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Saturday 2 January 2010

Ayn Rand

I don't believe in coincidences; I'm convinced there's an underlying reason why concurrent events seem to occur without apparent causal connection. For instance, on Thursday I noticed that Sara has got stuck into yet another blockbusting classic novel. It was lodged on the corner of the kitchen table, as big as a brick but far more interesting with an arresting cover that caught my eye: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. Hmmm... I sat down, cup of green tea in hand and started reading. My allotted fifteen minutes passed far too quickly and I reluctantly returned the tome to its resting place before returning myself to my workstation.

Last night, as the world outside my window was blanketed in a white duvet, I dived into my pre-heated bed to watch another episode of Mad Men (set in the glamorous world of a Madison Avenue advertising agency in the 60s – it's excellent), the series that Santa so kindly left at my request. I was deep in episode eight when advertising exec, Donald Draper, was handed a cheque for $2,500 by his boss who pointed to a large book on his shelf and asked: "Have you read her? Rand, Atlas Shrugged. That’s the one." He looked meaningfully at his employee and advised him to take $1.99 and buy himself a copy! It was obviously a sign, aimed at the reader in me to go out and get myself a copy post-haste.

Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum was born in Russia (1905 – 1982). She studied, at the University of Petrograd, in the department of social pedagogy, majoring in history and was an ardent student of Aristotle, Pluto and Nietzsche. On her emigration to the US in 1926, she decided on Ayn Rand as a professional name for her writing and began her career as a screenwriter in Hollywood. Rand embraced philosophical realism and objectivism the essence of which she described as, "the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."

Of all her writing, she is best remembered for two of her novels: The Fountainhead, written in 1943, a slim volume that concentrates on the life of architect Howard Roark who struggles in obscurity rather than compromise his personal and artistic vision. And also Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957, that tells of a man who said that he would stop the motor of the world - and did. When the character Francisco d’Anconia is asked what sort of advice someone would give Atlas, he replied that he’d tell him "to shrug". Well, I for one, am intrigued!

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Blogger louisa said...

Jennifer Burns, author of "Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right" talks to Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. If you're outside the U.S. you can still watch the video if you do this.

January 02, 2010 1:33 PM  

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