Ayn Rand

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Ayn Rand

Ayn Rand Signature - 1972

Bold signature dated June 20, 1972, likely removed from a book.

AYN RAND (1905-1982), born Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum, was a Russian-born American novelist, philosopher, playwright and screenwriter. She is widely known for her best-selling novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system called Objectivism.

Rand advocated rational individualism and laissez-faire capitalism, categorically rejecting socialism, altruism, and religion. Her ideas remain both influential and controversial.

Rand’s first major professional success came with her best-selling novel The Fountainhead (1943), which she wrote over a period of seven years. Its plot centered on a young architect named Howard Roark and revolved around the conflict between independent thinkers and “second-handers.” The novel was rejected by twelve publishers before finally being accepted by the Bobbs-Merrill Company publishing house, upon the insistence of editorial board member Archibald Ogden.

The Fountainhead eventually became a worldwide success, bringing Rand fame and financial security. In the sixty years since it was published, it has sold six million copies, and continues to sell about 100,000 copies per year.

Rand’s magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged, was published in 1957. Due to the success of The Fountainhead, the initial printing ran to 100,000 copies, and the book went on to become an international bestseller. Sales of Atlas Shrugged remained strong in subsequent decades, and it has been cited by many interviewees as the book that most influenced them.

The theme of Atlas Shrugged is the role of man’s mind in society. Its plot involves a dystopian America in which industrialists and other creative individuals go on strike and retreat to a mountainous hideaway where they build an independent free economy. The novel includes elements of mystery and science fiction, and deals with other diverse issues as wide-ranging as sex, music, medicine, politics, philosophy, industry, and human ability. Atlas Shrugged contains Rand’s most extensive statement of Objectivism of any in her works of fiction, including a 30 page monologue delivered by the novel’s hero, John Galt.

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