Rand, Ayn 1905–1982

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Rand, Ayn 1905–1982

(Alice Rosenbaum)

PERSONAL: First name rhymes with "pine"; born Alice Rosenbaum, February 2, 1905, in St. Petersburg, Russia; came to United States, 1926, naturalized, 1931; died March 6, 1982, in New York, NY; daughter of Fronz (a chemist) and Anna Rosenbaum; married Charles Francis "Frank" O'Connor (an artist), April 15, 1929. Education: University of Petrograd (now University of St. Petersburg), graduated with highest honors in history, 1924. Politics: Radical for capitalism. Religion: Atheist.

CAREER: Worked as tour guide at Peter and Paul Fortress; Cecil B. DeMille Studio, Hollywood, CA, movie extra and junior screenwriter, 1926–32, began as filing clerk, became office head in wardrobe department; worked as screenwriter for Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1932–34; freelance script reader for RKO Pictures, then Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, both New York, NY, 1934–35; typist for Eli Jacques Kahn (architect), New York, NY, doing research work for The Fountainhead, 1937; Paramount Pictures, New York, NY, script reader, 1941–43; Hal Wallis Productions, Hollywood, CA, screenwriter, 1944–49; full-time writer and lecturer, 1951–82. Visiting lecturer at Yale University, 1960, Princeton University, 1960, Columbia University, 1960 and 1962, University of Wisconsin, 1961, Johns Hopkins University, 1961, Harvard University, 1962, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1962. Presenter of annual Ford Hall Forum, Boston, MA, beginning 1963.

AWARDS, HONORS: Doctor of Humane Letters, Lewis and Clark College, 1963.



We the Living (also see below), Macmillan (New York, NY), 1936, 60th anniversary edition, Dutton (New York, NY), 1995.

Anthem, Cassell (New York, NY), 1938, revised edition, Pamphleteers, Inc., 1946, 50th anniversary edition, with new introduction by Leonard Peikoff, Dutton (New York, NY), 1995.

The Fountainhead (also see below), Bobbs-Merrill, 1943 (New York, NY), with special introduction by Rand, 1968, reprinted, Plume (New York, NY), 1994.

Atlas Shrugged, Random House (New York, NY), 1957.


For the New Intellectual: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, Random House (New York, NY), 1961.

(With Nathaniel Branden) The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism, New American Library (New York, NY), 1964.

(With Nathaniel Branden and others) Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, New American Library (New York, NY), 1966.

Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, Objectivist, 1967.

The Romantic Manifesto: A Philosophy of Literature, World Publishing (Cleveland, OH), 1969.

Philosophy: Who Needs It, introduction by Leonard Peikoff, Bobbs-Merrill (New York, NY), 1982.

The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution, New American Library (New York, NY), 1982.

The Ayn Rand Lexicon: Objectivism from A to Z, introduction and notes by Leonard Peikoff, New American Library (New York, NY), 1984.

The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought, edited by Leonard Peikoff, New American Library (New York, NY), 1989.

The Ayn Rand Column, Second Renaissance Books, 1990.

The Ayn Rand Letters: 1971–1976, Second Renaissance Books, 1990.

The Ayn Rand Reader, edited by Gary Hull and Leonard Peikoff, Plume (New York, NY), 1999.

Return of the Primitive: The Anti-industrial Revolution, Meridian (New York, NY), 1999.

Russian Writings on Hollywood, Ayn Rand Institute (Marina del Ray, CA), 1999.

Why Businessmen Need Philosophy, Ayn Rand Institute (Marina del Ray, CA), 1999.

The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers, edited by Tore B?ckman, Plume (New York, NY), 2000.

The Art of Nonfiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers, edited by Peter Schwartz, Plume (New York, NY), 2001.


Night of January 16th (produced as Woman on Trial at Hollywood Playhouse, October, 1934, first produced on Broadway as Night of January 16th, at Ambassador Theater, September 16, 1935; produced as Penthouse Legend, 1973), Longmans, Green, 1936, New American Library (New York, NY), 1971.

The Unconquered (adaptation of We the Living), first produced on Broadway, February 14, 1940.


Love Letters (screenplay; adapted from the novel by Chris Massie), Paramount, 1945.

You Came Along (screenplay), Paramount, 1945.

The Fountainhead (filmscript; adaptation her novel), Warner Bros., 1949.

The Early Ayn Rand: A Selection from Her Unpublished Fiction, with introduction and notes by Norman Peikoff, New American Library (New York, NY), 1984.

Letters of Ayn Rand, edited by Michael S. Berliner, Dutton (New York, NY), 1995.

Ayn Rand's Marginalia: Her Critical Comments on the Writings of over Twenty Authors, edited by Robert Mayhew, Second Renaissance Books, 1996.

Journals of Ayn Rand, edited by David Harriman, Dutton (New York, NY), 1997.

Co-editor and contributor, The Objectivist Newsletter, 1962–65, and its successor, The Objectivist (monthly journal), 1966–71; writer and publisher, The Ayn Rand Letter, 1971–76. Columnist for Los Angeles Times.

ADAPTATIONS: Night of January 16th was filmed by Paramount and released in 1941. A year later, We the Living was filmed in Italy; a revised and abridged version of the Italian film was released in the United States in 1988. Film rights to Atlas Shrugged were purchased by Crusader Entertainment, 2003. Books by Rand adapted as audiobooks include The Virtue of Selfishness and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, Blackstone Audio, 2001.

SIDELIGHTS: "Ayn Rand is dead. So, incidentally, is the philosophy she sought to launch dead; it was in fact stillborn." William F. Buckley's derogatory obituary in the National Review sounded a note of wishful thinking on the part of Ayn Rand's persistent critics. Rather than quelling interest in her or her philosophy, Rand's death, in March of 1982, initiated a new era of academic interest and fueled the continued promotion of her philosophies by her adherents. Also fuelling Rand scholarship, Philosophy: Who Needs It, a volume of essays Rand planned but did not complete, came out the year of her death; and The Early Ayn Rand: A Selection from Her Unpublished Fiction, was issued in 1984.

Rand—born Alice Rosenbaum in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1905—occupies a unique position in the history of American literature. In many ways she was a paradox: a writer of popular romances whose ideas were taken seriously, a fierce individualist who collected many followers. Politically and aesthetically, she defied the cultural currents of her times. Her lifelong enmity to collectivist political systems was engendered by her personal experiences growing up in Russia and living through the Bolshevik revolution and the beginnings of the Soviet system. She was an American patriot in the manner that only one who has emigrated from a totalitarian regime can be.

Capitalism was the system Rand championed; one of her best-known novels, Atlas Shrugged, is described as, among other things, a theodicy of capitalism. A rugged individualist and a believer in rational self-interest, Rand was a proponent of laissez-faire capitalism, a system she defined as the only social system based on the recognition of individual rights, the only system that bans force from social relationship, and the only system that fundamentally opposes war. Rand's defense of capitalism on moral grounds is unique. She based this defense on her view that only capitalism is consonant with man's rational nature, protective of his survival as man, and fundamentally just.

Rand's championing of individual rights and minimal government is part of her appeal to the Libertarian political movement, although she herself denounced Libertarians, calling them hippies of the right and advocates of anarchism. Neither, however, would she ally herself with most conservatives because of what she called their mysticism, their staunch support of religion. Among Rand's most persistent concerns about America was her belief that capitalism was being sold out by the very people who should be its strongest advocates. Rand felt that rather than supporting capitalism for the morality of its central vision, most capitalists defended it only on practical bases.

In her essay "Global Balkanization" Rand pointed out the following paradoxes: "Capitalism has been called a system of greed—yet it is the system that raised the standard of living of its poorest citizens to heights no collectivist system has ever begun to equal, and no tribal gang can conceive of. Capitalism has been called nationalistic—yet it is the only system that banished ethnicity, and made it possible, in the United States, for men of various, formerly antagonistic nationalities to live together in peace. Capitalism has been called cruel—yet it brought such hope, progress and general good will that the young people of today, who have not seen it, find it hard to believe. As to pride, dignity, self-confidence, self-esteem—these are characteristics that mark a man for martyrdom in a tribal society and under any social system except capitalism."

Tibor Machan explained in the Occasional Review that "for Rand, as for Aristotle, the question How should a human community be organized? can only be answered after the question How should I, a human being, live my life? has been answered. Rand follows the Greek tradition of regarding politics as a subfield of ethics."

Rand's firsthand experience of Communism determined her politics for life. Her family lived through the privations of World War I and then struggled to adapt themselves to the new Communist regime. For her, life in Russia at that time was dreary, and the future held little hope, particularly for one who rejected the system in power. Rand wanted to write about a world as it could be, to show life as she felt it was meant to be lived. As a young girl, she had decided to become a writer. Still, she chose to major in history at the University of Petrograd—now the University of St. Petersburg. She dismissed literature and philosophy, the fields in which she would later make her mark, because she had rejected the majority of what the academic world valued in both of those fields. Aristotle is the only philosopher to whom she acknowledges any intellectual debt; early in her life, she had been attracted to the theories of Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, but she discarded his writing when she encountered his The Birth of Tragedy with its antirational stance. Barbara Branden noted in The Passion of Ayn Rand that Nietzsche, according to Rand, "said that reason is an inferior faculty, that drunken-orgy emotions were superior. That finished him as a spiritual ally." Her favorite novelists were Victor Hugo and Fyodor Dostoevsky, her favorite playwrights Friedrich Schiller and Edmond Rostand.

After graduating with highest honors from the university, Rand found work as a tour guide in the Peter and Paul Fortress. Dreadfully unhappy in Soviet Russia, she was rescued from her dead-end job by a letter from relatives in America. An invitation from the Portnoy family to visit them in Chicago was her passage to freedom. She left Russia in 1926 and never saw members of her immediate family again, except for a sister with whom she was reunited briefly in the early 1970s.

In the United States Alice Rosenbaum became Ayn Rand. Her unique personality and insistent individuality are reflected in her name choice. Her first name, which should be pronounced to sound like the German number one, "ein," rhymes with "pine." The last name she adopted from the Remington-Rand typewriter she used to write her first movie scenarios in America.

Despite her raw language skills, Rand left Chicago after a brief stay and headed for Hollywood where she hoped to make her living writing for the movies. On her sec-ond day in town she was befriended by her favorite American director, Cecil B. DeMille, who took her to watch the shooting of The King of Kings and then gave Rand work first as an extra and then as a junior writer. Rand's April 15, 1929, marriage to Charles Francis "Frank" O'Connor, also an extra in The King of Kings, insured that she would be allowed to stay in America.

Shortly after her marriage, Rand got a job in the wardrobe department of RKO. She hated the work, but it provided sustenance while she improved her English and perfected her craft. Her progress was remarkable, and she was one of a very few writers—like Joseph Conrad and Vladimir Nabokov—to attain artistic success in a language nonnative to them. It is possible that one of Rand's few childhood friends was Nabokov's sister. Barbara Branden tells of the relationship, based on common intellectual interests, in her biography of Rand.

Rand's first novel was written in response to a promise she had made to a friend of her family at a farewell party given for her before she left Russia. Her friend had implored her to tell Americans that Russia was a huge cemetery and that its citizens were slowly dying; in We the Living Rand details the deterioration of spirit and body under the Communist system. In particular, she wanted to show that Communism wreaks havoc not only on average people but particularly on the best and the brightest. All three of the major characters are destroyed. The heroine loses her life; the anti-Communist hero loses his spirit; and the Communist hero's faith and life are so undermined by the excesses he sees in the system that he takes his own life. By making one of her major characters a hero of the revolution, one who had believed fervently in the Communist cause, Rand was able to communicate basic flaws in the system.

In her foreword to the 1959 edition of We the Living Rand warns readers not to dismiss the story of Russia of the 1920s as inapplicable to the Russia of their own day: "We the Living is not a story about Soviet Russia in 1925. It is a story about Dictatorship, any dictatorship, anywhere, at any time, whether it be Soviet Russia, Nazi Germany, or—which this novel might do its share in helping to prevent—a socialist America." Rand continually emphasized that her opposition to Communism was based on the evil of its essential principle, that Man should exist for the sake of the state. She warned Americans against accepting the myth that the Communist ideal was noble, although its methods might be evil.

The publishing world was not taken with Rand's accomplishments in We the Living, which was rejected by many publishing houses as either too intellectual or too anti-Soviet. It was not until after Rand had achieved some success as a playwright that We the Living finally appeared in 1936. Macmillan, the publisher, had so little faith in the novel that they did little promotion and issued only one edition of three thousand copies. The reviews were not enthusiastic. Although Lee E. Cannon in the Christian Century called it "vigorous" and emotionally intense, Ben Belitt in the Nation questioned the accuracy of Rand's depiction of the USSR, claiming that the author was out "to puncture a bubble—with a bludgeon." Rand was often subsequently accused of overkill.

Though neither her publisher nor her reviewers expected much from the book, We the Living earned word-of-mouth recommendation and sold more copies in its second year than just after publication. However, Macmillan had destroyed the type and We the Living was not published again in the United States until it was reissued by Random House in 1959. It has since sold more than two million copies.

Rand's primary reputation is as a novelist, but her first professional success was as a playwright. In all, she wrote four plays, two of which were produced on Broadway. She originally called her first play "Penthouse Legend," but its title was changed twice. Under the title Woman on Trial it opened in October, 1934, at the Hollywood Playhouse under the direction of E.E. Clive. Al Woods then purchased the rights, and under the title Night of January 16th it began a seven-month run on Broadway in September of 1935. A 1973 revival bearing Rand's original title Penthouse Legend was not so successful.

Night of January 16th is significant for dramatic ingenuity as well as for historical sidelights. Rand developed the innovative theatrical device of using audience members at each performance to serve as the jury in this courtroom drama. (A number of celebrities acted as jurors for the play: Jack Dempsey served on the opening night jury; Helen Keller was foreman for an all-blind jury.) Rand wrote alternative endings for the cast to use in response to either the guilty or the not guilty verdict. Moreover, the Broadway production provided actor Walter Pidgeon in the role of "Guts" Regan with a vehicle to revive his flagging career. The play also inspired Gertrude M. Moffat, chair of the New York League of Women Voters, to write to the New York Times to complain of the all-male juries who were initially selected to judge Karen Andre, the defendant in the play. Moffat used the play to question a New York law that specified "male" jurors; women should be judged by their peers, which include women, she argued. The New York law was subsequently changed.

Anthem, a novella first published in England in 1938, is Rand's shortest work. A parable-like dystopian tale, it portrays a totally collectivized world after some great war or holocaust. Originally titled Ego, the work illustrates the negative effects on society of the suppression of individual ego and talent for the supposed good of all: When, in the name of all, no individual is allowed to stand above the others, then all stand in darkness. In the New York Times Book Review Gerald Raftery called the work "a surprising favorite among high-school taste-makers." Larry M. Arnoldson reported in the Journal of Reading that his reading of Anthem to his high school class created a log jam for the school librarian who had only one copy of each of Rand's novels and over fifty students on a waiting list for the books.

The Fountainhead might not have been published at all were it not for the faith of Archibald G. Ogden, then a new young editor for Bobbs-Merrill. He wired the head of the company, who had told him to reject it, "If this is not the book for you, then I am not the editor for you." At that point it had already been refused by some dozen other publishers.

Rand had done extensive research before she began writing The Fountainhead, which was originally titled "Secondhand Lives." Although she worked for some time in the office of Eli Jacques Kahn, a famous New York architect, Rand's main purpose was not to extol the profession of architecture. The central theme in this novel, as in the ones before it, is individualism versus collectivism, the difference being that in The Fountain-head the focus is not on the political system, as it was in We the Living, but on what Rand called collectivism in the soul. The Fountainhead is a defense of egoism, a positive rational egoism. Protagonist Howard Roark explains to Dominique Francon at one point in the book, "To say 'I love you' one must know first how to say the 'I.'" The egoism Rand defined in this novel is an integral part of the individualism she championed, just as the selfishness she described is a virtue as opposed to the selflessness she abhorred.

In The Fountainhead Rand moved closer to her goal of creating the ideal man. Because of the resemblance in their professions and architectural styles, it was generally assumed that Howard Roark was modeled after Frank Lloyd Wright. Barbara Branden asserted in Who Is Ayn Rand?: An Analysis of the Novels of Ayn Rand, however, that Rand insisted, "The only resemblance is in their basic architectural principles and in the fact that Wright was an innovator fighting for modern architecture against tradition. There is no similarity in their respective characters, nor in their philosophical convictions, nor in the events in their lives." Rand had tried unsuccessfully to interview Wright while she was writing her novel. It was only after the success of The Fountainhead that they established an amicable relationship. Eventually he designed a home for her; it was never built.

Asked about the models for her other main characters, Rand remarked that Wynand could have been William Randolph Hearst or Henry Luce or Joseph Pulitzer. Harold Laski, the British socialist, was the main model for Ellsworth Toohey. Other lesser sources for Toohey were Heywood Broun, Lewis Mumford, and Clifton Fadiman, although when Rand met Fadiman some years later, they liked each other. A young woman Rand had met in Hollywood, whose main goal was not to have things because she wanted them but only so that she would have more than her neighbors, was the inspiration for Peter Keating. Rand characterized the book's heroine, Dominique Francon, as herself in a bad mood.

In The Fountainhead Rand declares that Roark's success progresses "as if an underground stream flowed through the country and broke out in sudden springs that shot to the surface at random, in unpredictable places." She might have been discussing the publishing history of her novel. Although D.L. Chambers, the head of Bobbs-Merrill, had ultimately supported Ogden's dedication to the book, he did not give The Fountainhead his wholehearted support once it was published. Rather than print significant numbers of new editions as the book gained popularity, he kept issuing small editions that quickly went out of print. When Bobbs-Merrill decided to produce a twenty-fifth anniversary deluxe edition in 1968, Nora Ephron, not an admirer of Rand's theories or writing abilities, noted in the New York Times Book Review that The Fountainhead was "one of the most astonishing phenomena in publishing history." At that date it had sold over two and one-half million copies. By the 1980s the number of copies sold was closer to four and one-half million.

Positive reviewers appreciated the powerful writing, intensity, and dramatic plot of The Fountainhead. Rand's favorite review was by Lorine Pruette in the New York Times Book Review. Pruette correctly identified The Fountainhead as a novel of ideas, pointing out that a novel of ideas by an American woman was a rarity. She lauded the quality of Rand's intellect, calling her "a writer of great power" with "a subtle and ingenious mind and the capacity of writing brilliantly, beautifully, bitterly."

The success of The Fountainhead brought Rand to the attention of her kind of reader: individuals who shared her perception of life. It also precipitated a lucrative movie sale, which necessitated a move back to Hollywood from New York, where Rand and her husband had moved for the Broadway production of "Night of January 16th." In California they bought a house of steel and glass in very modern design, a house that might have been designed by Roark. There Rand wrote the screenplay for The Fountainhead and major parts of Atlas Shrugged.

In 1950 Nathaniel Branden wrote a fan letter to Rand which so impressed her that she did something quite uncharacteristic: she answered his letter. Their meeting set in motion a series of events that would profoundly affect many lives. By the time Rand's next book was published, Branden had joined Frank O'Connor on the dedication page. Her afterword describes Branden as her "ideal reader" and "intellectual heir." Branden and his wife, Barbara Weidman Branden, became more than fans and students; they became close friends and intellectual allies. The Brandens' move to New York was followed shortly by a similar move by Rand and Frank O'Connor.

The Brandens introduced many of their friends and relatives to Rand and these people formed a close group called by Rand "the class of '43" because of their shared interest in The Fountainhead, which had been published in that year. She also called them "the children," by which she meant that they were the children of her brain. Members of this group included Alan Greenspan, who became head of the Federal Reserve System and economic advisor to several presidents; Leonard Peikoff, Barbara Branden's cousin and Rand's literary executor; Nathaniel Branden's sister, Elayne Kalberman, circulation manager for The Objectivist Newsletter; Kalberman's husband, Harry Kalberman; Allan Blumenthal; Edith Efron; Mary Ann Rukavina; and Robert and Beatrice Hessen. They were privy to a prepublication reading of Atlas Shrugged, and from their ranks the philosophical movement Rand called Objectivism was born.

Atlas Shrugged was to be Rand's last novel, but it initiated her career as a well-known philosopher and public figure. She became a popular campus speaker in the 1960s, a regular at the Ford Hall Forum, and a columnist for the Los Angeles Times. She was interviewed by Johnny Carson, Tom Snyder, Phil Donahue, and Playboy. Branden began teaching her basic philosophical principles through a twenty-lecture course of study offered by Nathaniel Branden Lectures and eventually the Nathaniel Branden Institute. A publication branch of the Institute printed essays and monographs; a book service sold approved books. The first issue of The Objectivist Newsletter, which was published from 1962–65, contained articles by Rand, both Brandens, and Greenspan. The Objectivist Newsletter was replaced in 1966 by The Objectivist. In 1971 the format was changed to a simple typewritten letter called The Ayn Rand Letter. Rand continued issuing numbers of this letter until February of 1976.

In Atlas Shrugged Rand accomplished her goal of creating the ideal man. His name is John Galt, and he and a number of like-minded followers succeed in stopping the motor of the world by removing themselves and their productive capacities from exploitation by those forces they regard as looters and leeches. All of Rand's novels dramatize the primacy of the individual. The unique and precious individual human life is the standard by which good is judged. If something nourishes and sustains life, it is good; if it negates or impoverishes the individual's pursuit of happiness, then it is evil. The secondary themes in Rand's fiction unfold as the logical consequence of her major theme, but it was not until Atlas Shrugged, the fullest explication in fiction of her philosophy, that Rand worked out all the political, economic, and metaphysical implications of that theme.

Critical calumny greeted the publication of Atlas Shrugged, especially from the battlements of the conservative establishment. Whittaker Chambers in the National Review called it "remarkably silly," "bumptious," and "preposterous." He remarked, "Out of a lifetime of reading, I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained. Its shrillness is without reprieve. Its dogmatism is without appeal." Catholic World's Riley Hughes called it a "shrill diatribe against 'non-productive' people." Hughes further claimed that though Rand decried mysticism, her book is full of parallels to Christianity: "Her John Galt is offered as a secular savior (Dagny is his Magdalene); and his disciples find him at his place of torture." In the Saturday Review, Helen Beal Woodward, who conceded that "Rand is a writer of dazzling virtuosity," reacted negatively to the "stylized vice-and-virtue characters" and "prolixity." Woodward found Atlas Shrugged a book "shot through with hatred."

Such critical attacks had no effect on the reading public, who made Atlas Shrugged a multi-million dollar selling phenomenon. Atlas Shrugged, like Uncle Tom's Cabin, is a book that fueled a movement. Its publication established Rand as a thinker whose influence extended to such diverse locales as Parliament (former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was an admirer); tennis courts (Billie Jean King acknowledged Rand's effect on her); the Federal Reserve System (Greenspan called her instrumental in forming his thinking); and the Alaskan legislature, which issued a citation in memoriam of Rand at the request of Dick Randolph, a Libertarian legislator.

The publication of For the New Intellectual: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand in 1961 began a series of nonfiction books that anthologized her essays on such diverse subjects as the American public school system, Romanticism, and racism. In her nonfiction writings as well as in her fiction, she characterizes the main areas of conflict in the field of human rights: (1) individualism versus collectivism, (2) egoism versus altruism, (3) reason versus mysticism. In Rand's philosophy all of these areas are interconnected. Reason is the tool by which the individual discerns that which is life-sustaining and ego-nourishing. Collectivism, altruism, and mysticism work against individual freedom, a healthy ego, and rationality.

Rand's career as the leader of an intellectual movement had two phases. Until 1968 Branden was her chief spokesperson and teacher of her philosophies. In that year Rand broke with both Brandens, who had separated by then. The rupture, with its public response, established divisions between friends and relatives that never healed. It also established divisions among her other admirers: some remained purists, continuing to call themselves Objectivists and publishing only that which was sanctioned by Rand or which did not deviate from her dictums; others acknowledged influence, but moved from the letter of Rand's philosophy to other interpretations and permutations. Leonard Peikoff became Rand's associate editor for The Objectivist. Peikoff also edited posthumous volumes of Rand's writings, including The Voice of Reason: Essays in Objectivist Thought. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called this collection of Rand's thoughts on art, politics, literature, philosophy, and economics "prickly, well-articulated polemic, at times persuasive, at times infuriating: prime Rand." Also commenting on the collection, which includes diatribes against modern art and the Catholic Church, and a eulogy for Marilyn Monroe, a Booklist reviewer wrote that the essays "are entirely characteristic of [Rand]—surprisingly emotional and dogmatic for a professed rationalist."

To the end of her life, Rand continued to create controversy and inordinate audience response. She possessed great charisma and an intense intellectuality that affected both admirers and detractors. Her last years were clouded by ill health—she lost a lung to cancer—and grief—her husband, who she called her greatest value, died in 1979. Yet she made an appearance on a Phil Donahue show in 1979, affirming her love of life and her belief that there is no hereafter. If she believed in a hereafter, she explained, her desire to be with her husband would necessitate her committing suicide so as to join him. Some four months before her death, she delivered a speech at the conference of the National Committee for Monetary Reform. Thus until her death alone in her apartment on March 6, 1982, Rand's unquenchable spirit continued to assert itself.

The publication of Rand's private correspondence more than a decade after her death confirmed her superior intellect and revealed the tenacity with which she held her lifelong political and philosophical convictions. Commenting on Letters of Ayn Rand in the New York Times Book Review, Christopher Cox remarked that the writer "was constitutionally opposed to others' paraphrases of her ideas. Fortunately, her own private letters provide the most concisely written explanation upon them so far." According to Washington Post Book World contributor Jeffrey A. Frank, "Rand's outlook and spirit were more or less intact from the time she disembarked to her dying day. She wouldn't—or couldn't—change." Cox added, "the brutal honesty of her letters provides not only a wealth of serious thought but also some of the most entertaining passages in a remarkable volume that easily rises to the level of literature." Rand proclaimed in a 1934 letter to H.L. Mencken, quoted by Frank, "I believe that man will always be an individualist, whether he knows it or not, and I want to make it my duty to make him know it."



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New York Times, April 19, 1936; October 13, 1957, review of Atlas Shrugged; March 9, 1966; March 10, 1982; September 13, 1987.

New York Times Book Review, May 16, 1943, Lorine Pruette, review of The Fountainhead; April 9, 1961; February 27, 1966, Gerald Raftery, review of Anthem; December 22, 1967; May 5, 1968; August 6, 1995, p. 9.

Objectivist Forum, June, 1982; August, 1982; October, 1982; December, 1982.

Occasional Review, winter, 1976.

Personalist, spring, 1971.

Playboy, March, 1964.

Publishers Weekly, November 18, 1988, p. 58; May 8, 1995, p. 278.

Rampart Journal of Individualist Thought, spring, 1968.

Reason, November, 1973; May, 1978; December, 1982.

Religious Humanism, winter, 1970.

San Francisco Chronicle, April 9, 1961.

Saturday Evening Post, November 11, 1961.

Saturday Review, October 12, 1957.

Saturday Review of Literature, April 18, 1936.

Time, October 14, 1957; September 30, 1974.

Washington Post Book World, December 12, 1982; July 9, 1995.

West Coast Review of Books, November, 1984.


"Donahue," WGN-TV, Chicago, Illinois, April 29, 1979.