What's your favorite work by Ayn Rand and why?

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What's your favorite work by Ayn Rand and why?

  • Laurie Rice

    Just to start off light, it’s always fun to find out peoples’ favorite works by Ayn Rand. I love Atlas Shrugged, of course, because it’s Objectivism in full flower. I also love We The Living, for the scrappy independence of Kira Argounova and because the existential, snowy Russian setting is similar to my hometown Wisconsin winters. For non-fiction, I love Rand’s essay about Apollo 11 because of its historical moment, how moved she was by the achievement, and because it’s some of her best descriptive writing. I also love Rand’s essay about Marilyn Monroe, for its compassion and insight about femininity.

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    • Zain D

      Having only read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged I can safely say that I much preferred the former. I had a hard time putting down the Fountainhead but seeing as how I needed to eat and sleep (occasionally) I didn’t have a choice.

      Atlas Shrugged, on the other hand, I found an extremely plodding and over-wrought. John Galt lacked some of the humanity that made Howard Roark relateable and Toohey was by far a more entertaining antagonist than James Taggart and his cronies.

      I recommend that people simply skip to John Galt’s 60+ page tirade towards the end if they want to get the gist of book. Objectivist gold without the unnecessary narrative.

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        Laurie Rice

        Ellsworth Toohey is the best villain. 🙂

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      Daniel Davis

      70+ you mean lol.

       

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      Roger Browne

      John Galt’s speech is about 300 pages on my phone!

      I read Atlas Shrugged about once a decade. The second time I read it, I skipped the speech. But last time, I read it again. It’s actually very lucidly written.

      But my favorite book is The Fountainhead. I know people who are like almost all of the characters in that book.

      My favorite character is definitely Kira Argunova from We The Living. And one of my daughters is named Kira.

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      Daniel Davis

      That speech was tough to get through at times lol.

       

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      Matt Pritchard

      I definitely prefer The Fountainhead to Atlas, but I have to say that i think Rand’s non fiction is vastly underrated.  “The Romantic Manifesto” is a wonderful collection of essays on Objectivist aesthetics that I think everyone should read.

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      David Montgomery

      Anthem.  Short and sweet.

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        Geoffrey Allan Plauché

        I’m with you, David. Of Rand’s fiction, my favorite is Anthem. It’s short, sweet, more poetic. Rereading the others can be a bit of a slog.

        Of Rand’s nonfiction, I suppose The Virtue of Selfishness. Or Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology; I had dreams of axiomatic concepts and ostensive definitions after reading that for the first time.

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      Andrew David

      I know a lot of people who don’t like AS. At the same time, I think many of the reasons are quite embarassing. AS is not your typical fiction, certainly not plotless like much of what is studied in literature classes today. There is a rarely achieved philosophical discussion going on between the lines, and for many this goes undetected; it is therefore no surprise they see the book as boring and its characters two dimensional. In addition, AS is not esteemed as ‘academically worth of study’ as, say, James Joyce, and so it is not taken as seriously and it does not retain a false sense of ‘greatness’ like other works. Because of this, it fails to fuel discipline, ie. putting some effort into extracting meaning from its text. Most read it as they would any other modern fiction, skimming overtop and missing 99% of what is important.

      After saying all that though, my favourite is the Fountainhead. It focuses on what is most important to me, the sanctity of the individual against the collective, self-esteem. Another great work on this theme is Ibsen’s play An Enemy of the People.

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      P_Fritz

      I think the seething resentment of Ayn Rand is something that has grown especially vitriolic over the last few years. Most of the anti-Rand crowd aren’t even really familiar with her work, they just mechanically start responding with expletives when they hear the name.  I remember when I was in High School circa 1984 a girl I knew telling me about Rand’s philosophy being about freedom and individualism, nothing particularly political, and as a young punk this appealed to me.

      The first book I read then was Anthem, and the concept of “I” and egoism was a profound influence, and complimented other influences of the time for me like George Orwell and Jack London.

      But all that being said, The Fountainhead is probably my favorite and one reason is that this work more successfully integrates the broad range of Randian themes, from artistic integrity, to capitalism, egoism,  responsibility, architecture, greek philosophy, sex and the principles of attraction, alignment of values, and so on. As an occasional artist myself (musician) I can say the question of originality and artistic integrity that runs throughout the book is a huge question that most artists tend to struggle with (should I emulate what’s popular in order to be popular? Or should I follow my heart and be original and risk obscurity?) I think for this reason FH is a good book to recommend to folks with artistic inclinations.

      FH also manages to avoid some of the ‘preachiness’ that seems to come from other works like AS and especially the non-fiction works. If you compare Galt’s long-winded sermon to Howard Roarks courtroom speech (“Thousands of years ago, the first man discovered how to make fire…”) it is more inspirational and more evolutionary. A lot of it centers around the creative process, how by transforming ordinary matter into useful or beautiful things, man actually performs the functions that were once attributed only to gods.

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      Jorge Trucco

      Atlas Shrugged!
      It was the first Rand book I read. It blew my mind. It gave a moral foundation to all the things I intuitively thought but was not able to formulate. Then I read the rest of Ayn Rand’s books and I loved The Fountainhead, We The Living, The Virtue of Selfishness, etc. But they didn’t make the same impact Atlas Shrugged did. Once I read Atlas Shrugged I was a different person, my life was no longer the same.

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      PG (Pierre-Guy) Veer

      Fiction (although…): Atlas Shrugged. Despite its length, it’s one of the best books I’ve read. It’s even more prophetic than 1984: entrepreneurs being punished for their sucess, lobbyists ruling Washington, regulation chocking the economy…

       

      Non-fiction: Capitalism, the Unknown Ideal. I love referring back to this book when I defend the only system that has lifted billions out of abject poverty.

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      Rodger Paxton

      The Fountainhead all the way!

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      Michael Bunch

      I’d go with Fountainhead. Atlas Shrugged is a great read and is more about the macro-level effects of Leftist thought, but I resonate more with the micro-level story of an individual like Roark.

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      Frank Marcopolos

      Anthem for me. Short, sweet, and no massive speeches included.

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        Rodger Paxton

        Anthem is a great one for sure. Very concise, yet powerful. That was the book I used to introduce my wife to Ayn Rand.

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        PG (Pierre-Guy) Veer

        I agree that it was a good book. SHort, easy to understand and told as a fairy tale.

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      Jeremiah Harding

      Virtue of Selfishness has my favorite Rand work in it. As a collection of essays, each chapter can be taken separately. If I were to say what my favorite work is, it is “The Cult of Moral Grayness”. Lines like these take the cake:

      Observe, in politics, that the term extremism has become a synonym of “evil,” regardless of the content of the issue  (the evil is not what you are extreme about, but that you are “extreme” — i.e., consistent).  Observe the phenomenon of the so-called neutralists in the United Nations: the “neutralists” are worse than merely neutral  in the conflict between the United States and Soviet Russia;  hey are committed, on principle, to see no difference between the two sides, never to consider the merits of an issue, and always to seek a compromise, any compromise in any conflict…

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      Cameron T. Belt

      Fiction: Atlas shrugged, it popped my Objectivist cherry so for that I’m grateful.

      Non-Fiction: Id have to say Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, that is a really foundational and it opened my eyes to how powerful philosophy can be in our understanding of the world.

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