[ExI] Attacking Rand

Dan dan_ust at yahoo.com
Tue Jun 9 18:10:59 UTC 2009

--- On Tue, 6/9/09, Eschatoon Magic <eschatoon at gmail.com> wrote:
> I am frequently surprised by how
> often the name of Rand appears on the
> list. I tried often reading some of her novels, but always
> gave up
> after a few pages because I found them too boring.

I have to admit, I felt that way about half way through _Atlas Shrugged_, but I liked her other novels.  I'd chalk this up to tastes.

> My impression is
> that she was a very minor writer, with some interesting
> ideas like
> most writers, but certainly not one of the major writers of
> thinkers
> of the 20th century.

I don't think she's a minor writer, but I reckon this depends on what criterion or criteria you use to determine who's a major writer.  Certainly in terms of continued readership, she's not minor.  In terms of esthetic criteria, I'm not so sure, but I wouldn't shortchange her.  Granted, she was writing in a style that was out of step with most of the literary avant garde.  (Not completely.  See, e.g., her play "Night of January the 16th" and some of her short stories, which, in a way, seem very 20th century -- in terms of technique and the psychological focus.)
> I would not agree on the proposed use of her novels in the
> toilet
> because in my opinion no writer deserves that (try writing
> a novel
> yourself and see what I mean),

That's charitable, though my impression is Rand was a pretty good writer overall -- not merely a passable one.  I'm not going to say she was flawless; I don't think any writer is, though some have more and more glaring flaws than others.  (I do think good writing is something that can be objectively determined within limits, so this isn't, in my mind, a matter of taste.)

> but I don't understand the positive or
> negative fascination with Rand that so many people on this
> list seem
> to have. Can anyone explain it to me? Here in Europe most
> learned
> people have no idea of who she was.

It's probably partly a North American thing.  Rand's biggest following -- and probably biggest pool of detractors too :) -- is located in North America, I believe.  (Granted, she has a large following in New Zealand, Sweden, and other places.)  I think she's a formative influence -- via her novels -- on a lot of Americans and Canadians, especially those with libertarian leanings.  That's my guess.

A sad part of this, though, is that people tend to state she's either a towering artist or crap based on whether they, respectively, accept or reject her philosophy and politics.




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