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Ayn Rand: Far from perfect
The Financial Express, India Sunday, July 4, 2010

Ayn Rand, according Anne C Hellers biography, used to begin conversations with the question “what are your premises?” Ayn Rand represents the world of 20th Century big business to many. The world is imperfect and Rand went through much pain when she got bad reviews and her works were misunderstood, writes Nistula Hebbar in The Financial Express.

Ayn Rand’s favourite conversational gambit according to this excellent book by Anne Heller was a hectoring, “what are your premises?” A questioning of one’s basic philosophical under pinnings, which, if it didn’t match hers would be skillfully demolished by one of the most original thinkers of the last century.


For many people, Rand represents the world of 20th Century America of big business. She was in fact a Russian Jew, completely out of sync with Soviet Russia and even earlier, by her own family’s bourgeois pretensions. Heller draws a vivid picture of her flight from Russia, helped enormously by her mother’s much reviled petite bourgeois relatives, and her own incredible self belief.

... ...

The book points the finger at the one thing, in fact, which makes most people uncomfortable with Rand’s philosophy despite the brilliance of her premises, the fact that this is an imperfect world, and not everyone is a genius. By demonstrating rather comprehensively the fact that Rand needed the help of a host of mediocre “Ellsworth Tooheys and Paul Keatings”, to succeed and the approbation of the world quite at odds with her devil may care, solitary genius heroes, exposes the vulnerability of the philosopher. In her world, Howard Roark and John Galt may have been oblivious of bad reviews, but Rand went through much pain when her work was “misunderstood.”

It is at these intersections of her world and the “real world” that the portrait of Rand is best captured in this book. A must read for all those who thought “man worship” was the way to go, if this doesnt send you back to those dog eared copies of We, the Living, nothing else will.

This article was published in the The Financial Express on Sunday, July 4, 2010. Please read the original article here.
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