September 15, 2007

"'Atlas Shrugged' is a celebration of life and happiness."

"Justice is unrelenting. Creative individuals and undeviating purpose and rationality achieve joy and fulfillment. Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should."

So wrote Alan Greenspan in a letter to the editor of the NYT in 1957, the year the book was published and denounced by the newspaper as "written out of hate."


Christy said...

At 16 I thought Ayn Rand ruled. At middle age, I don't trust contemporaries who haven't gone off her.

ricpic said...

Would 'twere so, but rationality and undeviating purpose oft come to naught whilst parasites merrily gambol 'crost the fruited plain.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

"Her life changed overnight when the Bolsheviks broke into her father’s pharmacy and declared his livelihood the property of the state."

Sounds like a plank from the Democratic platform for '08!

Joan said...

Mr. Stack said he gave a copy to his son, Tim Stack, 25, who was so inspired that he went to work for a railroad, just like the novel’s heroine, Dagny Taggart.

This is so sad. I wonder how many architects chose their profession after reading The Fountainhead. (I know one.)

I read all of Rand's novels (including the incredibly depressing We the Living) in college or shortly thereafter and thought she had some good ideas but was completely whacked about relationships, including family.

Later, I had an officemate who was an Objectivist, and she loaned me biographies of Rand by both Nathaniel and Barbara Brandon. It's tempting to use the word "sordid" to describe what happened among those three and Rand's husband, but "bizarre" is closer to the truth. It was particular interesting to read about the unraveling of a marriage from the viewpoint of both of the participants.

Rand was a charismatic, powerful, and ruthless woman, and she understood one aspect of human nature very well. Her problem was that she generalized her understanding of that one thing -- that individual accomplishment is essential to happiness -- to the point where nothing else mattered. She failed to understand that there are many things besides personal accomplishment that can lead to fulfillment -- or perhaps it would be better to say that she failed to understand that there are more measures of "accomplishment" than just monetary or worldly success.

I'm glad college kids are still reading Rand. Atlas Shrugged is a fair counterbalance to the politically correct socialist environment that seems to thrive on campus these days.

Kirby Olson said...

Ayn Rand is in fact the counterculture these days. She's the one who's read behind closed doors, as Kerouac and Ginsberg and Salinger would have been read outside of English classes for personal pleasure and learning in the 60s-70s.

It's a weed that needs only the slightest American youth to plant itself very deeply. In English classes that I've taught over the last 20 years I've realized that if I just mention Rand the whole class will snap to attention.

I find it encouraging even though I can't read it myself. The prose is utterly wooden and overly serious. She was very industrious: chain-smoked like a factory smokestack.

Sissy Willis said...

I was thinking Pamela of Atlas Shrugs, and it worked for me until I came to the date, 1957. :-)

reneviht said...

I read The Fountainhead on the recommendation of my grandfather, and hated almost every minute of it. Of course, as best as I can tell, the book was mostly a vehicle for talking philosophy, and not imparting a story. I like talking about philosophy, but I didn't like any of the characters enough for me to want to discuss philosophy with them.

A "celebration of life and happiness" sounds completely unlike my understanding of The Fountainhead. If I were to read it, is there a worthwhile chance I would I find it less depressing and smug?