Atlas Shrugged

  Puppy: off
  Word of the day: fidelity

After I got Debbie to read Atlas Shrugged, including the forty-page political speech, we decided that it was a science fiction novel. Somehow I don’t think Ayn Rand had to struggle even as hard as Kurt Vonnegut to avoid the sf brand, as deadly to ’serious’ writers as a role on a Star Trek series is to serious actors. But if 1984 gets any credit for being in the speculative fiction genre, then Atlas Shrugged deserves it too. There’s absolutely no question that Rand’s novella Anthem is science fiction as well.

I have to admit that Ayn Rand impressed me immensely when I first read her, eleven years ago. First of all, I hadn’t imagined that someone could make a moral argument for capitalism, or against communism - I thought all debate on that issue would have to be pragmatic, saying that we are not saints enough for communism so we put our vices to good use through capitalism. That the woman had the gall to make selfishness a virtue, and then devote her life to making a philosophy out of it, and then, on top of that, to write novels based on her own personal aesthetic - good novels - amazed me on all the levels involved, philosophical, moral and literary. That was the day I should have known I wanted to be a writer.

“Katie, why do they always teach us that it’s easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves? It’s the hardest thing in the world–to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage. I mean, what we really want.” (The Fountainhead)

I’m going to have to hunt down The Romantic Manifesto: A Philosophy of Literature and reread it, since Christine has been quite rightly pestering me for not knowing what the point is I’m trying to make in my stories. Ayn Rand was never at a loss for the moral of the story.

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