Books by Ayn Rand

IDEAL by Ayn Rand
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: July 7, 2015

"The two versions, though, are useful to students of Rand's work—and there's a dissertation waiting in her use of the stilted possessive. Otherwise, a mere curio."
ANTHEM by Ayn Rand
GRAPHIC NOVELS & COMIC BOOKS
Released: Feb. 1, 2011

"A Rand primer with pictures."
A graphic novel for devotees of Ayn Rand. Read full book review >
LETTERS OF AYN RAND by Ayn Rand
BIOGRAPHY & MEMOIR
Released: June 12, 1995

These letters by novelist (The Fountainhead, not reviewed, etc.), political thinker, and all-around, self-described ``intellectual egotist'' Rand (190582) prove oddly revealing of their peculiar, indomitable author. Berliner, the executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute, has done an admirable job of assembling and editing Rand's letters (though her correspondents' replies are mostly absent); his commentary seems quite judicious, as well. These letters maintain a uniformly strident tone. Whether advancing her career through flattery and opportunism by writing to Cecil B. DeMille, Frank Lloyd Wright, and other notables, or advancing an ersatz philosophy—``Objectivism''—constructed out of anti-communist bromides and specious ratiocination, Rand crafts bracing prose. Most letters concern business in New York and Hollywood, the struggle against ``collectivism,'' and the maintenance of a growing group of fans. Rand often appears almost comically heartless. ``Altruism is the curse of the world,'' she aphorizes early on. Of aesthetic matters she seems insensible. Would-be writers receive banal exhortations to focus on plot and character, and reflections on her novels make them sound more one-dimensional than they are. A steady undercurrent of real pathos flows through this book, however: Rand describes the necessity to exercise self-censorship when writing letters (since lost) to her family, who were suffering tragically under dictatorship in her native Russia. If Rand developed her own authoritarianism, she did so in protective reaction to Stalinism. In her old age, she turns down an opportunity to write on the theme ``the childhood day I will always remember,'' because, she writes, ``what I regard as significant are certain trends and intellectual developments in my childhood, but not single days or events.'' Such chilling passages suggest that the terror which robbed her of her childhood and her family blighted her sensibility as well. Objectivists will find much reinforcement in this volume; more objective readers may find it truly depressing. Read full book review >
NONFICTION
Released: Jan. 12, 1988

A provocative collection of speeches and essays by the controversial Rand (d. 1982; author of Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, etc.). Rand's longtime associate and literary executor, Peikoff, has collected here more than 20 of her statements on politics, art, literature, economics, and philosophy. Peikoff succinctly defines Rand's philosophy of "Objectivism" in his introduction: "Objectivism upholds capitalism in politics, on the basis of egoism in ethics, on the basis of reason in epistemology." Rand insisted that there is an objective reality, and was a passionate and convincing advocate of individual liberty. For example, in her 1968 essay "Of Living Death," Rand challenges the "mystical doctrines that underlie the Roman Catholic Church's opposition to contraception and abortion." Rand concludes, "Abortion is a moral right. . . Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to [a woman] what disposition she has to make of the functions of her own body?" In "The Inverted Moral Priorities," Rand makes a rousing defense of wealth as the source of creativity and productivity in our economy; in "The Intellectual Bankruptcy of Our Age," she urges liberals to reclaim their intellectual heritage by returning their support to laissez-faire capitalism. Rand unabashedly celebrated the creative force of the free human mind that creates industries, science, and art out of the brute facts of nature. She believed that the US was the last, best hope of mankind, and feared that collectivist dogmas like communism and fascism were undermining America's Enlightenment heritage of individual liberty and private property. Prickly, well-articulated polemic, at times persuasive, at times infuriating: prime Rand. Read full book review >
Released: Aug. 21, 1984

Nearly 400 pages never intended for publication - assembled and fulsomely introduced by Rand's longtime protégé. From the Twenties come four amateurish short stories, which do demonstrate Rand's remarkably quick acquisition of basic narrative skills in English after her immigration from Russia; Peikoff also analyzes each work (except for an O. Henry-ish trifle) to find early evidence of the Objectivist philosophy - with much emphasis on "man-worship," "valuers," and Rand-style idealism. From the early 1930s comes her first professional work, a scenario for a movie (sold to Universal for $1500) called Red Pawn; a heavy-handed illustration of "Communism vs. man-worship," it ends in a Rand-ian blaze of uplift. ("He took her in his arms and kissed her. It was a long kiss. He wanted to sum up his life in it. They walked out together, her hand in his. The sun greeted them, rising over the forest. It rose slowly and its rays were like arms outstretched in a solemn blessing.") Two unpublished excerpts from Rand's first novel We the Living follow - "No" (a collage of scenes from life in Soviet Russia) and "Kira's Viking," with the Rand-ian heroine's dream of freedom. And, though the volume closes with unpublished excerpts from The Fountainhead, two never-produced stage plays take up the most space: Ideal (1934), which presents Rand, admits editor Peikoff, in an uncharacteristic "bad mood" (her hero is a bitter misfit, a "true idealist…in a minuscule minority amid an earthful of value-betrayers"); and Think Twice (1939) is a "philosophical murder mystery," heavy on Rand themes and (especially at the close) stiff dialogue. Unselective and adoring: for Rand disciples only, though a curious few may want to browse a bit. Read full book review >
THE ROMANTIC MANIFESTO by Ayn Rand
NONFICTION
Released: Nov. 24, 1969

These are articles from Miss Rand's publication, The Objectivist (cf. earlier political essays from the same provenance - Capitalism: also The Virtue of Selfishness) and once again there are the same deep contralto pronunciamentos. "One does not have to agree with an artist (nor even to enjoy him) in order to evaluate his work. In essence, an objective evaluation requires that one identify the artist's theme." True enough, but this is very difficult to do when, in the early chapters, Miss Rand is writing on the "Psycho-Epistemology of Art" or "Art and Sense of Life" ("A sense of life is a pre-conceptual equivalent of metaphysics, an emotional, subconsciously integrated appraisal of man and of existence."). If she lost you there, you'll find her only too easy to follow when writing about romanticism, romantic art, and the basic principles of literature. Miss Rand dislikes the contemporary "cultural sewer"; also the "unsanitary backyard" of Tolstoy; and firmly admires Victor Hugo, Mickey Spillane and Ian Fleming. She also returns again and again to The Fountainhead of her original beliefs in the "ideal man" reprinting scenes and excerpts thereof, along with the one negligible short story. $$$$ or sense? Read full book review >
THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS by Ayn Rand
NONFICTION
Released: Nov. 29, 1965

This is a collection of 19 short essays which have appeared in The Objectivist Newsletter. 15 of the essays are by Ayn Rand, 4 by Nathaniel Brandon and they are devoted to explaining the "Objectivist" attitude towards such subjects as the nature of man, self-sacrifice, racism, mental health, the role of government, socialism and other questions of an ethical nature. According to Ayn Rand, the "Objectivist Ethics" "holds man's life as the standard of value and his own life as the ethical purpose of every individual man." It is thus advocates what she calls "rational selfishness" and opposes hedonist or altruist doctrines which maintain, she says, "that the happiness of one man necessitates the injury of another." In applying the hierarchical standards of "Objectivism" to politics and economics she eventually insists upon a laissez faire type of economy as being "the only system that can uphold individual rights." She would have the very financing of government (which she admits is a certain necessity) itself on a "voluntary" basis. Her theories lead her to incorporate a number of slogans embraced by the right-wing, such as, "without property rights no other rights are possible" and this no doubt endears her to conservatives. But she gives them the back of her hand too, particularly for their racist tendencies. Her style is a decidedly peremptory one anyway but perhaps this is the only stance she can take in view of the intractability of her material. Read full book review >
ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand
Released: Oct. 10, 1957

One finds oneself virtually under an indefinable compulsion to keep reading once caught in the mesh of sheer story telling as Ayn Rand weaves the strands of her fantasy. With one part of reason, one tries to reject the grim horror of the portrait she draws of the final bastion of the once free world falling into a new sort of Dark Ages. The sins of the power magnates are taking their toll. In terror over the threat to their security contained in the ruthless drive of a few leaders of industry, they sell out their initiative, their imagination, their creative powers, their right to independence of thought and action to government, in exchange for imagined security of regulation and strangulation. The thinkers, the creators, the doers, the free spirits fade out of the picture; those who remain label them deserters and traitors. But a few of them, under the leadership of the freest spirits, lay the groundwork for a new social order. Their philosophy has much that will shock the conventional; their oath — "...I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine" — seems to contain a negation of the code of humanity. There seems a warped sort of approach to a materialistic touchstone. The insistence on the godlike quality of the leader is never quite carried out in the characterization. In fact, for this reader, most of the characters are unconvincing, overdrawn to represent symbols rather than people. This- for me- was true of The Fountainhead some 14 years ago. Then, too, the machinery of the story was compelling, fascinating; the philosophic content had something faintly phoney; the characters were two dimensional.... Atlas Shrugged holds a terrifying immediacy, if one can envision today's prosperity holding the seeds of tomorrow's decadence. Except in the isolated cases of unrealized potentials of invention, she has tapped few of the now-evident clues to our immediate mechanical future. One finds it difficult to gauge the time span here. The market? Curiosity will be high pressured by the promotion and publicity:- an unheard of advance to the author; a tremendous advertising appropriation; a spirited bidding for subsidiary rights; a predicted advance sale of 60,000 copies out of an initial 75,000 printing... The sheer size of the book — about 1150 pages — is a magnet for an astounding number of readers.... The story is a challenging one; the manner of the telling holds reader interest, despite the unnecessary length; there's enough of sex to provide its mead of shockers; and there is the odd allure of fantasy, a sort of science fiction appeal. And one can count, too, on a goodly number who will discuss the social philosophy with heated arguments, pro and con — plus the intellectual snob appeal of those who like to feel they've plumbed a new code of ethics. It is not a book that leaves one unscathed. Read full book review >
THE FOUNTAINHEAD by Ayn Rand
Released: April 15, 1943

This is almost a first rate novel. It falls short, as do so many modern novels, in the apparent inability of the author (or editor) to be a ruthless surgeon. The story would have been faster paced, the characters more sharply limned, had whole episodes, repetitive and tautological, been eliminated; had long speeches been cut to hare bones. In spite of this excess of verbiage, the novel is a telling one — and original. Ayn Rand showed in the Living (Macmillan, 1936) an ability to handle groups of people and shifting impacts convincingly, with implicit drama. She has told this time the story of an idealistic young architect, who refused to compromise with popular taste or accepted practice, who starved in the process, but who finally won through to success, as the foremost modernist of his time. A stormy romance crashes across his path, fraught with danger and passion and disillusionment and triumph. Jealousies and hates and resentments cannot touch him, for architecture is his god; and the little spiteful people who thrust at him get punished in the rebound. Others get hurt, too, and Ayn Rand makes full use of a chance to blast the forces of conservatism, of reaction, of compromise. Unfortunately, she falls for the lure of the soapbox, unnecessarily, as her story would have done the trick for her. A contemporary novel. Read full book review >
Released: April 7, 1936

Is it fair to say that this is a novel of Soviet Russia that those who generally dislike novels of Soviet Russia will like? I confess, I approached it with the suspicion resulting from an overdose of "another rebirth of the Russian classics" school of literature. And I found it first rate — in its own right, without label or stigma. It draws no aura from the unreality of its setting — to our limited "bourgeois" experience — but the day by day round of life under the Soviet regime is simply handled as an objective fact, there to be met — or the reverse as the case may be. At its close, one feels a keener appreciation and understanding of what it means than a dozen leteers, waving the red flag, or trampling it in the dust, could give us. And the people seem real people. The author is a Russian the novel, extraordinarily enough, is written in limpid and vital English. One has no sense of an adopted language. Sell to those who want to know what life in Soviet Russia is like — to those who still believe in the rights of the individual to how out his own pattern. Read full book review >
NONFICTION

In these papers collected from her cultist Objectivist News-Letter, the white goddess of laissez-faire capitalism continues the fervent dialogue between herself and those minds most at ease in the 19th century. The super-capitalists of her novels suggest that the return to free enterprise she demands would be something like a gorilla house without bars. Miss Rand herself, while scoring points against the use of violence, the mixed economy of western countries and the communist-ruled regimes of the east, reminds us that nobody reads history as she does (for example, calling the Nazis a socialist movement, an absurd interpretation in the light of events; or tagging Nelson Rockefeller a wrecker of capitalism which is comparable to classifying Al Capone as a gangbuster). After her attack on the statism of current governments, her cry for a radical capitalism is that of a doctor who, having diagnosed the spreading cancer, now hopes for a return to the original tumor. Her followers, such as Nathaniel Branden and Robert Hessen who also contribute essays to this volume, will no doubt disagree. This is for the faithful only—those who flaunt dollar signs rather than sense. Read full book review >
NONFICTION

Ayn Rand has gathered around herself an extraordinarily loyal complement of admirers - one might almost say a "cult" has been built. For them - this anthology of selected excerpts from her previous writings will be something in the nature of a credo. An introductory essay attempts to capsule Miss Rand's philosophy. She postulates that the species of man known to his fellows as an "intellectual" is the twin brother of the Capitalist and that both were spawned by the Industrial Revolution. The intellectual, as she views him, has been a prodigal son and has failed in the role for which he was designed, - that is to give homage to both the Industrialist and to Capitalism itself. Instead, he is Peck's Bad Boy and has ridiculed and lambasted what is, in Miss Rand's view, the sole significant and creative fact of Western civilization. This is the stuff of controversy and the author spares no one in her broadsides. On the one side she lines up her foes: -philosophically everyone but the Greeks; politically, -Communists, Socialists, and all other inhabitants of the Left; artistically, the mainstream of American literature, which has failed to accept Miss Rand's version of the American Dream; and last but not least, all that calls itself religion. Having thus corrected history, Miss Rand leaves us with a solitary figure of the Industrialist, who is truly vibrant and dynamic through his creation of wealth and comfort. He is reinforced with an ethic which the author claims restores the dignity of the human being and a true scale of values. This philosophy is called Objectivism and its morality consists of "rational self-interest". One can hardly see this taken seriously by those whose ultimate concern is philosophy. Miss Rand is primarily a novelist and it is in this genre that she is safest - and presumably most popular. Read full book review >