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Olden Life

Features | By Michael White

Who Was Ayn Rand?

‘Did you just say you’ve managed to reach your age without reading a word of Ayn Rand? She was one of the most brilliant philosophers of all times, up there with Aristotle and St Thomas Aquinas. They’re “the three As” – she said so herself. Surely you’ve read Atlas Shrugged; everyone’s read Atlas Shrugged – it’s Ayn’s most ambitious novel and sets out her Objectivist theories very clearly. Despite those spiteful liberal critics and academic snobs, it’s sold seven million copies; it’s always in print.’ ‘That rings a faint bell. Is Rand the “greed is good” ethical egotist, who advocated reason, individualism, atheism and laissez-faire capitalism, the one whose books are illustrated with Tamara Lempicka covers in the Penguin Modern Classics edition? I think I may have opened “Atlas Winced” once in Waterstones. Ann certainly has pacy scriptwriter’s style, but it was too hectoring for my taste and weighed more...

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