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The Passion of Ayn Rand Paperback – August 18, 1987
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From the Publisher
This bestselling biography of one of the 20th century's most remarkable and controversial writers is now available in paperback. Author Barbara Branden, who knew Rand for nineteen years, provides a matchless portrait of this fiercely private and complex woman.
From the Inside Flap
ling biography of one of the 20th century's most remarkable and controversial writers is now available in paperback. Author Barbara Branden, who knew Rand for nineteen years, provides a matchless portrait of this fiercely private and complex woman.
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This biography/memoir came out in 1986. Generally speaking, it's quite good. In fact, in 2009 two biographies were published which largely confirm the accuracy of Branden's biography while making occasional corrections to the historical record.
Although the book has a new introduction, the text appears to be the same as 1986 edition. For example, it repeats the story (now known to be false) that Rand took her name from a Remington Rand typewriter.
It's pretty accurate for many events.
The idea that Rand's ideas are based on things that happened in her childhood is simplistic. My parents and I agree with almost all of her philosophy yet we lived the best kind of life in America. For instance, there's no reason to think her love of capitalism was based on her reaction to her father losing his business in the Russian revolution.
This biography of Rand provided the first detailed account of Rand's personal life to be published. For that alone, I am grateful. This book did not disillusion me, but it served as a ''grounding" device to remind me that the reality in which she and I live are NOT the "ideal reality" which she projected in her fiction. Her ideal reality is one toward which we may aspire, but not necessarily expect to encounter everyday.
I can't prove how "accurate" Branden's memories are of her conversations with Rand, but it is infinitely inspiring to me that Rand accomplished so much when she had so many alleged imperfections. If the criticisms in this book of Rand are accurate, then the enormity of her philosophical accomplishments are not diminished, but are all the more profound and admirable.
The form of the book begins with the appearance of a factual biography, which blends into a "fiction-like" narrative based on Branden's conversations with Rand, interspersed with "tape-recorded" conversations held with Rand and others, then metamorphosed into a poetic eulogy of Rand. Although Branden's "interpretations" of Rand are questionable, Ms. Branden seems neither sufficiently intelligent nor creative, to "fabricate" this kind of stuff. For that reason alone, her story rings "fuzzily" true. I say "fuzzily," because she is remembering events in the way which is the "least unflattering" toward herself.
After reading "The Passion of Ayn Rand" I had a greater hope. Ayn Rand was imperfect but overcame immeasurable odds. Perhaps I might do the same. The possibility of happiness, and the moral right to "freedom-of-action" were all that Rand ever offered in her philosophy of Objectivism. Rand was a realist and offered no guarantees of happiness. She only offered possibilities based upon reality and human choices in response to that reality.
To anyone who understands the enormity of Rand's philosophical ingenuity, and the complexity and subtlety of her system, the flaws of Branden's book are neither surprising nor upsetting; it would be surprising indeed if a genius like Rand were NOT misunderstood, especially by those closest to her. Nonetheless, this book is (or should be) a treasured possession for all Objectivists who admire Rand's heroism within the full context of her humanity. For non-Objectivists, this biography is at least an inspiring testament to human willpower, and the ability to overcome formidable obstacles in the accomplishment of one's dreams.
In "The Passion of Ayn Rand," Branden criticizes Rand's philosophy in the same manner that Rand criticized Thomas Woolf (Branden's favorite author), without recognizing the irony of her actions. Branden seems not to realize that her harsh criticisms of Rand is to Objectivists, what Rand's harsh criticism of Woolf was to Branden herself. But Rand is the superior writer, and Objectivists have the more valid defense.
I think Ms. Branden agrees with me when she says "...How fitting it would be if the legends of Valhalla were true. Ayn would travel to the paradise of the brave, the paradise assigned to heroes slain in battle":
That our heroes, philosophical or otherwise, are born from the same flesh-and-blood as the rest of us, does not detract from their heroism, but renders such heroism all the more memorable, powerful and sacred.