Ayn Rand was born Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum on February 2, 1905. She died on March 6, 1982. She was a Russian-born American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter. She is best known for her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism. She advocated rational individualism and laissez-faire capitalism, and categorically rejected socialism, altruism, and religion. She left Russia and arrived in America where she adopted the name Ayn Rand and became a successful writer.
My first contact with Ayn Rand’s writing was when I found, in a tiny bookshop, a second-hand copy of her novella, Anthem.
I read Anthem and found it wonderful, insightful, inspiring. At the back of the book, there were advertisements for two other books of hers: The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Within the year, I’d bought and read The Fountainhead.
It did what books are supposed to do; it changed me. It changed my life, my outlook, my views, my method of thinking. And then I read Atlas Shrugged.
It was followed by We The Living. The cover of We The Living (by Nick Gaetano) was one of the most haunting pictures I had seen for a long time. I have a copy of the original artwork on my wall.
I won’t give you a plot synopsis, but if you want to read a great novel with an individual versus the state theme, then The Fountainhead is the book for you. After that you could try Anthem, Atlas Shrugged and We The Living. They’re all excellent.
As a writer, I learned a lot from Ayn Rand. I can now see that she’s not a particularly elegant stylist – her prose is quite clunky in places – but she is able to convey some rather large ideas in fairly fast-paced and well-plotted narratives. What Ayn Rand did for me was show me that as a writer I could incorporate philosophical ideas into my stories; that I could anchor them to the plot, to the characters, to the subtext, and the story would gain another layer of meaning.
When my novel Myth was published, I dedicated it to Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum, the young Russian woman who dreamed of making her way to America and becoming a successful writer.
I dedicated Myth to the memory of the woman who became Ayn Rand.
What Ayn Rand Did For Me
© R J Dent (2009 & 2011)