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Ayn Rand Biography

(1905–82), We the Living, Anthem, The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, For the New Intellectual

American novelist, essayist, and pamphleteer, born in St Petersburg, Russia, educated at the University of Petrograd; she emigrated to America shortly afterwards. Her first novel, We the Living (1936), was the melodramatic account of a woman's emotional involvement with two men, one communist, one not; it was largely dismissed by the critics, as was Anthem (1938), a futuristic fantasy. A self-styled philosopher who attempted, through her fiction, to theorize her belief in the supremacy of rationalism, individualism, and entrepreneurial capitalism, Rand built her reputation on the enormous popular success of her novels The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957). Her works appealed to the imagination not only of a mass readership but of a group of intellectuals who detected in her narratives the seeds of a right-wing ideology of monetarism and hegemony. After 1957 she abandoned fiction in pursuit of a quasi-academic career. As well as publishing books such as For the New Intellectual (1961), which collects some of her essays, The Virtue of Selfishness (1965), and The Romantic Manifesto (1969), she promoted her theories, now labelled Objectivism, in a series of tracts, pamphlets, articles, and journals. There is a biography, The Passion of Ayn Rand (1986), by Barbara Branden; a novel by Mary Gaitskill, Two Girls, Fat and Thin (1991), skilfully satirizes her theories and considerable influence.

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Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: David Rabe Biography to Rhinoceros (Rhinocéros)