Skip to comments.Use of fiction by Ayn Rand
Posted on 10/02/2006 6:59:27 PM PDT by Rob Larrikin
Lefties commonly say there is something wrong with Rands use of fiction as a vehicle for Objectivist beliefs. In a 1957 review of Atlas Shrugged, Whittaker Chambers, who had no idea how successful Atlas Shrugged would be, said, The mischief here is that the author, dodging into fiction, nevertheless counts on your reading it as political reality. Lefties have been using that same approach ever since. Using fiction is mischief and dodging.
Rand was trying to make an otherwise dull subject interesting, and she also wanted to show what might happen in a world where businessmen really did go on strike. Since that hasnt happened, it would need to be fiction. Duhh...
I believe the answer is "yes." But they attracted different people to the cause; I'd guess Rand attracted a third, Buckley a third, and the remainder were influenced by both.
The fellow could certainly write beautifully. I happen to think he missed several points with respect to his review of Atlas Shrugged, as I've mentioned above, but not all of them. I would not characterize Rand as a fascist, for example, but I do detect a whiff of the autocrat in nearly all her writings, and in her personal life she certainly behaved like it.
I also think the gas chamber comment was over the top. But what fate did she really think would face the looters and moochers? The novel ends before she has to say. I do not think it would have been pretty. And what place in the society to come would be occupied by those incapable of displaying the sort of personal independence and brilliance she ascribed to Reardon, Galt, and Taggart? I don't think even Rand pretended that was a universal human characteristic. It's a little uncomfortable to contemplate, frankly. I suspect that her utopia would have had a very dark side to it. All IMHO with the usual reservations, of course.
Ayn Rand ping
'The last time I checked, Whittaker Chambers wasn't exactly a "somebody."'
I find value in Rand's works. For the curious who want to know what all the fuss is about, I would recommend the following to be read in the order listed.:
1. _We the Living_ (novel) Of all of Rand's fiction, this one reads the most like a conventional novel. But a lot of her philosphical meaning gets through, even though it's still early in her career. I think it's her best meld of story and philosophy. Characters in the novel have motivations and convictions and carry them consistently through the novel. I could go on, but just read it. Or rent the Italian movie _Noi Vivi_ if you're more into movies. Among ther best and truest movie adaptations ever. I recommend this even more than _he Fountainhead_.
2. _The Virtue of Selfishness_ (philosophical work) Probably the best distillation of her philosophy. Written around the time of _Atlas_. Reading this book is excellent grounding for a reading of either _The Fountainhead_ or _Atlas Shrugged_. Mainly to get a better handle on all the philospohical profiles of the chracters, their interactions, andd where their choices lead them.
If you only read the first two books, you'd probably have a much better understanding of Ayn than any critic could tell you and why, at the very least, you DON'T like her.
If you want to read more novels, you might resume with
3. _Anthem_ (Novella) and then follow through with:
4. _The Fountainhead_ and/or _Atlas Shrugged._
or if you want to read more books covering her thinking, you might read:
_ Philosophy: Who Needs It?
_ The Romantic Manifesto
_ Capitalism: The Unknow Ideal
_The Ayn Rand Lexicon_ (philosophical overview)
A fantastic overview of Ayn's position on a number of social, political, economic, and philosphical topics. As well as terms ideas that Ayn uses throughout her writing. While this large volume discusses most specific points of her philosphy and opinion in full context, I find it best to have read most of the previous works before jumping into this one.
As for her writing... It's Ayn's own effort in what she calls the Romantic (as opposed to Naturalistic) style of writing. Most of us are familar with the Romantic style in such genres as superhero comics and pulp fiction. Ayn took superheroes and made them into people that never changed out of their suits, so to speak. Now, THAT IS a gross simplification, because the characters are much more complex than the traditional superheroes of HER time, but perhaps not so much more than of the graphic novel superheroes of OUR time.
The mistake many make with Ayn after reading her novels is thinking that they HAVE to be the EXACT same kind of person that they just read about. Or that applying Rand's ideas will turn you into some sort of monster. Well, no, you don't and no, it won't. You are still you and you do the very best you can. You can be your pleasant, normal, FReeper self and still understand and even(!) appreciate what she had to say. You CAN find points that you agree with her on and not "lose your soul"!
Of course that was before the socialists hijacked the term to suit their purposes (young conservatives who think their ideology should be spread throough the gun barrel).
Any Rand knew liberals well. Her language was often subtle and drawn out. A more candid Rand will be found in "The Letters of Ayn Rand".
Or, hey, forget Rand's books. If you want an entertaining read by the master of science fiction that covered a LOT of the same ground, I encourage you to read Robert Heinlein's _The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress_. It's almost as if Heinlein had read _Atlas_ and he said, in the form of a novel, "HERE'S how you say all that to an American audience!" There are some real zingers for ideas, but at least he explains them and puts a recognizable human face on them.
Does Owen Kellogg really need to label his post as sarcasm when asking Who is Ayn Rand and why should I care?
Good points. Thanks.
Um, because you wouldn't exist without her, maybe?
"Agreed, Gozpazha," said Wyoh.
Do you mean Catch 22? It was Catcher in the Rye that was associated with assasinations.
'Does Owen Kellogg really need to label his post as sarcasm when asking Who is Ayn Rand and why should I care?'
Dont forget the search bots. People will use that line as a search, and theyll find this link.
[Ayn would be pleased].
Now, what was that about sarcasm?
I dunno. I'm asking an authority on the subject.
You forgot a few!
LOL! I certainly did. You'd think folks around here had read her or somethin'...
Chambers' statement is simply stupid (no lesser word will do). If he actually believed that notion (rather than just tossing it out in the service of his personal prejudice), he would regard Nineteen Eighty-Four as simply a scary story, of no more significance than Jason Meets Freddy, and dismiss Gulliver's Travels as a simple tale of wanderings through fantastical settings.
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