Skip to comments.FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, The Non-Commercial
Posted on 02/21/2009 8:12:02 AM PST by Publius
Hank Rearden, forgetting about his anniversary party, is sent home by his secretary and dresses for the party. He reads an editorial about the Equalization of Opportunity Bill, which will forbid any businessman from owning more than one business. He has paid Wesley Mouch a lot of money to stop this and cannot believe it will pass the National Legislature.
Hank goes downstairs in time to hear Simon Pritchett state that man is nothing but chemicals with delusions of grandeur. He also says that there arent any objective standards and that the purpose of philosophy is to prove that there isnt any meaning to life.
Balph Eubank pontificates on the state of literature, which should be to show that the essence of life is suffering and defeat. He suggests an equalization of opportunity bill for authors. Mort Liddy challenges this, but Eubank believes that no book should be allowed to sell more than ten thousand copies, thus forcing people to buy better books because there will no longer be any best sellers. Only those who are not motivated by making money should be allowed to write.
Bertram Scudder, author of a vile and slanderous article about Rearden, speaks in favor of the Equalization of Opportunity Bill to Philip Rearden and Betty Pope, who both support it. Philip has no problem with the government trimming Hanks fortune. They are joined by Claude Slagenhop who argues that if the people are in need, they should seize things first and talk about it later.
Dagny Taggart walks in, and she is breathtaking. She tells Hank that this is a celebration of the first sixty miles of Rearden Metal track. Hank is strangely formal, as though he and Dagny have never met. Dagny is disturbed by his treatment of her.
Eubank and Jim Taggart speak about Dagny, whom Eubank sees as a perversion caused by the age of machines; Dagny should be home weaving cloth and having babies. Hank is enraged to see that Bertram Scudder is drinking in his house, but he is even more upset when Francisco dAnconia walks in.
Francisco gravitates to Eubank and Pritchett. Eubank wants a government subsidy for the arts. Francisco delivers a delicious slam against Pritchetts nihilism with a smile.
Jim takes Francisco aside to discuss the San Sebastian debacle, about which Francisco intends to do nothing. He tells Jim that the mines and rail line have been seized by the will of the people, and how dare anyone go against the majority? Everything Francisco did in Mexico was intended to follow the dominant precepts of the age. The mining engineer was chosen because of his need, workers received wages for producing nothing, and not a penny of profit was made. What could better epitomize the philosophy of Jim Taggart?
Francisco takes Hank aside and manages to read Hanks innermost thoughts. He explains to Hank that he is carrying all the freeloaders in the room, and they have but one weapon against him. Hank gives him a tongue lashing about the Mexican business, and Dagny cannot believe that Francisco is taking it without fighting back. Francisco leaves, telling Hank he has learned what he needed to learn about him.
Dagny draws Hank into conversation, but Hank is still absolutely rigid, as though he had never met Dagny before. Dagny offers to slap Bertram Scudder. But Hank cant keep his eyes off her bare shoulder.
Dagny overhears a conversation among some elderly people about their fear that the darkness will never leave. One old woman speaks about detonations heard out in Delaware Bay. The official explanation is Coast Guard target practice, but everyone knows it is the pirate Ragnar Danneskjøld evading the Coast Guard. Several European peoples states have put a price on his head, and he has captured a ship with relief supplies slated for the Peoples State of France. His ship is better than any in the navy of the Peoples State of England. The government has asked the newspapers to enforce a blackout on reporting about him. He was once a student at Patrick Henry University. (Major plot point!)
Who is John Galt? one asks, and Dagny walks away. But the old woman follows and tells Dagny of the legend of John Galt, a variant of the legend of Atlantis. Dagny doesnt believe it, but Francisco says he does and tells Dagny the story is true. They spar, but when Francisco looks at Dagny and says, What a waste, Dagny walks away, realizing that Francisco has read her mind.
The last straw is when the radio comes on, and she hears Liddys bastardization of Halleys Fourth Concerto. As she prepares to leave, she hears Lillian Rearden speaking disparagingly about the bracelet of Rearden Metal she is wearing. In a fury, Dagny offers to exchange her diamond bracelet for Lillians Rearden Metal bracelet. Lillian takes the offer, and Hank suddenly turns solicitous to his wife and bitterly cold to Dagny.
Hank, in his wifes bedroom, asks that she not invite these people again to the house.
The Purpose of This Chapter
We meet the friends of Philip and Lillian Rearden, a veritable rogues gallery of New York intellectuals; the overwhelming impression is one of uselessness and nihilism. Francisco is probing Hank, and Dagnys relationship with Hank hits a bad spot. Something is going on, but its impossible to figure it out yet.
The New York Intellectuals
Intellectuals in general held differing but strong opinions of Ayn Rand.
After her Hollywood years, Rand came to New York and settled there for the rest of her long life. She had her own group of followers, whom she dubbed The Collective as a joke aimed at Marxism. Alan Greenspan was one of them.
Rand no doubt rubbed shoulders with New Yorks intellectuals of the Left, and the dominant group at that time dubbed itself The New York Intellectuals. (How original!) This group defined itself as socialist and Marxist, but not pro-Soviet. They wrote for Partisan Review, Commentary and Dissent, any of which may be the real life version of Bertram Scudders The Future. (Today, one would point to magazines like Mother Jones or The Nation as candidates.)
The names of these intellectuals are a Whos Who of that era, and some of them are still alive today. Among them were Lionel Trilling, Diana Trilling (his wife), Alfred Kazin, Delmore Schwartz, Harold Rosenberg, Dwight Macdonald, Mary McCarthy, Irving Howe, Saul Bellow, Daniel Bell, Hannah Arendt, Susan Sontag, Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz. Most of them were Jewish. Irving Kristol and Norman Podhoretz moved right in later years and formed the core of the neo-conservative movement. Proving that some people just live too long, Susan Sontag spent her last years as a relentless self-parody, finally skewered by Camille Paglia in a brilliant essay.
One enjoyable parlor game is to look at the rogues gallery of intellectuals at Hank Reardens party and guess whom they were based on.
Typical of Rand, these characters drip banality and evil years before Hannah Arendt joined those words in her essay about Adolf Eichmann. More will join their ranks in future chapters.
Some Discussion Topics
Ping! The thread has been posted.
Our First Freeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged
FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, The Theme
FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, The Chain
FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, The Top and the Bottom
FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, The Immovable Movers
FReeper Book Club: Atlas Shrugged, The Climax of the dAnconias
Can you add me to your ping list, please?
I’m so glad you’re doing this.
Please add me to your ping list. Thanks! (don’t know the rules, but I have read the book, just last summer)
The only rule is to avoid spoilers.
Your synopsis’ and discussion topics are really helpful, thank you. It’s eerie to be reading Atlas Shrugged and hearing the national news and comparing the perspectives.
Balph Eubanks comment about Dagny having babies strikes a false note. In the Fifties...
Perhaps this is an insight to Rands past.
Since the age of the character is not always obvious, could this be an ideal from an earlier time, indicating the speed of the social change?
But Hank cant keep his eyes off her bare shoulder.
that the diamond band on the wrist of her naked arm gave her the most feminine of all aspects: the look of being chained.
Recalling Dagny's visit to Rearden's office, the jade vase was the only object that tied the outside world to him. Perhaps it is one piece of the outside that had some connection (the color of his steel) and thus allowed it in his office. The description of the Rearden home did not have any such item in it. Until Dagny....
Add me to the list, too, please. Thanks
I’m so happy I came across your thread. Could you add me to your ping list? I am going out to buy the book today after work, can’t wait to read it!
In a proper world, I’d have had you as a Literature teacher when I was a freshman instead of the jerk that I actually had.
Wasted a semester reading “important” black authors.. I put fiction down for 15 years and determined never to read another “important” book.
I didn't see it as a generic sexist remark regarding women.
It was a specific jab at her competence.
They would have had no problem with her having a position if she were incompetent in it.
Producers and the competent are the enemy through the whole novel.
Artists in general , at least until they reach a level of success have always been “starving” and requiring the tender mercies of a patron.
It is actually a far preferable system. It puts art in the competitive field. Competition always produces a superior product.
The National Endowment for the Arts has created a support system for a bunch of individuals that should have failed.
Art historically has been useful to elevate, it has been about beauty, now the system rewards denigration and lowering standards.
Again I advise: READ THIS BOOK carefully. Put it aside for three (3) months. Pick it up and carefully re-read it. Do NOT blow your brains out.
Remember, the political speeches you heard LAST WEEK were written into this book over 50 years ago. Be afraid...be VERY afraid!!
Add Sundog to your ping list.
Could you add me to your ping list? Thanks in advance : )
Is this party where Francisco delivers his "money" speech? I think that speech is more important than the much longer speech delivered later in the book.
I believe the basic lack of understanding of money... more precisely wealth... is the root of liberal thinking and their misguided policies.
Will review the chapter and post back later. Thanks Publius!
Nope, that was at a wedding.
Thanks. I guess I am going to have to start reading it again so I can keep up with the threads.
Oo-oo-oo-h, I like that! I completely missed that. This is why I love dealing with FReepers.
Ping to Chapter 6.
“How does one dare oppose the will of the majority? Contrast Dan Conways use of that question with Franciscos.”
Put simply, Dan Conway asked this question with an air of resignation, as if it was useless to fight the mob that voted to drive him out of busness. Francisco poses it to point out the folly of the idea that the distribution of wealth should be based on need rather than ability (although none of those he asks seem to understand this).
Can you please add me to the ping list as well?
My own area of expertise is classical music. This was true for Haydn and Mozart, and to some extent even Beethoven. Once you sold your music to a publisher, the gold you received was the only payment you got. All profits went to the publisher.
But then British copyright law came into being throughout Europe, and everything changed. Brahms could make money off the sales of sheet music.
Then recording came along in the early 20th Century, and composers like Rachmanninov learned how to become media businessmen.
The patronage system gave way to capitalism in various forms as far as music was concerned.
I'm going to take the wearing of the diamond band in a different way
I'm not so sure it equals sex, but I think it is a symbol for the old society and the unnecessary adornment of greatness. In a society where the outward is prized and true goodness of character is disguised, jewelry, clothing, one's residence become the way to indicate that one is 'better' than another. Reflect back to the significance of the chain Hank created. It wasn't necessarily beautiful or valuable by traditional mores, it was valuable because of what it symbolized -- it symbolized the future.
When Dagny trades her diamond band for Lilian's bracelet of Reardon metal, she makes an important step down her own path - she trades an item of traditional value for one of the new values - the value of hard work.
Hank at this point becomes kinder to Lillian because it is at this point he falls in love with Dagny, but he will feel he is bound by the old ways and will not want to leave Lillian and thus violate his bond to her he made in the past. This internal struggle will have to be reconciled, and this type of struggle is not reconciled cleanly. The society of Altas Shrugged is clearly one in transition.
When Lillian and Dagney trade the diamond band for the Reardon metal, they each seal their own fate. One will remain in the past, one will belong to the future
Certainly Lillian’s trade of Rearden Metal for a diamond tells volumes about her character. But then so does her taste in friends and intellectuals.
"Lillian moved forward to meet her, studying her with curiosity. They had met before, on infrequent occasions, and she found it strange to see Dagny Taggart wearing an evening gown. It was a black dress......The black dress seemed excessively revealing--because it was astonishing to discover that the lines of her shoulder were fragile and beautiful, and that the diamond band on the wrist of her naked arm gave her the most feminine of all aspects: the look of being chained."
Does this statement actually say more about Lillian Rearden than about Dagny? It is Lillian who thinks that a woman's feminity is defined as being a piece of property. Without question Ayn Rand had some sort of domination fetish going on.....
Although, truth be told, Ayn Rand is a bit bi-polar in her feminism. Why did Dagny have to be so beautiful? I guess that is the case with her mega-producer leading men: they are all gorgeous, as well.
So, why does Hank completely give Dagny the cold shoulder after the bracelet exchange? Does he realize that he is in love with her and must hide it at all costs? Or has he admitted it to himself?
Dagny is Ayn, or at least the way Ayn would have liked to be.
In real life, Ayn Rand was a short and rather dumpy woman. Her brainpower was amazing, and I think she looked at herself in a mirror and saw Dagny. Or at least wanted to see Dagny.
If you go back to last week's thread and watch Rand with Mike Wallace and Phil Donahue, it's a wonderful thing to behold. I'm hoping they both live just long enough to eat their words.
As far as the remark made to Dagney that she should be having babies. I immediately thought about a show I saw on Book Notes about the worst ideas/books of all time. On the list was Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystic. He explained it as expanding marxism to include the womens movement. Friedan's view was that the 1950’s housewife, while staying at home, was freed by modern technology to pursue more intellectual goals. She saw the modern housewife as the “vanguard” of marxism for women. Contrast that to Dagney, who doesn't have time for such nonsense, she has a railroad to run. Of coarse, as another poster already stated, he may have been critiquing her job performance.
As for the game to name the contemporaries of the party members, thats like shooting fish in a barrel! But what immediately comes to mind is all of these liberal movies like Redacted, Rendition & W. No one sees them, no one wants to see them, and they don't make money. The whole point is to pontificate to the masses.
I watched the first Mike Wallace clip. I will have to do those in bits and pieces.
Yup, she’s really kind of a troll, isn’t she? That is what is so strange about her heroines being so gorgeous. I’d want to make my heroine attractive, without needing the “legs like a dancer” sort of thing going on. It was Dagny’s mind that contained the true beauty. Hey, my vanity is such that I put my make-up on every day (well, except Saturdays....), so I’m not dismissing feminine attractiveness completely.
But, If I’m Ayn Rand, I’d be making my leading lady a little more in the realm of the human in terms of looks if she is going to be such a hot-shot business woman. I’d be making Dagny a little closer to the real Ayn.
Face it, there are very few Ann Coulters running around. I would have to hate Ann if she didn’t make me laugh hard enough to snort coffee thru my nose.
I'm going to say no, and not for artistic reasons, though I think that would probably be valid as well. I'm going to take as a given that people espousing big/powerful government principles is a bad thing. Then it follows that it's a bad idea to have government funding creative endeavors because if government decides who to fund who is likely to receive funding? Also, as a taxpayer I resent having to pay people to say things with which I disagree vehemently and make art I find offensive, especially when my counterparts on the other side of the political spectrum labor under no such burden.
I'm not sure about the lack of sexism. I don't know about Eubanks, but Jim was shocked at the idea of Dagny holding the post of VP Operations because she was a woman.
Sometimes great beauty and great talent/accomplishments do go hand in hand.
You mentioned Ann Coulter but also Michelle Malkin, in the field of Music..Dianna Krall.
Rand wasn’t so much trollish as she was unkempt. She had that bohemian Russian thing going on.
I wonder if there are pictures of her when she was young?
Re: Jim’s opinion about Dagney.
Jim being the brother knew Dagney was competent and would show him up as the greaser/and squeezer that he was.
No guy wants his sister showing him up.
In a subplot, John Cusack plays young Nelson Rockefeller who is involved in privately financing a mural by a young communist artist. Cusack doesn't look like Rockefeller but has the accent and mannerisms down pat.
This film is over-the-edge liberal but is beautifully done and covers a lot of your points.
She was pretty good looking before she got that bohemian Russian thing going.
One of my favorite chapters is number Six, a set-piece at Hank Reardons house at which some of the foundational ideas of both looter and immovable mover are trotted out in conversation. When first I read this I thought it painfully contrived, but that was before I heard many of these cases made in earnest by real people. Rand didnt make any of it up; she didnt have to. To the chapter:
Hank Reardon is a failure as a husband, which isnt an unmixed blessing because Lillian is a failure as a wife. This ones headed straight for the rocks, slowly and inevitably. Atlas Shrugged here shows itself a product of the 50s, the days before the advent of vending-machine divorces wherein a feller can get gutted, skinned out, and hung up to dry in the course of a single morning and still have time for a cup of coffee he can no longer afford. Score one for modern efficiency.
To celebrate the eighth anniversary of this shipwreck of a marriage we have The Party. For Dagny such affairs are misplaced she says that they should be a celebration, peopled by deserving celebrants. Clearly there is something epochal to celebrate Reardon metal. And just as clearly there are very few people there who have earned the right to celebrate it or who are even aware of its import.
One who is aware is Francisco dAnconia, who plays here the role of a satyr before the proscenium, commenting mockingly on the earnest posturings of the other partygoers. The only time he is serious is when he is occupied in his principal purpose for attending, which is taking the measure of the industrialist Reardon.
We've all been to one of these things at one time or another. In these days of computer cultism the geek corner is a fixture at nearly every one of such affairs, geek boys and geek girls, and no matter what the dress each of whom is wearing a little invisible beanie with a propeller on it. When the conversation turns technical you can visualize the propellers turning. To anyone normal the topics are absolutely stupefying and normal people tend to leave them alone. Us alone. Mea maxima culpa.
Hank doesnt even have that comfort at his joyless affair. I could have helped him if hed invited me. Id take him aside and tell him, Come on, Hank buddy, you gotta man up there. Learn some social skills, like me. If women can fake orgasms we can fake in interest in French impressionism. Let the Drillster show ya how its done.
(I saunter over to a current flame).
Wow, Mavis, thats shore a purty drop cloth you got there. Whatd the painting look like?
That is the painting, Bill.
Oh. Uh (Blushing, shuffling feet). Nice. (Long, painful silence. I slink back to the geek corner, tail between legs, propeller on my beanie drooping).
Which brings us to the topic of Silicon Valley. (Work with me here, Im in coffee-fueled state of free association). Rand died in 1982, which was just a little too soon to see her imagined world of immovable movers take shape before her, but take shape it did, and I was there to see it. You didnt see a lot of this sort of party there at the time. Everybody, and I do mean everybody, was too busy.
And so is Reardon here. Breaking off from a hot project to tend the home fires is absolutely one of the hazards of domestic felicity. I dont think anyone could maintain that state of intensity for long, as Reardon does, even with a toxic home life to avoid. A sad gaggle of Silicon Valley burnouts are whats left of the people who tried it. Ill be comparing the world of Atlas Shrugged to that of Silicon Valley at greater length as the novel progresses. For now let us return to The Party and examine the menagerie.
The creature in the first cage is one Dr. Pritchett, a philosopher by trade, the successor to Professor Akston at Patrick Henry University. Check him out:
Man? What is man? Hes just a collection of chemicals with delusions of grandeur, said Dr. Pritchett
A fair enough case, I suppose, but theres chemicals, Doc, and then theres chemicals. Ethanol, for example. As a side note, neither Reardon nor Dagny drink. It might have helped.
But which concepts are not ugly or mean, Professor? asked an earnest matron
None, said Dr. Pritchett. None within the range of mans capacity.
A young man asked hesitantly, But if we havent any good concepts, how do we know the ones weve got are ugly? By what standard?
There are no standards.
Here the Professor has departed the bounds of reason, literally. This statement is a violation of Aristotles rule of non-contradiction, (which is, after all, the title of this section of AS). You can't judge by standards that don't exist, and Pritchett has judged. But Pritchett is not simply a fashionable nihilist. One can hear in him some of the more dreary excesses of the school of Existentialism, which Rand saw succeed Aristotle in the real world as well as at her Patrick Henry University. Glance at The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus and tell me if it doesnt resemble Reardons life and that of all of Rands immovable movers before Atlas shakes himself free of the burden, before Sisyphus tosses his rock back at the gods.
To Rand this secular hell is the result of the denial of reason. Nietszche stated that in the absence of God there is an inescapable trend toward nihilism. Rand is stating that in the absence of reason one gets the same result.
On a side note, one tends to get other things as well there appears to be something in the proponents of Existentialism that gravitates toward totalitarianism. Not all of them, to be sure Camus, for example - but certainly Heidegger was attracted to Nazism and Sartre to Communism. Perhaps that is another result of the denial of God or the denial of reason. Perhaps both. A topic for another day.
There isnt really much left of the school of Existentialism in formal philosophy these days. It has, however, bled over into the field of social science and constitutes one of the sources of the feminism of Simone Beauvoir and other fields such as Critical Race Theory. Rand presents it as a malign influence in modern intellectual life. One occasionally hears its feminist adherents deride Aristotle as linear male logic, as if a syllogism possesses a penis. Rand has no time for that sort of hyperimaginative silliness and frankly it is amazing to me that anyone does.
In Rands world a reach for intellectual depth must be accompanied by intellectual rigor. Things are not what they seem is a perfectly permissible proposition both to Rand and to Aristotle. Pritchetts Things are not what they are, is not. Thats what A is A means.
But this is the way Rand saw academia decaying, Akston to Pritchett, Aristotle to Sartre. And by the way, where did Akston disappear to? And what about the composer Richard Halley, where did he go? And where did Reardons foreman at the beginning of the chapter go, and why? Good people, hard to replace. Its almost as if there's some sort of con
Speaking of Halley, we note that his immortal Fourth Concerto has been stolen and transformed into sappy movie music, for which the thief, a menagerie display named Mort Liddy, has won an unnamed prize. And in the real world we hear with apprehension that Atlas Shrugged itself may soon be worked over by Hollywood, an irony not lost on the reader of this chapter. If its used to sell soap Rand might excuse it; if its used to sell socialism shell be spinning in her grave.
One last thought from Pritchett: The purpose of philosophy is not to seek knowledge, but to prove that knowledge is impossible to man. I suspect that might be a weak case - its knowledge, after all, that enables you to load the rifle when the tiger is coming for you and unlike Existentialist philosophy, tigers are real. We all can echo Franciscos laughter at this ridiculous poseur.
In this chapter we are introduced to the Equality Of Opportunity bill, whose title (remember, this was written in 1957) echoes the Newspeak grotesqueries of, say, the Fairness Doctrine today. This is, in reality, an anticompetitive measure designed to force industrialists such as Reardon to give their assets to government lackeys. It will become significant as the novel develops. From the next cage in the menagerie we hear one of the animals bleating:
A free economy cannot exist without competition. Therefore, men must be forced to compete. Therefore, we must control men in order to allow them to be free.
We may be tempted to laugh at this patent silliness, supposing it an exaggeration on Rands part, if we hadnt heard it coming from the television so much of late. The underlying theme of much of the economic stimulus legislation is the notion that markets are only truly free under coercion. It is considered impolite to give that notion the horse-laugh it deserves. Francisco dAnconia is more polite:
that nationalization. [James Taggart asks] What are you going to do about it?
But surely you dont want me to do anything about it. My mine and your railroad were seized by the will of the people. You wouldnt want me to oppose the will of the people, would you?
Thats flippant, but the assertion placed in the mouth of Bertram Scudder, the author in the next cage, is not:
Property rights are a superstition. One holds property only by the courtesy of those who do not seize it. The people can seize it at any moment. If they can, why shouldnt they?
They should, said Claude Slagenhop. They need it. Need is the only consideration.
So it is in Obamas America and in every tinpot socialist kleptocracy ever spawned. To each according to his need is, of course, Marx, whose doctrines Rand would have seen in application at first hand before she fled the madness. It didnt work even then. That formulation was, as Trotsky pointed out in The Revolution Betrayed, quite impossible to achieve at that stage of his imagined historical progression. Not, presumably, in the unattainable world of high communism, when Party fairies riding proletarian unicorns run the State. Stalin found it necessary to re-codify the proposition to To each according to his work, a rather different concept.
But it does prove convenient depending on what one means by work. The elite, the brainworkers, offer a value to society that is quite out of proportion to their actual sweat equity (just ask them) and must be offered a commensurate reward. That elite populates the menagerie at Reardons party and a bigger real-world menagerie seen in the pages of the NY Times, the screens of MSNBC, and in the septic ravings of the Daily Kos, in any of which we might encounter the occupant of the next cage, one Bertram Scudder:
He [Reardon] saw the article, The Octopus, by Bertram Scudder, which was not an expression of ideas but a bucket of slime emptied in public an article that did not contain a single fact, not even an invented one, but poured a string of sneers and adjectives in which nothing was clear except the filthy malice of denouncing without considering proof necessary.
The title The Octopus is a reference to Frank Norriss 1901 novel by that name, a bit of populist propaganda that was romantic and quite unfairly anti-corporate, inspired by the events of the Mussel Slough Tragedy in California. Here Rand, like Ambrose Bierce before her, wasnt buying into the inflammatory mythology that turned Norris and the Muckrakers into celebrities. Teddy The Trustbuster Roosevelt did. It wasnt one of his better moments.
Finally, as The Party reaches its climax of inanity, there is The Bracelet, a recurring symbol of merit, bondage, and Dagnys sexual inclinations. Of those we already had a clue, which Rand reinforces at Dagnys entrance to the party:
The diamond band on the wrist of her naked arm gave her the most feminine of all aspects: the look of being chained.
Personally I never imagined a diamond bracelet in quite that kinky a vein, but symbolic it certainly is, as both Hank and Lillian Reardon grasp fully when Dagny calls Lillians bluff and exchanges it for the genuine chain of Reardon metal. She has, in effect, laid claim to Hank. This affront to connubial bliss is extremely interesting in view of Rands real-world affair with the much younger Nathaniel Branden, an early Objectivist follower (whose name appears in Nat Taggart, Dagnys heroic forbear). Rand was writing Atlas Shrugged during that affair, which although nominally approved of was distressing to the spouses of both parties. It isnt obvious whether art was imitating life or it was the other way around.
And so we and Rand move from an uncelebratory party to end the chapter in Reardons painfully uncelebratory marriage bed. Lillian is as cold a fish physically as she is mentally, and clearly Reardon is punishing himself for being with her by being with her. A Sisyphean rock for Hank, perhaps, but it cannot go on forever. Something has to give.
Have a great week, Publius! ;-)
In her interview with Donahue, Rand talks about how much she admires beauty. (Her favorite TV show at the time was Charlie's Angels, believe it or not.) I don't get the impression that she was trying to model the character, Dagny, after herself. If I'm calculating correctly, Rand was in her 50's when she wrote AS, whereas Dagny is in her 30's. I think she crafted the image of Dagny into something she herself would admire in someone else.
You’re right. I should have incremented the body count by two this week, not one. Shame on me.
She was a nice looking young woman.
An interesting and illuminating contrast.
This subject came up a couple of weeks ago. Dagny chained?
Did not Dagny pay for that steel bracelet?
Did Ayn Rand feel chained because of her gender? It seems unlikely, but I try to perceive symbolism where I find it.
I saw nothing that indicated to me that Dagny Taggert was about anything remotely connected to servility, unless it was about profits. Perhaps I read too fast, and miss a lot.
That is possible, but at this point, I am not buying into the notion that she was some sort of a masochist. Hardly.
They had a fascinating trip from one side of the spectrum to the other.
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