The publication of the letters of Ayn Rand is a cause for celebration, not only among the countless millions of Ayn Rand admirers the world over, but also among all those interested in the key political, philosophical, and artistic issues of our century. For there is no separation between Ayn Rand the vibrant, creative woman and Ayn Rand the intellectual dynamo, the rational thinker, who was also a passionately committed champion of individual freedom.
These remarkable letters begin in 1926, with a note from the twenty-year-old Ayn Rand, newly arrived in Chicago from Soviet Russia, an impoverished unknown determined to realize the promise of the land of opportunity. They move through her struggles and successes as a screenwriter, a playwright, and a novelist, her sensational triumph as the author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and her eminence as founder and shaper of Objectivism, one of the most challenging philosophies of our time. They are written to such famed contemporaries as Cecil B. DeMille, Frank Lloyd Wright, H.L. Mencken, Alexander Kerensky, Barry Goldwater and Mickey Spillane
There are letters to philosophers, priests, publishers, and political columnists; to her beloved husband, Frank O' Connor; and to her intimate circle of friends and her growing legion of followers. Her letters range in tone from warm affection to icy fury, and in content from telling commentaries on the events of the day to unforgettably eloquent statements of her philosophical ideas. They are presented chronologically, with explanatory notes by Michael S. Berliner, who identifies the recipients of the letters and provides relevant background and context. Here is a chronicle that captures the indpiring drama of a towering literary genius and seminal thinker, and--often day-by-day--her amazing life.
Novelist, screenwriter, philosopher and staunch advocate of laissez-faire capitalism, Ayn Rand (1905-1982) saw communism, Nazism and fascism as kindred evils sprung from the same collectivist mentality. Her atheist philosophy, which she called objectivism and which was reflected in her bestselling novels?The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged?extolled individualism, voluntary cooperation and conscious choice while condemning altruism (living for others) and self-sacrifice as moral fallacies. These themes resound in her outspoken, sometimes strident correspondence, which includes letters to Senator Barry Goldwater, Frank Lloyd Wright, H.L. Mencken, Dashiell Hammett, Cecil B. DeMille and actors Robert Stack and Barbara Stanwyck. Sprinkled with critiques of liberals, leftists and others whom she saw as corrupted by collectivist thinking, the voluminous correspondence reflects Rand's desperate concern for her parents and sisters, trapped under Stalinism in her native Russia (which she left for Hollywood in 1926), and includes her analyses of her novels' plots as well as pessimistic cultural commentary on an America she considered to be in decline. Berliner is executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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January 31, 1997
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