I Guess PARC Hasn't Reached Canada Yet

James S. Valliant's picture
Submitted by James S. Valliant on Fri, 2007-01-19 02:35

Wayne Simmons sent me the following link to an article titled "Sex! Power! Politics! Money! If only Ayn Rand's novels were as filmable as her life" by Robert Fulford, which was published in Canada's National Post on Tuesday, January 16, 2007.

The following was the email I sent in response.

"Dear Mr. Fulford,

I am the author of 'The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics,' the first critical analysis of the Brandens' biographical works on Ayn Rand. In the course of my research on Rand, I was granted unprecedented access to Rand's private journals and notes, of which I make extensive use in my analysis.

I read your recent article on Ayn Rand, and certainly agree that 'Atlas Shrugged' should be made into a movie. However, you made a number of factual errors, some of them significant.

For example, you say that Rand decided to become a novelist after her first screenplay was 'rejected.' This is wrong. Her first ambition was to become a novelist -- and one of her heroes was the French writer Victor Hugo -- from her childhood forward. Her first novel was plotted out before she wrote the screenplay in question. Since all of Rand's biographers are in agreement with this fact, I wonder where you got this idea that 'rejection' caused Rand to make a career move?

I do know, however, where you got the idea that 'Rand' is intentionally part of Mr. Branden's chosen name -- this is an old one. But it has been denied by Branden and there is no evidence to actually support your contention other than rumor, spread by folks like Nora Ephron, with no more evidence than you possess.

More importantly, Rand did not break with Branden when she learned of his romantic feelings for a '23 year old model,' as you put it. No, the evidence conclusively shows that Rand continued a business and intellectual relationship with him after learning of this fact. Moreover, her romantic affair with Branden was already long over when she learned of this, in any event. Jealousy does not appear to have motivated her at all -- during the course of her affair with Branden, she even suggested at one point that he have affair with someone else! The break with him was the result of learning that Branden had engaged in systematic exploitation of her -- lying about the affair with this young woman for over four years -- years of deceptive counseling -- years of intellectual fraud -- all played important roles in the break. But it was about Branden's dishonesty, not Rand's jealousy.

Finally, you unjustly smear Rand's husband when you assert that he was 'amiably drunk' for 'four decades.' Even those who claim that O'Connor developed a drinking problem, do not claim that this existed until the last few years of his life. The film of Ms. Branden's biography, 'The Passion of Ayn Rand,' makes the same error you do in depicting O'Connor passed out drunk in the Fifties. Is that where you got the idea? In any event, it is also the case that none of those who spread this urban legend could claim any personal knowledge of O'Connor's drinking or intoxication. The only witnesses to ANY intoxication of any kind whatever restrict their own testimony to the last 'weeks' of his life, much less ''years' -- much less 'decades.' This was also the period during which O'Connor was suffering from mental difficulties common to the elderly. He was, after all, on the verge of dying, Many have changed their minds on the subject of O'Connor's alleged alcoholism, recognizing its sole source in Rand's enemies.

All of this material has been covered in my book -- and elsewhere. It is a bit disappointing to me that writers, like the Brandens, of such crude biases and known dishonesty should be uncritically relied upon in your article -- for, whether you know it or not, the picture you paint is a false one, exclusively rooted in the motivated lies of Rand's detractors.

I hope you will make the appropriate corrections.


James S. Valliant"

It's been only two days, but, so far, no response.

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James S. Valliant's picture

Thanks. That's why I wrote it.

To the point

J. Heaps-Nelson's picture

Thanks, James. That's to the point. At least someone familiar with Rand's works could rebut the pre-1986 distortions. Without PARC, there would've been no way to answer this article other than to say they were being unfair or off-topic.


The Difference

James S. Valliant's picture

Comments on Rand prior to PAR were just as vicious and negative -- but they were not as personal and biographical -- not so much ad hominem, as misstating or grossly distorting Rand's ideas themselves -- e.g., Chambers, Vidal, The Saturday Evening Post, etc.

Pervasiveness of Negative Personal Comment on Rand

J. Heaps-Nelson's picture

Enough of these stories are now popping up that I now see how the Branden biographies are being used. Commentators simply use them as a convenient club to bash Rand. It would be interesting to see if there was more negative comment about Rand before 1986 when the Passion of Ayn Rand was published or after.



J. Heaps-Nelson's picture


What continually astonishes me is why these people would care more about Rand's personal life than her books, unless they are dishonest. After all, what does her personal life have to do with whether Atlas Shrugged can be made into a movie. The Fountainhead made it into movie form, so should Atlas.



James S. Valliant's picture

Thanks Laure. I'm sure you're right. -- even Ms. Branden would have drawn the line at some of that -- but it's clear that his inspiration was... the Brandens.


Laure Chipman's picture

James, bless you for writing to this schmuck!  Unfortunately, it seems like some people want to make their little articles more colorful by implying that their subjects are whack-jobs.  I guess it's a testament to the power of Rand's writing, that people like this are still so scared by it that they try to keep people from reading it by making insinuations about it and her.

He got that bit about Rand being paranoid about the Soviets from an interview with Albert S. Ruddy.  And of course the rest is a perfect example of how some people take what the Brandens have written as a jumping-off point to smear Rand.  But you know, I'd bet that Barbara Branden would even agree that this guy has gone way too far.


Bill Visconti's picture

Did you read the NY Times piece on the Atlas Shrugged movie history? They depicted Rand as a paranoid, anti-Communist nutcase. I can't imagine Rand saying the things they say she said.

Proud ARIan Warmonger

Fulford the Statist

F L Light's picture

To devastate the statists let us stand
For freedom consonantly close to Rand.


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