“I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.”
These beautiful lines mirror the thoughts of our today’s author.
Ayn Rand was born as Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum on February 2, 1905, to a Russian Jewish bourgeois family living in Saint Petersburg. She was the eldest of the three daughters of Zinovy Zakharovich Rosenbaum and his wife, Anna Borisovna, largely non-observant Jews. Zinovy Rosenbaum was a successful pharmacist and businessman, eventually owning a pharmacy and the building in which it was located.
The subsequent Russian Revolution disrupted her life. Her father’s business was confiscated and the family displaced. They fled to the Peninsula. They returned back after she graduated from high school at the age of sixteen.
After the Revolution the universities were opened for women. Ayn was among the first set of women to study there, she enrolled in department for social pedagogy and majored in history.
In the autumn of 1925, Rand was granted a visa to visit American relatives. When she arrived in New York City on February 19, 1926, she was so impressed with the skyline of Manhattan that she cried what she later called “tears of splendor”. Intent on staying in the United States to become a screenwriter, she lived for a few months with relatives in Chicago, one of whom owned a movie theater and allowed her to watch dozens of films for free. She then set out for California. She did many small odd jobs to pay her expenses.
Her first book got published in year 1936 named We the Living.The book is in Soviet Russia and focuses on the struggle between the individual and the state.
She once said that “We the Living is as near to an autobiography as I will ever write. It is not an autobiography in the literal, but only in the intellectual sense. The plot is invented, the background is not…”
Her major release was The Fountainhead in year 1943. It is a romantic and philosophical novel which centers on an uncompromising young architect named Howard Roark and his struggle against what Rand described as “second-handers”—those who attempt to live through others, placing others above themselves.
It changed the course of Rand’s career and later in year 1957 she published Atlas Shrugged which was considered Rand’s magnum opus. Rand described the theme of the novel as “the role of the mind in man’s existence—and, as a corollary, the demonstration of a new moral philosophy: the morality of rational self-interest.
The plot involves a dystopian United States in which the most creative industrialists, scientists, and artists respond to a welfare state government by going on strike and retreating to a mountainous hideaway where they build an independent free economy. The novel’s hero and leader of the strike, John Galt, says that “he will stop the motor of the world ” and does so by withdrawing the minds of the individuals most contributing to the nation’s wealth and achievement. With this fictional strike, Rand intended to illustrate that without the efforts of the rational and productive, the economy would collapse and society would fall apart. The novel includes elements of romance, mystery, and science fiction, and it contains Rand’s most extensive statement of Objectivism in any of her works of fiction, a lengthy monologue delivered by Galt.
After completing the novel, Rand fell into a severe depression. Atlas Shrugged was Rand’s last completed work of fiction; a turning point in her life, it marked the end of Rand’s career as a novelist and the beginning of her role as a popular philosopher.
I have read both of her masterpieces The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged and indeed they are one of the best books I have read so far. They are best amalgamation of philosophy and fiction.
If you haven’t read these two then now is the time to include them in your to read list.
“..it is precisely the self that cannot and must not be sacrificed. It is the unsacrificed self that we must respect in man above all.”
You can check more about her works on here.