December 18, 2017
Ayn Rand ReduxOn this day in 1982 Ayn Rand died, at the age of seventy-seven. Whatever might be said about Rand's controversial philosophy, difficult personality and long books, her life-story is a remarkable one. In 1926, twenty-one-year-old Alice Rosenbaum fled Communist Russia for Hollywood America, determined to be a writer. She arrived there six months later as Ayn Rand -- Ayn for the nice sound (rhymes with "mine," one biographer says without irony), Rand for the Remington Rand typewriter she brought with her. On her second day, she got a lift and a job from Cecil B. DeMille; in her first week, she met the man to whom she would be married for fifty years. Before long she had given up screenwriting for other kinds: The Fountainhead (1943), Atlas Shrugged (1957), nine books on her Objectivist beliefs, and more. By newsletter, talk show, Institute and disciple, she became the champion of egoism and laissez-faire capitalism, beloved by those who like the self-made, freely-chosen, squarely-told view of things:
Paul Erdman and Louis Rukeyser were there. Alan Greenspan was one of Rand's followers, and there at her funeral to see the six-foot flower arrangement in the shape of a dollar sign. A recent book about Greenspan by Jerome Tuccille is titled Alan Shrugged. As USA Today recently reported, Atlas Shrugged and the attendant websites have been receiving increased attention from business executives looking for comfort in a cold, post-Enron world.
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