|Rand's big four.|
But the manipulation of language is not Rand’s province and it is not her purpose, so to roast Rand for being a just a “good” writer and not some reinventor of language is to severely underestimate her influence. It's probably unfortunate that she’s not a literary savant, but there are lots of literary savants who write beautifully and never say anything worth saying. No one can deny that Rand, for better or worse, has a point to make. And I think that carves a place for her in the canon.
Rand is also criticized for the (sometimes violent, irresponsible, insanity-inducing) romances in her books. What does The Fountainhead rape scene say about women, and what does the extramarital affair between Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden in Atlas Shrugged say about Rand's morals? I think it's beside the point. What Rand did was combine her serious political treatise with the sassy, saucy elements of paperback novel. Does that dilute her political purpose, or make it less legitimate? I’m not sure. But I do know it makes her books easier to read, jucier, more fun. And with thousands of pages to get through, its not unwise to toss your readers a sex scene to keep them plowing through.
|You think Sawyer was in it for the "Objectivism?"|
|Rand: warm and fuzzy.|
Importantly, the dichotomy Rand draws was never between the rich and the poor; this is a common misconception perpetuated by reliance on sound bites and stereotypes of Rand's work. Most of Rand's heroes are either poor, or started out that way; it's her villains who are the entitled upper class. Instead, the line Rand draws is between the working and the idle, the principled and the unprincipled. Her heroes are extremely ethical, but they adhere to their own, internal sense of ethics – they are unwavering in their tenacity and their stubbornness and their insistence on doing only that which they can stand by proudly. And her point, I think, is that you can be deeply moral and deeply ethical and deeply responsible and do it for yourself and your own pride and self-worth and not for anybody else's gratitude. Rand famously decries altruism, which is largely responsible for her misjudged reputation. But she doesn’t hate altruism because she thinks you should be a jerkwad to other people; she just thinks you should be a good person for yourself -- because it's the right thing to do, because you can be proud of it -- not for someone else’s sake.
|The truly terrible film version of The Fountainhead|
The more I read about Rand on the internet, the less I understand how everyone misses that part. Much more than swearing “I’ll never give you anything,” Roark is swearing “I’ll never ask you for anything that I haven’t earned." How can Rand's critics focus only on the “won’t give” and not on the “haven’t earned” part? Rand’s world promises you everything if you're just willing to try, to strive, to put in the effort; yet some people revile her because her world doesn't give them anything for free. So, to the people who say Rand is selfish, she would say, you are lazy. You could have all the world if you worked for it.