Book Reviews

Who was Ayn Rand?

Ayn Rand was born 2 February 1905 in St. Petersburg [Leningrad], Russia, nee Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum. She came to America in 1926, lived for a while with relatives in Chicago, then moved to Hollywood, where she worked for Cecil B. DeMille and others. She met and married Frank O’Connor on 15 April 1929, and she became a U.S. citizen in 1931.

Ayn Rand was one of the most important philosophers of the XXth Century.

popupShe and Frank moved to New York City, after which her first major work, the play now known as “The Night of January 16th”, was produced in Los Angeles & on Broadway (1934-35); her first published novel was “We The Living” in 1936. The novel “Anthem” was published in 1938; her stage play “The Unconquered” had a short Broadway run in 1940; and her novel “The Fountainhead” was published in 1943. She and Frank then returned to California, partly due to her involvement in the filming of “The Fountainhead”, which was released by Warner Bros. in 1949.

Before she and Frank moved back to New York City in October, 1951, she met future associates Nathaniel & Barbara Branden and Leonard Peikoff. Her most famous work and final novel “Atlas Shrugged” was published in 1957, which remained on the New York Times bestseller list for 21 weeks. Thereafter, she wrote non-fiction and worked in a range of media – lectures, radio shows, The Objectivist Newsletter, magazine articles, a column in the Los Angeles Times, and personal appearances on “The Tonight Show”, “Today”, and other television programs.

“I am not primarily an advocate of capitalism, but of egoism; I am not primarily an advocate of egoism, but of reason. If one recognizes the supremacy of reason and applies it consistently, all the rest follows. This – the supremacy of reason – was, is and will be the primary concern of my work, and the essence of Objectivism.”

Ayn Rand (in “The Objectivist” of September 1971)

ayn-rand-margaret-sanger-pjmedia       A major breakup with the Brandens occurred in 1968, resulting in their public ‘repudiation’ and the disbandment of the Nathaniel Branden Institute. Leonard Peikoff was designated Ayn Rand’s sole legal heir, and is now her self-appointed intellectual heir. The Objectivist ceased publication in September 1971, succeeded by the bi-weekly Ayn Rand Letter the month after.
She survived a diagnosis of lung cancer in 1974, though her activities were slowed somewhat; the Ayn Rand Letter was discontinued in 1976. Frank O’Connor died in November 1979, a heart-wrenching event from which Ayn Rand never quite recovered.

“The Objectivist Forum” began publication in February 1980 (it continued after her death, until 1987), and the “Ayn Rand Library” book series was begun. Ayn Rand died of heart failure in New York City on 6 March 1982, and was buried at Valhalla, NY.

Many non-fiction compilation books and the six books of the “Ayn Rand Library” were completed and published posthumously. Many books by others about Ayn Rand – both for and against her theories – are still being written and published successfully, and her own works sell 300,000 copies each year. The Ayn Rand Institute continues to spread her ideas and ideals, while the expulsion of several staff members in 1990 resulted in the competing Institute for Objectivist Studies, retitled recently as The Objectivist Center.

13c15247c1779c86aeb72b7ad4e4b64e       A seeming renaissance in Ayn Rand’s popularity began in the 1990’s, with two U.S. postage stamps in her honor, the 1998 documentary feature film, “Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life” was nominated for an Oscar, and inclusion of both “Atlas Shrugged” and “The Fountainhead” in the top ten of many lists of ‘Best (or Most Important) Novels of the XXth Century’. A restoration of the Italian “We The Living” was re-released in December 2003.

After years of on-again, off-again ‘development hell’, the three-part TV miniseries version of “Atlas Shrugged” finally began filming in June 2010 and is being released theatrically in three parts: Part 1 in April 2011, Part 2 in October 2012, and Part 3 after that.

Ayn Rand’s Favorite Things

Ayn Rand’s Favorite Poem

Ayn Rand: “..as close to a great work of art as the films have yet come” [1969]
“Die  Nibelungen: Siegfried” [U.F.A. Germany Feb 1924]
Co-written & directed by Fritz Lang [1890-1976]; full credits from IMDb

Ayn Rand’s Favorite Modern Novelist: Mickey Spillane [1918-2006]

Ayn Rand: “..one of the greatest plays in all world literature”
“Monna Vanna” [1902] by Count Maurice Maeterlinck

1843 “The Works of Jeremy Benthem”

Ayn Rand’s Hobby: Stamp-Collecting

If Ayn Rand were alive today, noir graphic artist Frank Miller would be one of her favorites.
(He has stated that he began his comic artist career after reading Ayn Rand’s book “Romantic Manifesto” [1969].)

Ayn Rand’s Least-Favorite Things
Ayn Rand: “..the most evil book in serious literature” : Anna Karenina
Ayn Rand: “..the worst and most dangerous magazine in America” (1964): National Review
Immanuel Kant is the real villain of our age, the villain of European history.” — Ayn Rand, 1979

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