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Letters of Ayn Rand (1995)

de Ayn Rand

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"These remarkable letters cover more than fifty-five years of Ayn Rand's extraordinary life, work, and thought. They begin in 1926, with a note from the twenty-year-old Ayn Rand newly arrived in Chicago from Soviet Russia, an impoverished unknown determined to realize the promise of a land of opportunity. They move through her struggles and successes as a screenwriter, a playwright, and a novelist, her sensational triumph as the author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and her eminence as founder and shaper of Objectivism, one of the most challenging and important philosophies of our time. They are written to such famed contemporaries as Cecil B. DeMille, Frank Lloyd Wright, H. L. Mencken, Alexander Kerensky, Barry Goldwater, and Mickey Spillane. There are letters to philosophers, priests, publishers, and political columnists; to her beloved husband, Frank O'Connor; to her intimate circle of friends and her growing legion of followers; and to the readers who sent her their questions about and appreciations of her work, and were rewarded with letters of wisdom, sympathy, and brilliance. Her letters range in tone from warm affection to icy fury, and in content from telling commentaries on the events of the day to unforgettably eloquent statements of her philosophical ideas."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved… (més)
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According to both Nathanial and Barbara Branden, these letters were published against Ayn Rand's wishes by her 'literary heir' and manager of her estate, Leonard Peikoff. Nonetheless - couldn't help myself.

The editor describes this as being only a small fraction of the whole, culled from less interesting examples. The vast majority is from the period 1945-1952 or so, when The Fountainhead was complete and Atlas Shrugged was just beginning. This portion contained a few revelations for me, including evidence that she was more knowledgeable in the history of philosophy than her critics suppose, and also more familiar with psychological theory (at one point, she critiques Freud in detail).

What's most fascinating to me are the more incidental letters: how she responds to family requesting money, her interest in cats, her correspondence with friends, etc. These are interspersed with letters that exactingly nitpick (in her usual style) every stray sentence or thought in the letters she is responding to, not letting the least irrationality slide past her uncommented upon. Frankly I would have found it exhausting to write to her, anticipating one of these replies.

The Letters are an interesting mix of what's found in her more formal writing and confirmation of her personality as described by her closest biographers. I'd recommend saving this as one of your last forays into her writing (as I did), so you can see it all come together in her own words. ( )
  Cecrow | Mar 8, 2010 |
Discover the "personal" Ayn Rand in this wondrous collection of her letters. Read what she wrote to an amazing array of people—from Barry Goldwater, Frank Lloyd Wright and Mickey Spillane, to Barbara Stanwyck, Robert Stack and Cecil B. DeMille. Whether she is writing to philosophers, artists, Hollywood celebrities, family members, captains of industry or her admiring fans, her unmistakable style and character are always in evidence.
  rob.sfo | Dec 5, 2006 |
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(Introduction by Leonard Peikoff): I was a student and friend of Ayn Rand's for thirty-one years, from 1951 -- when she was 46 and writing Atlas Shrugged -- until her death in 1982, at the age of 77.
(Preface by Michael S. Berliner): Answering a letter in 1943 from her friend, well-known political writer Isabel Paterson, Ayn Rand wrote: "I got a special thrill out of your letter -- all my life, reading the published correspondence of famous people, I have envied them because they received personal letters on important and abstract subjects, I mean from friends, not just professional correspondence."
Hello [written in English] Lylolya,
There was a time when I loved that American expression of yours [referring to "hello"], and now I am using it myself, because they don't have any other expression here.
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"These remarkable letters cover more than fifty-five years of Ayn Rand's extraordinary life, work, and thought. They begin in 1926, with a note from the twenty-year-old Ayn Rand newly arrived in Chicago from Soviet Russia, an impoverished unknown determined to realize the promise of a land of opportunity. They move through her struggles and successes as a screenwriter, a playwright, and a novelist, her sensational triumph as the author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and her eminence as founder and shaper of Objectivism, one of the most challenging and important philosophies of our time. They are written to such famed contemporaries as Cecil B. DeMille, Frank Lloyd Wright, H. L. Mencken, Alexander Kerensky, Barry Goldwater, and Mickey Spillane. There are letters to philosophers, priests, publishers, and political columnists; to her beloved husband, Frank O'Connor; to her intimate circle of friends and her growing legion of followers; and to the readers who sent her their questions about and appreciations of her work, and were rewarded with letters of wisdom, sympathy, and brilliance. Her letters range in tone from warm affection to icy fury, and in content from telling commentaries on the events of the day to unforgettably eloquent statements of her philosophical ideas."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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