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Letters of Ayn Rand Paperback – February 1, 1997


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Plume; Reprint edition (February 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0452274044
  • ISBN-13: 978-0452274044
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #622,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Novelist, screenwriter, philosopher and staunch advocate of laissez-faire capitalism, Ayn Rand (1905-1982) saw communism, Nazism and fascism as kindred evils sprung from the same collectivist mentality. Her atheist philosophy, which she called objectivism and which was reflected in her bestselling novels?The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged?extolled individualism, voluntary cooperation and conscious choice while condemning altruism (living for others) and self-sacrifice as moral fallacies. These themes resound in her outspoken, sometimes strident correspondence, which includes letters to Senator Barry Goldwater, Frank Lloyd Wright, H.L. Mencken, Dashiell Hammett, Cecil B. DeMille and actors Robert Stack and Barbara Stanwyck. Sprinkled with critiques of liberals, leftists and others whom she saw as corrupted by collectivist thinking, the voluminous correspondence reflects Rand's desperate concern for her parents and sisters, trapped under Stalinism in her native Russia (which she left for Hollywood in 1926), and includes her analyses of her novels' plots as well as pessimistic cultural commentary on an America she considered to be in decline. Berliner is executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Novelist-philosopher Rand--the advocate nonpareil of rationalism; of unfettered, unregulated capitalism; of individual rights and responsibilities--wrote her letters as carefully as her books because, she said, of the necessity of guarding her words when writing to relatives in the Soviet Union. Her precise missives always said exactly what she meant, and whether writing to fans, friends, business associates, or strangers, Rand was never at a loss for words. One of the unexpected pleasures of this collection is the copious professional advice she gave beginning writers, yet the heart of the letters as much as of her books is, of course, her political and philosophical views. Imbued with her fiercely held beliefs, the letters most devoted to politics and philosophy fairly blaze off the page. Rand always held to and fluently and lucidly explained the distinction between her philosophy, objectivism, and the various phases of twentieth-century American conservatism. Regardless of one's opinion of her thinking, her letters add greatly to our understanding of a most exceptional woman of letters. Dennis Winters --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

Anyway, I'm devouring this book!!!
David Christian
The book is organized chronologically, so one can trace the development of her ideas as well as her successes (and a few disappointments).
Janet Lee W.
You really need to read her letters to feel the intensity of this reverence and get its flavor.
Jeffrey A. Cohen

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Steve Jackson on December 10, 2003
Format: Paperback
This collection of Ayn Rand's letters is an interesting and important addition to her works. It was edited by Michael Berliner, then-executive director of the Ayn Rand Institute. (ARI advocates the "Official Objectivism" of Leonard Peikoff.) For those who know Rand through her at times shrill writing and the self-serving accounts of former insiders, this collection presents a valuable "other side" to Rand. Written over a period of 55 years, we read love letters to her husband, letters to friends and fans, and letters to politicians. In fact, Rand corresponded with some of the most famous people of the century, such as Alexander Kerensky, H. L. Mencken, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Barry Goldwater, to name a few. The philosophical portions of the letters are quite meaty, and Rand obviously put a great deal of effort into her correspondence.
Not surprisingly, the only letters to Nathaniel Branden included were written before he became her associate. The end result is that Branden's contributions to Objectivism are downplayed, which is typical of the material produced by the ARI. (For example, even though Rand approved of Branden's writings published prior to their split, they do not appear in THE AYN RAND LEXICON or other post-split collections.)
The most interesting selections are the letters to Isabel Paterson and the distinguished philosopher John Hospers. In order to get permission to quote Hospers' comments contained in Rand's letters, the editor was obliged to include a statement from Hospers. As Hospers says, Rand occasionally misrepresented or misunderstood his point, so printing only Rand's letters to Hospers makes him "look like a bloody fool. . . . And that isn't quite fair, is it?"
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Rodney Rawlings on February 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
I found this book tremendously inspiring, as inspiring as a great biography--because in a sense that is what it is. Ones sees that despite the negatives, Ayn Rand took joy in the great crusade of ideas that constituted her life. Through these letters the reader feels like he is participating in this drama.
The most interesting aspect is, in the Introduction's words, the "series of painful shocks" by which she came to realize the philosophical and moral bankruptcy of "the pitiful compromisers and anti-intellectual temporizers" known as conservatives. A few of them have posted reviews below. As comes out in those postings, conservatives want to "conserve" not only capitalism, but also the moral-philosophical status quo. This is evident in the logical structure of the arguments presented. An "actual" philosopher is presumed by them to be any representative of that Establishment, whereas a young person striving to come to an independent grasp of reality has got to be an unwitting victim. A novelist who solves an ancient problem (the is-ought gap) in the course of composing a character's climactic speech ("Well, I never! A speech in a novel! Who ever heard of such a thing?") is only starting to engage in "efforts" in philosophy when she refers to and cites that speech in the manner of a proper academic who is publishing before he perishes.
One hears the familiar drone of the conservative in another reviewer's condemnation of Rand's morality of rational self-interest as "justification for behaving in a[n] anti-social manner that is slowly destroying the fabric of the societies of the Western World.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 24, 1996
Format: Hardcover
Not entirely enthralling; but just the section of letters to and from Frank Lloyd Wright is worth it. Rand wrote to Wright during the writing of and after the completion of The Fountainhead. His initial reaction was curt, bordering on rude. His abrupt turn around after reading the book, though, was fascinating. She developed a brief friendly relationship with him, visiting him at his personal estate, and he even designed a house for her and her husband, which, sadly, was never built. Other selections in this book are valuable for their clarification of her ideas and further elucidations of her novels given in response to inquiring fan letters
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 16, 1997
Format: Paperback
As one who knew Ayn Rand quite well at the end of her life, I was still amazed by this book: the unique combination of passionate valuing and ruthless logic that characterized her later years shone throughout her life--but with fascinating variations in form. Through these letters, you follow her life from age 21, when she writes back home to Russia, to Leo (the model for the hero of her first novel), to her long and brilliant philosophic correspondence with Prof. John Hospers after the publication of _Atlas Shrugged_. Also letters to H. L. Mencken, Frank Lloyd Wright, Mickey Spillaine, Barry Goldwater, Cecil B. DeMille, Bennett Cerf, Walt Disney, Alexander Kerensky, Ginger Rogers, Robert Stack, Isabel Paterson, as well as her responses to ordinary fan-letters. An intimate chronicle of the soul from which sprang Howard Roark, Francisco d'Anconia, John Galt and her other unprecedented heroes.
Harry Binswanger (hb@interport.net)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Janet Lee W. on April 14, 2007
Format: Paperback
I must confess, when I first received Letters of Ayn Rand from my sister as a birthday present, I wasn't very motivated to read it. I had read most of Ayn Rand's novels and a few books and essays about her life, so I thought it would be very similar to what I already knew about her. Was I pleasantly surprised! Reading her personal letters written to everyone from literally the boy and girl next door to Frank Lloyd Wright and Barbara Stanwyck gave me an insight into Rand's personality and values that can't be found elsewhere. What comes out in her letters is how seriously she takes not only her own ideas, but the ideas of others. The book is organized chronologically, so one can trace the development of her ideas as well as her successes (and a few disappointments). I was also very surprised to learn how actively involved she was in the marketing of her novels. She wasn't just passively standing by hoping people would read her novels; rather, she gave suggestions to the publisher and edited marketing materials. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the fascinating personality and incredible mind behind The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.
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More About the Author

Ayn Rand's first novel, We the Living, was published in 1936. With the publication of The Fountainhead in 1943, she achieved spectacular and enduring success. Through her novels and nonfiction writings, which express her unique philosophy, Objectivism, Rand maintains a lasting influence on popular thought.

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