Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Save to My Library
Look up keyword or section
Like this
2Activity
0 of .
Results for:
No results containing your search query
P. 1
The Literary Method of Ayn Rand

The Literary Method of Ayn Rand

Ratings: (0)|Views: 441 |Likes:
Published by Sherrie G
This essay, by best-selling self-help author Nathaniel Branden, was published in 2005 in a book entitled "The Literary Art of Ayn Rand" (The Atlas Society). It was first published in 1962 in "Who is Ayn Rand?" Branden originally composed “The Literary Method of Ayn Rand” while working under Rand’s close editorial supervision, and the essay itself includes an extended passage by Rand analyzing her own work. It thus continues to stand both as an appreciation of the artist by one of her foremost admirers, and as a piece that, to a substantial degree, reflects and communicates Ayn Rand’s own view of her methods and her place in the history of literature.
This essay, by best-selling self-help author Nathaniel Branden, was published in 2005 in a book entitled "The Literary Art of Ayn Rand" (The Atlas Society). It was first published in 1962 in "Who is Ayn Rand?" Branden originally composed “The Literary Method of Ayn Rand” while working under Rand’s close editorial supervision, and the essay itself includes an extended passage by Rand analyzing her own work. It thus continues to stand both as an appreciation of the artist by one of her foremost admirers, and as a piece that, to a substantial degree, reflects and communicates Ayn Rand’s own view of her methods and her place in the history of literature.

More info:

Published by: Sherrie G on May 21, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

05/22/2013

pdf

text

original

 
The Literary Method of Ayn Rand
1
 Nathaniel Branden
1. Introduction
“I decided to be a writer,” states Ayn Rand in her letter “To the Readers of 
The Fountainhead,”
at the age of nine—it was a specific, conscious decision—I remem-ber the day and the hour. I did not start by trying to describe the folksnext door—but by inventing people who did things the folks nextdoor would never do. I could summon no interest or enthusiasm for“people as they are”—when I had in my mind a blinding picture of people as they could be.I decided to become a writer—not in order to save the world,nor to serve my fellow men—but for the simple, personal, selfish,egotistical happiness of creating the kind of men and events I couldlike, respect and admire. I can bear to look around me levelly. Icannot bear to look down. I wanted to look up.This attitude has never changed. But I went for years think-ing that it was a strictly personal attitude toward fiction writing, neverto be discussed and of no interest to anyone but me. Later, I discov-ered I had accepted as the rule of my lifework a principle stated byAristotle. Aristotle said that fiction is of greater philosophical impor-tance than history, because history represents things only as theyare, while fiction represents them “as they might be and ought tobe.” If you wish a key to the literary method of [my novels], this isit.
2
Scholars have challenged the accuracy of Rand’s interpretation of Aristotle on this point, but that is irrelevant to the basic position she is advanc-ing. The projection of “things as they might be and ought to be” names theessence of her concept of literature. In the wave of Naturalism that engulfed
 
76 
The Literary Art of Ayn Rand 
so much of the literature of the twentieth century, her novels are an outstand-ing exception. They are at once a continuation of the Romantic tradition and asignificant departure from the mainstream of that tradition: she is a
 Romantic Realist 
. “Romantic”—because her work is concerned with
values
, with theessential, the abstract, the universal in human life, and with the projection of man as a heroic being. “Realist”—because the values she selects pertain tothis earth and to man’s actual nature, and because the issues with which shedeals are the crucial and fundamental ones of our age. Her novels do notrepresent a flight into mystical fantasy or into the historical past or into con-cerns that have little if any bearing on man’s actual existence. Her heroes arenot knights, gladiators or adventurers in some impossible kingdom, but engi-neers, scientists, industrialists, men who belong on earth, men who function inmodern society.“Things as they might be” is the principle of Realism: it means thatfiction must stay within the bounds of reality, and not indulge in fantasiesconcerning the logically or metaphysically impossible. “Things as they oughtto be” is the principle of Romanticism: it means things objectively possible andproper to man, things which he
can
and
ought 
to choose.
3
As a philosopher,Rand has brought ethics into the context of reason, reality, and man’s life onearth; as a novelist, she has brought the dramatic, the exciting, the heroic, andthe stylized into the same context.Just as in philosophy she rejects every version of the soul-body di-chotomy: theory versus practice, thought versus action, morality versus hap-piness—so in literature she rejects the expression of this same dichotomy: thebelief that a profound novel cannot be entertaining, and that an entertainingnovel cannot be profound, that a serious, philosophical novel cannot have adramatic plot, and that a dramatic plot-novel cannot possibly be serious orphilosophical.
 Atlas Shrugged 
is an action story on a grand scale, but it is a con-sciously philosophical action story, just as its heroes are consciously philo-sophical men of action. To those who subscribe to the soul-body dichotomy inliterature,
 Atlas Shrugged 
is an anomaly that defies classification by conven-tional standards. It moves effortlessly and ingeniously from economics to epis-temology to morality to metaphysics to psychology to the theory of sex, on theone hand—and, on the other, it has a chapter that ends with the heroine hur-tling toward the earth in an airplane with a dead motor, it has a playboy cru-sader who blows up a multi-billion dollar industry, a philosopher-turned-piratewho attacks government relief ships, and a climax that involves the rescue of the hero from a torture chamber. Notwithstanding the austere solemnity of itsabstract theme, her novel—as a work of art—projects the laughing, extrava-gantly imaginative virtuosity of a mind who has never heard that “one is notsupposed” to combine such elements as these in a single book. To those who
 
77 
The Literary Method of Ayn Rand 
believe that “one is not supposed to,” Rand would answer: “Check your pre-mises.”Rand wrote four novels—
We the Living, Anthem, The Fountain-head, Atlas Shrugged 
—and each of them has a major philosophical theme.
4
Yet they are not “propaganda novels.” As she has emphasized, the primarypurpose for which these books were written was not the philosophical con-version of their readers. The primary purpose was to project and make realthe characters who are the books’ heroes.
This
is the motive that unites theartist and the moralist. The desire to project the ideal man led her to writenovels. The necessity of defining the premise that makes an ideal man pos-sible led her to formulate the philosophical context of those novels. “I had to[originate a philosophical framework of my own] because my basic view of man and existence was in conflict with most of the existing philosophicaltheories,” she writes in her Preface to
For the New Intellectual
. “In order todefine, explain and present my concept of man, I had to become a philosopherin the specific meaning of the term.”
5
What then is the base of Rand the artistand Rand the philosopher? Rand, the worshipper and glorifier of man, in themost profound, metaphysical sense.
2. Romantic Realism
In a lecture on esthetics at the 1961 Creative Arts Festival of the Universityof Michigan, Rand defined her concept of art as follows:Art is a re-creation of reality according to the artist’s values. It is nota creation out of a void, but a
re-creation
, a selective rearrangementof the elements of reality, guided by the artist’s view of existence.That view determines the subject he chooses to present and everydetail of the manner in which he presents it; it determines both the
what’
and the ‘
how’
of his work. An artist declares his metaphysi-cal estimates by means of that which he chooses to include or toomit, to emphasize or to ignore—by means of the subject he selects,of the particular aspect he stresses, of the specific attributes he fea-tures. One can make a statue of man as a Greek god or as a de-formed Oriental monstrosity; both are metaphysical estimates of man.One can paint a still life of some fruit and flowers in a manner thatwill convey a benevolent, glowing, sunlit sense of life; one can paintthe same fruit and flowers in a manner that will project decay, cor-ruption and a sense of murky doom. An artist may or may not chooseto include some explicit philosophical message in his work; that choiceis optional. The real, basic, essential message, which every artwork 

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->