At MSN Encarta, they say:
Ayn Rand (1905-1982), American novelist and philosopher, whose championing of the gifted individual established her as a controversial figure in 20th-century literary and philosophical debate. Rand upheld individualism over collectivism and egoism over altruism. She staunchly defended reason as the tool that sustains and nourishes the individual against the forces that can weaken it.
Born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Rand immigrated to the United States in 1926. She worked sporadically as a screenwriter and script reader in Hollywood, California, until 1943. Her first two novels, We the Living (1936) and Anthem (1938), portray dystopias and dictatorships as warnings against monolithic sociopolitical systems such as Communism and Fascism.
The Fountainhead (1943), perhaps Rand’s best-known novel, portrays Howard Roark, an architect and formidable egoist, who fights against his entire profession for his own artistic vision. The character of Roark embodies Rand’s philosophy of objectivism, which encourages individuals to pursue their rational self-interests. According to Rand, human understanding and acceptance of reality form the basis of judgment and values. She believed that human beings must live for themselves, neither sacrificing any part of their natures or goals to other people, nor bending others’ wills to their own. “Ayn Rand,” by Christian K. Messenger, B.A., M.A., Ph.D. Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2008 http://encarta.msn.com © 1997-2008 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
The movie version of We the Living — the black & white version made illegally in 1940s Italy — is fantastic. Alida Valli was the leading actress; wow… The movie was so well done, the Fascists eventually realized that the movie was anti-totalitarian, not just anti-Communist, and had it pulled from all theatres!
Rand also wrote Atlas Shrugged, which is getting a great deal of attention in the midst of today’s economic-social-political situation — see, for example, ” ‘Atlas Shrugged: From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years” by Stephen Moore, published on Friday, January 9, 2009, in the Wall Street Journal Online. WSJ.com has posted a short video of a Stephen Moore interview by James Freeman, Assistant Editor, Editorial Page, WSJ.
Happy Birthday, Ayn Rand!!