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Not long after her arrival in America, Alissa Rosenbaum renamed herself Ayn Rand. In her early writings, she engages in a concerted effort to understand and critique polarities she had confronted in the Russia of her youth. She focuses primarily on the dialectical unity of religion and statism. She gropes toward a philosophical synthesis that rejects faith and force, but integrates the splits within human existence, between mind and body, fact and value, theory and practice. novelist and philosopher Rand was once asked if she was primarily a novelist or a philosopher. In typically dialectical fashion, she responded, “Both” ([1961] 1992T): In a certain sense, every novelist is a philosopher, because one cannot present a picture of human existence without a philosophical framework ; the novelist’s only choice is whether that framework is present in his story explicitly or implicitly, whether he is aware of it or not, whether he holds his philosophical convictions consciously or subconsciously . (New Intellectual, vii) Rand’s literary and philosophical goals were internally related. She could not pursue her literary project without gradually articulating a philosophical framework. And she could not apply her philosophy without the maturation of ayn rand 90 the maturation of ayn rand  91­ expressing its values concretely in stories, screenplays, dramas, and novels. Thus Rand transcended the dualism between philosophy and art, social thought and entertainment. As she stated in a journal entry dated 4 May 1946, she had no interest in presenting newly discovered knowledge “in its abstract, general form.”1 She wished to apply her knowledge “in the concrete form of men and events, in the form of a fiction story.” Such a fusion of the abstract and the concrete led Rand to wonder if she represented “a peculiar phenomenon.” Like Nina Berberova and other Russian writers, Rand believed, with no show of modesty, that she had achieved “the proper integration of a complete human being” (xiv). Rand’s goal in writing was “the projection of an ideal man.” This literary portrayal was, for her, “an end in itself—to which any didactic, intellectual or philosophical values contained in a novel are only the means.”2 But the “ideal man” was not a pure abstraction. He had to be related to “the conditions which make him possible and which his existence requires.”3 By defining the values such an ideal man would have and by delineating the social conditions that would make it possible for him to exist and flourish, Rand slowly moved from best-selling novelist to public philosopher. She shifted from the specifically ­ anticommunist political themes of her first novel, We the Living, to the broad metaphysical and epistemological themes of Atlas Shrugged. She eventually­ boasted that she was “challenging the cultural tradition of two-­ and-ahalf -thousand years.”4 Her formal philosophy, “untainted by any ­Kantian influence,” aimed to reconnect the elements in human ­ existence “which Kant had severed.”5 digesting the past There is no evidence to suggest that Rand explicitly criticized the works of Russian philosophers. No journals from her Russian period are extant, and the journal entries currently available date a full dozen years after her university encounters with Lossky. But in the late 1920s and early 1930s, Rand drew from her own experiences in Russia to compose a number of short stories and plays. Many of these unpublished stories appear in The Early Ayn Rand, among them, “Good Copy,” “Escort,” “The Night King,” “Her Second Career,” and “The Husband I Bought.”6 This last tale of unrequited love was based on Rand’s first romantic experiences in Russia with a man who was probably exiled to Siberia.7 In 1931–32, she wrote a film treatment and screenplay called “Red Pawn,” which dealt specifically with the evil of Soviet communism. 92 ayn rand Of greater philosophical importance, however, is the secondary theme of this work. For the first time, Rand dealt with “the philosophic identity of Communism and religion.”8 In Rand’s Russia, religion offered the only organized opposition to the Bolsheviks. Religion was viewed as communism ’s natural enemy. Whereas communism was atheistic and materialistic , religion celebrated God’s existence and human spiritual redemption. Rand examined this opposition between two dominant Russian cultural forces and refused to accept their apparent hostility as evidence for their mutual exclusivity. She recognized that something fundamental united the communists and the believers. Tracing their essential similarities became one of Rand’s earliest philosophical preoccupations. For Rand, communism was a secular substitute for religion. Like...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780271061214
Related ISBN
9780271062273
MARC Record
OCLC
860712160
Pages
496
Launched on MUSE
2013-11-04
Language
English
Open Access
No
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