Ayn Rand (Overlook Illustrated Lives Series)

Ayn Rand (Overlook Illustrated Lives Series)

by Jeffrey Britting, Jeff Britting
     
 
Ayn Rand made a profound impact as both a philosopher who founded a school of social thought, Objectivism, and as a novelist of penetrating insight and vision. Her works are founded on heroic ideals, demonstrating the maxim that, “man's ego is the fountainhead of human progress.”

The photos and illustrations in this volume have been hand-selected from

Overview

Ayn Rand made a profound impact as both a philosopher who founded a school of social thought, Objectivism, and as a novelist of penetrating insight and vision. Her works are founded on heroic ideals, demonstrating the maxim that, “man's ego is the fountainhead of human progress.”

The photos and illustrations in this volume have been hand-selected from the Ayn Rand Archives, and most have never been published. They include personal mementos of a Petersburg childhood, her family and their home on Nevsky Prospect; photos from her early years in America; personal papers, including her list of the twelve publishers who passed on The Fountainhead; original newspaper articles, film posters, notes, drawings, and much more.

In a recent poll conducted by the Library of Congress and the Book-of-the-Month Club, Rand's Atlas Shrugged was voted the novel most influential to American readers. This latest volume of the acclaimed Overlook Illustrated Lives series gives her legions of fans an unprecedented chance to better understand the author they adore.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In this concise but telling account, Britting ably captures both personal and literary development of one of the most popular Russian American novelists of the 20th century. As an archivist at the Ayn Rand Institute, Britting had access to previously unavailable items to write this only authorized biography of the provocative novelist. A precocious young woman whose views were antithetical to those of Leninist Russia, Rand emigrated to America in 1926 at the age of 21. Her unremitting "exaltation of the individual mind" and of egoism and her fascination with heroism were the focal point of her literary pursuits. As Britting explains, she tirelessly praised capitalism, laissez-faire economy, and the ideal of life-affirming, tall, svelte man-the ideal embodied in the protagonists of her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged. The critical reception of her writings prompted Rand to turn to nonfiction and expound her philosophy of "objectivism," regarded by many as simplistic. Rand admirers will welcome this book because it focuses on close affinities between Rand's personal experiences and her literary achievements. Others, however, are unlikely to summon an interest in Rand after reading this little book, which lacks scholarly analysis. Recommended for public libraries. [This book is being published to coincide with the centennial of Rand's birth in February 2005.-Ed.]-Edin Hadzic, New York Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-Part of an excellent series, this biography of the vocal proponent of individualism and capitalism, and a cult favorite, is chock-full of photos and drawings. Written by an archivist of the Ayn Rand Institute and an award-winning documentary filmmaker, it is short on text but contains the vital information and a well-distilled sense of Rand's sensibilities. Tracing her belief in the supremacy of capitalism from her formative years in Soviet Russia, through her various stints as a Hollywood screenwriter, to her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged, Britting describes his subject's early influences and developing philosophy. While there is not a great deal of time spent on Rand the woman, or her more scandalous endeavors, readers come away with an introductory understanding of her influences and her continuing impact as well as her dogged pursuit and promulgation of her ideals. Containing 50 color and 70 black-and-white illustrations of people, posters, notes, and book jackets, as well as a useful index and thorough notes, this is a quick and useful primer on Rand and superb starting point for more in-depth reports or background reading.-Susan H. Woodcock, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A glancing-and incomplete-biography of the novelist, borscht-barrel philosopher, and egotist. Documentary filmmaker Britting places due emphasis on Ayn Rand's life in Hollywood, a life to which she had long aspired but discounted as she became a renowned author; some of the still photographs of Rand (1905-82) as an acting student and budding screenwriter alone are worth the price of the book, a volume in the well-made Overlook Illustrated Lives series. Moreover, Britting does a good job of recounting Rand's adolescence and early adulthood in the nascent Soviet Union, where she was lucky to avoid punishment for her anticommunist views and bourgeois background. Even as a young girl, Rand cultivated the arch disdain for which she would become known; convinced that "real life and real intelligence and real people" lay far outside the "accidental cesspool of civilization" that was, in her view, Russia, she got out as soon as she could, talked her way into a job with Cecil B. De Mille, and was soon concocting stories and scenarios involving brave loners battling evil empires. Britting, an acolyte of Rand's, is uncritical of his subject, whose cultlike circle of anticommunist intellectuals, ironically called "the Collective," included fed chairman Alan Greenspan; he glosses over some of the more sensational aspects of Rand's life, including a later much-publicized (thanks to Barbara Branden's 1986 memoir, The Passion of Ayn Rand) romance with another adept, the psychologist Nathaniel Branden. Admiring and semiofficial though it is, however, Britting's life gives readers cause to nod admiringly at Rand at least here and there; she was convinced of her brilliance, to be sure, and prickly withthose who were not similarly convinced, but she also fought for every cent she made and worked hard at her craft. A useful primer for readers wanting to understand Rand's influence (today largely confined to conservative undergraduates).

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781585674060
Publisher:
Overlook
Publication date:
01/26/2004
Series:
Overlook Illustrated Lives Series
Pages:
144
Product dimensions:
5.14(w) x 7.40(h) x 0.61(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Meet the Author

Jeffery Britting was associate producer of the documentary film Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life, which was nominated for an Academy Award for best documentary. Since 1993, he has been archivist at the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, California.

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