What motivates a creative thinker?
Is it a selfless desire to benefit mankind? A hunger for fame, fortune, and accolades? The need to prove superiority? Or is it a self-sufficient drive to pursue a creative vision, independent of others’ needs or opinions?
Ayn Rand addresses these questions through her portrayal of Howard Roark, an innovative architect who, as she puts it, “struggles for the integrity of his creative work against every form of social opposition.”
Initially rejected by twelve publishers as “too intellectual,” The Fountainheadbecame a best seller within two years purely through word of mouth, and earned Rand enduring commercial and artistic success.
The novel was also a personal landmark for Rand. In Howard Roark, she presented for the first time the uniquely Ayn Rand hero, whose depiction was the chief goal of her writing: the ideal man, man as “he could be and ought to be.”
With The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand achieved enduring commercial, artistic, and intellectual success. Initially rejected by a dozen publishers, The Fountainhead became a bestseller within two years purely through word of mouth; today, there are over six million copies in print. The novel was also an artistic landmark for Rand; in the character of Howard Roark, she presented for the first time the uniquely Ayn Rand hero, whose depiction was the chief goal of her writing: the ideal man, man as “he could be and ought to be.” The novel’s dramatization of its original theme—in Rand’s words “individualism versus collectivism, not in politics, but in man’s soul”—earned Rand a lasting reputation as one of history’s greatest champions of individualism.
Ayn Rand (born Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum, February 2, 1905 – March 6, 1982) was a Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter. She is known for her two best-selling novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged and for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism.
Born and educated in Russia, Rand moved to the United States in 1926. She worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood and had a play produced on Broadway in 1935–1936. After two initially unsuccessful early novels, she achieved fame with her 1943 novel The Fountainhead. In 1957, she published her best-known work, the philosophical novel Atlas Shrugged. Afterward she turned to nonfiction to promote her philosophy, publishing her own magazines and releasing several collections of essays until her death in 1982.
Rand advocated reason as the only means of acquiring knowledge and rejected all forms of faith and religion. She supported rational egoism and rejected ethical altruism. In politics, she condemned the initiation of force as immoral and opposed all forms of collectivism and statism, instead supporting laissez-faire capitalism, which she believed was the only social system that protected individual rights. She promoted romantic realism in art. She was sharply critical of most other philosophers and philosophical traditions.
The reception for Rand's fiction from literary critics has historically been mixed and polarizing, with extreme opinions both for and against her work commonly being expressed. Nonetheless, she continues to have a popular following, as well as a growing influence among scholars and academics. Rand's political ideas have been influential among libertarians and conservatives. The Objectivist movement attempts to spread her ideas, both to the public and in academic settings.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Rand developed and promoted her Objectivist philosophy through her nonfiction works and by giving talks to students at institutions such as Yale University, Princeton University, Columbia University, Harvard University and MIT. She received an honorary doctorate from Lewis & Clark College in 1963. She also began delivering annual lectures at the Ford Hall Forum, responding afterward to questions from the audience. During these speeches and Q&A sessions, she often took controversial stances on political and social issues of the day. These included supporting abortion rights, opposing the Vietnam War and the military draft (but condemning many draft dodgers as "bums"), supporting Israel in the Arab-Israeli War of 1973 as "civilized men fighting savages", saying European colonists had the right to take land from American Indians, and calling homosexuality "immoral" and "disgusting", while also advocating the repeal of all laws against it. She also endorsed several Republican candidates for President of the United States, most strongly Barry Goldwater in 1964, whose candidacy she promoted in several articles for The Objectivist Newsletter.
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