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Revisiting Ayn Rand

Person-reading-Atlas-Shrugged-by-Ayn-RandLast summer, I cleaned out a bookcase at home and came across a paperback copy of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand from my early college days.  It has followed me from my dorm room in the 60’s, to my parent’s home, and thru 2 moves in my married years.   During the busy years of raising children and working, it sat forgotten on the shelf.  What made it special was that it was personally autographed by Ayn Rand when I attended one of her lectures while in college.  I don’t remember what the lecture was about nor do I remember meeting her.   I wish I did.  She was a very vocal and controversial political activist during the turbulent 60’s and her book, Atlas Shrugged, was as controversial as she was.   The chance to see and hear her speak in person would have been a must.

Ayn Rand was born in Russia in 1905 and suffered very negative effects of life under communistic rule until she received permission to visit relatives in Chicago in 1925.   She vowed never to return to Russia and continued to live and work in Hollywood.  I believe Ms. Rand was afraid that communism would follow her to America, and she used her writings and lectures to warn of its dangers.  America in the 60’s was in turmoil; we were in the midst of the unpopular Vietnam War.  In fact, one of reasons they told us we needed to go to war was to fight communism.

I decided to read or reread Atlas Shrugged.  A few pages into it, I was sure that I either had not read it previously or certainly had not gotten very far into the 1,000+ pages.

It is a fictional novel that reflects Rand’s philosophy, Objectivism, but it is also a mystery of sorts.  The reader is compelled to plow thru the 1,000+ pages to find out who John Galt really is.

Her major characters embody the traits of her philosophy and are in conflict with the world they live in.   The principle of Ms. Rand’s Objectivism is multifaceted and complex.  In her own words,  “My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.”

A comprehensive and detailed book about Ayn Rand, her life, her works and her philosophy is Ayn Rand and the World She Made by Anne C. Heller.   It’s a must read for anyone interested in learning more about Ms. Rand.

I am sure that if Ms. Rand were alive today in this tumultuous political climate, she would again be a vocal and very controversial voice.   In the meantime, her novels live on and speak for her. I’m glad I found, dusted off the pages, and read Atlas Shrugged.  It was thought provoking, challenging and entertaining all at the same time.

Norma Logan is a Literacy Volunteer Coordinator at the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood.

Lydia Sampson

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