Both as a thinker and as an artist, Ayn Rand swam against the tide. As a philosopher, she was an uncompromising champion of reason, individualism and pure capitalism. As a novelist, she was an impassioned Romantic. In both capacities, she was startling, original, unprecedented. And in both roles she obtained a worldwide audience for her philosophy of Objectivism.
The goal of her writing, she said, was not to capture a "slice of life," but to project her moral vision of man "as he might and ought to be."
And so the protagonists of her bestsellers (We the Living, Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged ) are heroic, Promethean individualists—embattled titans in a world of envious Lilliputians.
And rejecting the notion that a "serious" novel had to be dull, she dramatized her philosophical themes in intricate plots loaded with color, romance, adventure and grandeur.
"In a certain sense, every novelist is a philosopher, because one cannot present a picture of human existence without a philosophical framework." Ayn Rand, 1960
In addition to penning best-selling novels, Rand wrote serious works on philosophy and cultural and political analysis and criticism. Some of these articles and essays appeared in magazines such as Cosmopolitan, the New York Times Magazine, and Human Events.
In 1962 she and Nathaniel Branden began publishing The Objectivist Newsletter, which was renamed The Objectivist in 1966. That same year the newsletter serialized Rand's "Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology." Her highly influential book Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal was published in 1966, and included chapters by economists Alan Greenspan and Robert Hessen, and Rand's former associate Nathaniel Branden. In 1971 the newsletter was renamed The Ayn Rand Letter. Several books with material culled from her newsletter articles were published posthumously.
Explore the links below to learn more about this fascinating author's fiction and non-fiction work.
Atlas Shrugged (1957) This is Ayn Rand’s masterwork – her monumental story of the man who swore he would stop the motor of the world, and did. It is the novel in which Rand first presented and dramatized her radical morality of rational self-interest – and which has launched a philosophical revolution.
The Fountainhead (1943) The powerful novel that made Ayn Rand famous: the story of a rebellious individualist, architect Howard Roark – and his battle to live and work by his own standards.
Anthem (1938) A beautifully written and inspiring novelette of a man who, in a totally collectivist future, rediscovers his own sense of selfhood.
We the Living (1936) The dramatic story of one young woman’s struggle for freedom during Russian Revolution, as she is torn between two men: the aristocrat she loves, and the dangerous communist who loves her.
These early short stories were not intended for publication, but were written while Ayn Rand was still learning her literary craft and gaining familiarity with the English language. They have considerable charm, however, and contain the seeds of ideas and values that would characterize her mature work. These stories and others are anthologized in The Early Ayn Rand.
"The Simplest Thing in the World" (1940). This short story, which shows how an artist’s values affect his creative processes, appears in Ayn Rand’s nonfiction work, The Romantic Manifesto: A Philosophy of Literature.
"Red Pawn" (c. 1931-32). This short story, set in a Soviet prison camp for political dissidents, dramatizes enduring themes of individualism and love.
Read: A Glimpse of the Early Ayn Rand.
Night of January 16th (1936) This exciting courtroom melodrama ran successfully on Broadway, and is a staple of the amateur stage. A truly unique feature of this play is that the jury is chosen from the audience—and how they decide the trial is determined by their philosophies.
Ideal (1934) The theme of this bitter play centers on people’s willingness to betray their highest values. It appears in the anthology of Rand’s work titled The Early Ayn Rand.
Unconquered (1938) Ayn Rand adapted this play from her novel, We the Living. Though it ran on Broadway briefly, it was not successful. It has not yet been published
Think Twice (1939) A clever murder mystery, and the first of Rand’s mature works, this play appears in the collection The Early Ayn Rand.
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