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 About Ayn Rand
 
The Best of Times, the Worst of Times
henrymarkholzer.citymax.com, United States Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Erika Holzer
Henry Mark Holzer
Heller’s prodigious research about Alissa Rosenbaum—through primary sources, historical materials, and personal interviews—portrays a child understandably living in constant fear of being terrorized at the whim of the czar’s government operating under the most subjective “laws” imaginable, writes Erika And Henry Mark Holzer.

Ayn Rand was one of the most intriguing, complex and seminal American thinkers of the Twentieth Century.

...

As the subtext of Heller’s biography reveals, for all those people around her, including Hank and Erika Holzer, close relationships with Rand were, as Charles Dickens wrote in A Tale of Two Cities, the best of times and the worst of times.

Heller begins her biography with Alissa Rosenbaum’s 1905 birth in St. Petersburg, Russia, and ends with Ayn Rand’s 1982 death in New York City at the age of seventy-seven. Heller has structured her book in strict chronological order, beginning and ending with Rand’s birth and death, albeit with interspersed non-chronological lesser events. This enables the reader to see Ayn Rand’s development as person, woman and writer.

...

Heller’s prodigious research about Alissa Rosenbaum—through primary sources, historical materials, and personal interviews—portrays a child understandably living in constant fear of being terrorized at the whim of the czar’s government operating under the most subjective “laws” imaginable.

Heller dramatically makes clear in her Russian chapters that following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, living became intolerable.

These preliminary chapters are important for several reasons.

First, the chapters launch Heller’s overall approach to her biography: the integration of Alissa’s personal experiences and conditions in Russia’s monarchial-statist system with the fictional events and characters Ayn would create decades later in America. By means of this integrative technique, Heller reveals many of the important influences on Alissa Rosenbaum that would find expression later in Ayn Rand’s personal and professional life.

...

...

Second, and equally important, Heller puts in place building block principles and attitudes upon which will rest much that she later reveals about Rand.

...

The third reason Heller’s Russian chapters are important is because of her extensive discussion of Alissa’s awakening to the existence and nature of heroes. (This material is so intriguing that Heller’s explication about the heroes of Alissa’s childhood and her tracing their influence into Ayn’s adult novels suggests that a Ph.D dissertation or even an entire book is waiting to be written on that subject alone.)

According to Heller, “[I]t was the sexually charged character of Cyrus who fixed the story permanently in her mind. She probably spent hundreds of hours poring over the drawings and descriptions of the dashing hero who for her became the equivalent of an adolescent heartthrob. He was her ‘exclusive love,’ she said,from the age of nine until the age of twelve . . . . He provided an aspirational remedy for her sense of isolation. With Cyrus as her secret lover and perfect soul mate [at age nine!], she successfully moved outside the circle of others’ conventional reality. * * * “In homage,” Heller writes, “she would name Kira Argounova, the protagonist of We the Living, for Cyrus, ‘Kira’ being the feminine version of ‘Kirill,’ which is the Russian variant of ‘Cyrus’.”

...

...

A few months short of Hank’s sixteenth birthday, he saw The Fountainhead at a local movie theater in New York City. On a level somewhere between conscious and subconscious, the film made a deep impression on him (although at the time he was not conscious of why).
A few years later, Erika, a Cornell freshman, read a copy of The Fountainhead her mother had given her—and was stunned by the heroic larger-than-life Howard Roark. Besides the uncompromising young architect, she found three other characters memorable: Peter Keating, the second-hander; sweet-natured Katie, the love of his life whom he helped destroy; the utterly fascinating villain, Ellsworth Toohey. Erika’s overall response to the novel was that it was a paean to individualism.

...

In the spring of 1958, during our second year in law school, Hank gave Erika a copy. He told her Atlas Shrugged had been written by the author of The Fountainhead, and that it would change Erika’s life.

It did.

After reading Atlas Shrugged straight through, with barely time for sleep or meals, Erika felt as if the novel had somehow clarified and integrated every important aspect of her life.
A few years later, we learned that in New York City Nathaniel Branden was giving lectures on Ayn Rand’s ideas. After “passing” a personal interview conducted in Branden’s apartment, we were allowed to attend the lectures. A huge added bonus, he informed us, was that “Miss Rand” would appear in person to answer questions from the audience about her philosophy.

...

Apparently impressed, Rand invited Erika to discuss her fledging fiction-writing efforts.

...

Rand’s favorite practice piece (and Erika’s) was a long law-related scene. Rand proceeded to give her line-by-line feedback.

Rand pinpointed specific metaphors and adjectives.

She went out of her way to make sure Erika understood why the practice piece worked so well, zeroing in on a line of pickets outside the courtroom.

...

Ayn Rand spent hours with this “neophyte” on half-a-dozen practice pieces! Throughout, she was warm and generous with her time and advice, telling Erika that she had talent and encouraging her to keep at it.

It was time to leave. They shook hands at the door. “Good premises,” Rand said, warmth in her smile.

...

As lawyers, we represented Ayn Rand in all her legal affairs (except for literary, financial and tax matters). Essentially, as Barbara Branden has accurately characterized our professional relationship with Ayn, it embraced “everything to do with Objectivism,” a heavy portfolio indeed. (Heller errs by mischaracterizing our legal representation of Ayn Rand as handling merely intellectual property infractions.)

...

Anne Heller and others have written at length of Ayn Rand’s razor-like analytical ability. But unless one has experienced it first-hand, as we did many times, it is impossible to capture in mere words. Suffice to say that Ayn framed questions precisely, relevantly and causally, that she instantly integrated facts, and that she quickly grasped legal principles and the implications of policy issues.

Many times a legal subject would arise about which she had not a scintilla of knowledge. Ayn would ask a logical series of fact and law questions, pause for a moment while she sifted and rearranged the data in her mind (one could almost hear the gears turning), and then summarize the analysis in a brief cohesive statement. During countless hours of this almost Socratic dialogue, it was not always evident who was learning more from whom. Speaking for ourselves, the experience sharpened our own abilities to ascertain facts, synthesize data, and— most important—to think in principle.

...


What kind of a fiction-writing teacher was Ayn Rand? In a word, inspired. Her enthusiasm, her gift for imparting the knowledge and skills she had painstakingly acquired, her unstinting patience in explaining a single point or an entire methodology, the generosity with which, time and time again, she guided Erika from error to enlightenment, all these qualities were the mark of a person who was a born teacher.

...


Heller writes that in 1972, the film “. . . became available to art-house audiences thanks to the efforts of three of her admirers” (emphasis supplied). Apparently, the reader is supposed to fill in for himself the thirty-one year gap between 1941 and 1972 when, magically, “an artful splicing together” turned four-plus hours of celluloid into a tight, nearly three-hour-long English language subtitled film. For the record, it was the Holzers alone who rescued We the Living from oblivion, and later furnished financing for its restoration and release).


During our quest to find We the Livin

This article was published in the henrymarkholzer.citymax.com on Tuesday, January 12, 2010. Please read the original article here.
Authors :
Ms Erika Holzer is a fiction writer, and a former associate of Ayn Rand. Her latest book is “Ayn Rand: My Fiction-Writing Teacher, A novelist’s mentor-protégé relationship with the author of Atlas Shrugged.”
Mr Holzer practiced constitutional and appellate law for 50 years in the United States.
Tags- Find more articles on - barbara branden | Edith Ephron | erika holzer | henry mark holzer | Isabel Paterson | nathaniel branden | Rothbard | We The Living

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