Ayn Rand, the Novelist and Philosopher -- An Analysis by Charles Murray

Kyrel Zantonavitch's picture
Submitted by Kyrel Zantonavitch on Thu, 2014-11-06 17:11

An interesting evaluation of the thought, fiction, and person of Ayn Rand by long-time Objectivist camp-follower Charles Murray:

How Ayn Rand Captured The Magic Of American Life
Ayn Rand was a philosophical hypocrite, but a magical novelist.
By Charles Murray; October 16, 2014; TheFederalist.com

"In 1991, the book-of-the-month club conducted a survey asking people what book had most influenced their lives. The Bible ranked number one and Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” was number two. In 1998, the Modern Library released two lists of the top 100 books of the twentieth century. One was compiled from the votes of the Modern Library’s Board, consisting of luminaries such as Joyce Carol Oates, Maya Angelou, Edmund Morris, and Salman Rushdie. The two top-ranked books on the Board’s list were “Ulysses” and “The Great Gatsby.”

"The other list was based on more than 200,000 votes cast online by anyone who wanted to vote. The top two on that list were “Atlas Shrugged” (1957) and “The Fountainhead” (1943). The two novels have had six-figure annual sales for decades, running at a combined 300,000 copies annually during the past ten years. In 2009, “Atlas Shrugged” alone sold a record 500,000 copies and Rand’s four novels combined (the lesser two are “We the Living” [1936] and “Anthem” [1938]) sold more than 1,000,000 copies.

"And yet for 27 years after her death in 1982, we had no single scholarly biography of Ayn Rand. Who was this woman? How did she come to write such phenomenally influential novels? What are we to make of her legacy? These questions were finally asked and answered splendidly, with somewhat different emphases, in two biographies published within weeks of each other in 2009: “Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right” by Jennifer Burns, an assistant professor of history at the University of Virginia, and “Ayn Rand and the World She Made” by Anne C. Heller, a former executive editor at Condé Nast Publications.

"They are both big books, well written, exhaustively researched, and—remarkably, given their subject—judicious and disinterested. Both authors strike just the right tone in describing Rand’s complicated life and personality, betraying neither animus nor infatuation...."