JOURNALS OF AYN RAND by David Harriman

JOURNALS OF AYN RAND

edited by
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Both those inspired and those irritated by Rand's radical individualism will find support for their response in her journals. Sympathetic readers will enjoy sketches of unfinished projects, philosophical fragments, essays and testimony about communists in Hollywood, and extensive notes for her two major novels. Harriman's (Philosophy/Claremont Graduate School) sycophantic but helpful comments guide the reader through the unpublished material of an unwavering proponent of individualism and capitalism who is not afraid to condemn altruism or dismiss democratic authority with scorn. Indeed, the ease with which she labels most people ``parasites'' suggests that Rand was born too soon: Her self-confident dismissals of all who disagree would have made her a phenom on Crossfire or talk radio. Others will be struck by what is absent here: For Rand there are no open questions. She explicitly started ``with a set of ideas'' and then studied ``to support them.'' An instinctual antipathy to collectivism born of a childhood spent under communist rule established the substance of the writer's worldview, and her subsequent intellectual activity involved communicating convictions rather than exploring them. Fiction provided an outlet for this ideological single-mindedness, allowing her version of reality to be presented through fantasy worlds shorn of anything inconsistent with her beliefs. To demonstrate how individualism and collectivism work ``in real life'' and acceptance of a flawed concept such as charity results when we depart ``from facts,'' Rand wrote novels representing, she said, ``the kind of world I want.'' Even when recognizing that her idealization of the defendant in an actual criminal trial was probably inaccurate, she claimed that it ``does not make any difference,'' for even if he was not as she perceived him, ``he could be, and that's enough.'' This volume reveals not only how strong conclusions can flow from trumping fact with fiction, but also why Rand seemed to be living on another planet.

Pub Date: Sept. 15th, 1997
ISBN: 0-525-94370-6
Page count: 752pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1997