Ayn Rand

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Rand, Ayn

(īn), 1905–82, American writer, b. St. Petersburg, Russia, as Alissa Rosenbaum. She came to the United States in 1926, became a citizen five years later, and worked for many years as a Hollywood screenwriter. Her novels are romantic, dramatic, and often didactic, espousing a philosophy built on a muscular capitalism, aggressive individualism, and a rational self-interest that opposes the collective nature of the modern welfare state and totalitarian societies. These principles are rather woodenly embodied in the plots, heroes, and villains of her major novels, The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957). In For the New Intellectual (1961) she summarized her philosophy, which she called "objectivism"; it posits a concrete external reality, idea-driven emotions, and self-interest as ethical ideal. Her works have had a notable influence on many of America's political and economic conservatives.


See the memoir by N. Branden (1989); biographies by B. Branden (1987), J. Burns (2009), and A. C. Heller (2009); study by J. T. Baker (1987); her letters, ed. by M. S. Berliner (1995), and her journals, ed. by D. Harriman (1997).

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Rand, Ayn

(1905–82) writer, philosopher; born in St. Petersburg, Russia. As an adolescent during the Bolshevik Revolution, she saw people stripped of property and massacred. After graduating from the University of Leningrad (1926), she fled to the U.S.A., which she considered the "country of the individual," becoming a citizen in 1931. Starting as a screenwriter and dramatist, she eventually won fame for her novels, such as The Fountainhead (1943)—also made into a film she scripted—and Atlas Shrugged (1957), the bible of her "objectivism." This philosophy, promoted in books such as The Virtue of Selfishness (1957) and through an institute set up by her disciple Nathaniel Brandon, glorified self-assertion and competition.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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