When I chose ‘ The Fountainhead’ from the pile of books to read a friend of mine asked, “Oh, is it because you turned a feminist that you chose this book?” and for a moment I was surprised by the way every women writer was being categorized in our society and how every women reader was being looked down. Nevertheless, Ayn Rand is a must read. Be it a woman or a man.
“I am often asked whether I am primarily a novelist or a philosopher. The answer is: both. In a certain sense, every novelist is a philosopher, because one cannot present a picture of human existence without a philosophical framework. . . . In order to define, explain and present my concept of man, I had to become a philosopher in the specific meaning of the term.”
— Ayn Rand,
So, to all my fellow folks who found the pigeonhole to accommodate books on the mark of gender and distinguish them based on misogynistic ideas, why don’t we take a break and voyage to the importance of her books and get to know the relevance of its serendipity. So, here are the must –reads of Ayn Rand.
- The Fountainhead, 1943
What motivates a creative thinker?Is it a selfless desire to benefit mankind? A hunger for fame, fortune, and accolades? The need to prove superiority? Or is it a self-sufficient drive to pursue a creative vision, independent of others’ needs or opinions? Ayn Rand addresses these questions through her portrayal of Howard Roark, an innovative architect who, as she puts it, “struggles for the integrity of his creative work against every form of social opposition.” She drew a selfless martyr to an artistic ideal, even in that period of writing, What Roark exemplifies is Rand’s concept of independence as the “acceptance of the responsibility of forming one’s own judgments and of living by the work of one’s own mind.”
- Atlas Shrugged,1957
‘An absurd philosophy that got sold to the world of business and government, creating a world of havoc in the United States.’ The philosophy, called “Objectivism,” is her gift to her readers. The goal of her writing was not to capture a slice of life but to project her moral vision of man as he ought to be. Novels are where readers live out their fantasies, and Atlas Shrugged is one such novel. The theme of Atlas Shrugged, according to Ayn Rand, “is the role of the mind in man’s existence.” It is the mind, the story shows, that is the root of all human knowledge and values — and its absence is the root of all evil.
- We the living, 1936 & 1959
“Now look at me! Take a good look! I was born and I knew I was alive and I knew what I wanted. . . . And who — in this damned universe — who can tell me why I should live for anything but for that which I want? . . . But you’ve tried to tell us what we should want. You came as a solemn army to bring a new life to men. You tore that life you knew nothing about, out of their guts — and you told them what it had to be. You took their every hour, every minute, every nerve, every thought in the farthest corners of their souls — and you told them what it had to be. You came and you forbade life to the living. You’ve driven us all into an iron cellar and you’ve closed all doors, and you’ve locked us airtight, airtight till the blood vessels of our spirits burst! Then you stare and wonder what it’s doing to us. Well, then, look! All of you who have eyes left — look!”
— Kira Argounova, We the Living by Ayn Rand
The dramatic story of one young woman’s struggle for freedom during Russian Revolution, as she is torn between two men: the aristocrat she loves, and the dangerous communist who loves her. ‘We the living’ is the debut novel from her and the closest that she would ever come to writing an autobiography.
- Anthem, 1938 & 1946
‘Both as a thinker and as an artist, Ayn Rand stormed against the tide. As a philosopher, she was an uncompromising champion of reason, individualism and pure capitalism. As a novelist, she was an impassioned Romantic. In both capacities, she was startling, original, and unprecedented. And in both roles she obtained a worldwide audience for her philosophy’ says The Atlas Society. And which is the soul reason how ‘Anthem’ turns to be a beautifully written and inspiring novelette of a man who, in a totally collectivist future, rediscovers his own sense of selfhood. Collectivism, in Ayn Rand’s view, is the belief that the individual should be subjugated to the group and sacrificed for the common good. Anthem depicts the evils to which collectivism leads when implemented consistently. Besides individualism, egoism also adds on to the hat of Ayn Rand with a beautiful air of intellectual writing. Which is precisely why she remains my favourite.