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Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand sits during House Un-American Affairs committee hearings in which she testified that the Hollywood movies MISSION TO MOSCOW and SONG OF RUSSIA were pro-Russian propaganda, Washington, DC, November 1947.

Leonard Mccombe/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
Ayn Rand, (1905-1982), was an American author and social critic. Her books serve mainly as a means of expressing her philosophies. Literary critics tend to see them as marred by a tendency to instruct the reader.

Rand's best-known novels are THE FOUNTAINHEAD (1943) and ATLAS SHRUGGED (1957). Both present a moral and economic philosophy, called Objectivism, based on individualism and self-interest. These novels express the belief that original ideas are the main force in the world and that creative individuals deserve to profit from their ideas. The heroes represent disciplined, rational people of action who reject organized religion. In THE FOUNTAINHEAD, an architect destroys a housing project in which his ideas had been altered. In ATLAS SHRUGGED, one of the central characters calls a "mind strike," during which all creative people withhold their ideas from the rest of the world. The strike reveals that society cannot exist without creative genius.

Rand was born in St. Petersburg, Russia. She moved to the United States in 1926 and became a U.S. citizen in 1931. Her novels WE THE LIVING (1936) and ANTHEm (1938) reflect her early life in Russia. Both novels express her revolt against socialist forms of government. Rand also wrote about her philosophies in such works of nonfiction as FOR THE NEW INTELLECTUAL (1961), THE VIRTUE OF SELFISHNESS (1964), and CAPITALISM, THE UNKNOWN IDEAL (1966).

Arthur M. Saltzman, Ph.D., Professor of English, Missouri Southern State College.

From THE WORLD BOOK ENCYCLOPEDIA © 2007 World Book, Inc. By permission of the publisher. Visit World Book Encyclopedia for more information on Ayn Rand and related subjects.

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The American Novel