Thursday, February 04, 2016

Rand's Novels 2 - Anthem

Anthem is a dystopian novella written in 1937. It is unique in Rand's ouvre in a number of ways. It is largely plotless (as Rand herself admitted) and it's much shorter than her other published fiction. It's more a parable than a story, and while it lacks the portentousness of her last novels, honestly, it's little more than a trifle. It's a short piece of fiction which has its basis, initially, in Rand's experiences during the early years of Soviet Russia. In Anthem, Rand took some of the high moral rhetoric that was used to defend communism in Russia and took these scraps of incoherent sentimentality to its logical extreme.

Saturday, January 09, 2016

Objectivist Roundup - January

Neil Parille rounds up some recent Objectivist news from around the interwebs: 
• There are forty-nine countries where Muslims are in the majority and Craig Biddle can’t wait to nuke ‘em all.
• You’re 50 years young Objectivism – and it’s time for a reboot.
• The Gotthelf and Salmieri Companion to Ayn Rand is out.  I have a preliminary review.
• The increasingly ARI-dominated Ayn Rand Society has a new blog, Check Your Premises (not to be confused with the anti-Diana Hsieh web site).
• This is a little older, but former Ayn Rand associates Allan Blumenthal and Joan Mitchell Blumenthal self-published some books in 2013.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Rand's Novels 1: We the Living

Of all of Ayn Rand's published fiction — and, indeed, of nearly all her writing, published or otherwise — We the Living is the easiest for the non-Objectivist to appreciate. Most of her chief faults as a novelist are absent from the book. The characters and situations of novel are more or less real, (and all the more vivid and powerful for being so). The prose is largely straightforward, direct, unadorned. It may be the best Russian novel written in English. I wish Rand had written more novels like We the Living. But, alas, that was not to be.

Oddly enough, We the Living was the most reviewed of any of Rand's books, receiving more positive than negative notices. H. L. Mencken, who, in the twenties, had been one of the leading literary critics in America, described Rand's first novel as "a really excellent piece of work." The novel, however, struggled to gain an audience in the 1930's, and Rand's publisher, Macmillan, destroyed the plates after a modest print run of 3,000 copies. In 1959, Rand issued a second, revised edition of the work. Rand insisted that "all the changes [she made] are merely editorial line changes." This view has been challenged. It seems that Rand indulged in a little more than mere line changes, that she sought to edit her former self in order to conceal some of the views she had flirted with in her youth.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

A Brief Post on Haylock's "Contra Rand"

During the last year and a half, I have been preoccupied in writing a comic novel, Normal Madness, and did not have the time to post here at ARCHNBlog. Now that I have finished the novel, I can resume, at least for the nonce, posting here. And we do have some unfinished business to take care of. To begin with, there's Rand's novels. We've had some discussions about Atlas Shrugged (in relation to the horrible movies and to Chamber's review), but we've never really discussed We the Living or The Fountainhead. I also would like to provide a series of posts providing a summary of the main points against Rand's Objectivist philosophy that I've made in more detail in earlier posts.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Objectivist Roundup November

Neil Parille heads 'em out and rounds 'em up:

Sean Haylock in Crisis Magazine has an interesting essay, Contra Rand
Isaac Lewis reviews Leonard Peikoff’s The DIM Hypothesis
The long-awaited Salmieri and Gotthelef,  A Companion to Ayn Rand will be out in January.  You can read an excerpt here.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Philosophy In Action Becomes Inactive.

Diana Brickell (Hsieh) has announced her intention "to withdraw from the very public online life that I’ve lead for so many years" and is mothballing her Philosophy In Action site, where she was developing a kind of Ayn Rand Agony Aunt service.

Brickell (Hsieh) has been a human weathervane for the various political currents blowing through Objectivism over the years,her position fluctuating wildly between apparatchik orthodoxy and so called "open" Objectivism. Perhaps this is another signal that the movement is, as it has appeared to be for the past few years, in the doldrums.