Ayn Rand

Rand, Ayn (Īn) [key], 1905–82, American writer, b. St. Petersburg, Russia, as Alissa Rosenbaum. She came to the United States in 1926, became a citizen five years later, and worked for many years as a Hollywood screenwriter. Her novels are romantic, dramatic, and often didactic, espousing a philosophy built on a muscular capitalism, aggressive individualism, and a rational self-interest that opposes the collective nature of the modern welfare state and totalitarian societies. These principles are rather woodenly embodied in the plots, heroes, and villains of her major novels, The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957). In For the New Intellectual (1961) she summarized her philosophy, which she called "objectivism"; it posits a concrete external reality, idea-driven emotions, and self-interest as ethical ideal. Her works have had a notable influence on many of America's political and economic conservatives.

See the memoir by N. Branden (1989); biographies by B. Branden (1987), J. Burns (2009), and A. C. Heller (2009); study by J. T. Baker (1987); her letters, ed. by M. S. Berliner (1995), and her journals, ed. by D. Harriman (1997).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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