Ayn Rand's long shelf life in American culture.


"This is the only novel of ideas written by an American woman that I can recall….Nothing she has to say is said in a second-rate fashion. You have to think of The Magic Mountain…when you think of The Fountainhead." --Lorine Pruette, The New York Times Book Review (1943)

"From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: 'To the gas chambers--go!'….A tornado might feel this way, or Carrie [sic] Nation." --Whittaker Chambers, National Review (1957)

"Atlas Shrugged is a celebration of life and happiness. Justice is unrelenting. Creative individuals and undeviating purpose and rationality achieve joy and fulfillment. Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should. [The New York Times reviewer] suspiciously wonders 'about a person who sustains such a mood through the writing of 1,168 pages and some fourteen years of work.' This reader wonders about a person who finds unrelenting justice personally disturbing." --Alan Greenspan, future chairman of the Federal Reserve, responding to a negative review of Atlas Shrugged, in The New York Times (1957)

"It's all great, Hef! Except…do you really think our readers will dig a nude fold-out of Ayn Rand?" --"Hefner and His Pals," a comic strip in Mad magazine (1967)

"Like most of my contemporaries, I first read The Fountainhead when I was 18 years old. I loved it. I too missed the point. I thought it was a book about a strong-willed architect…and his love life….I deliberately skipped over all the passages about egoism and altruism. And I spent the next year hoping I would meet a gaunt, orange-haired architect who would rape me. Or failing that, an architect who would rape me. Or failing that, an architect. I am certain that The Fountainhead did a great deal more for architects than Architectural Forum ever dreamed." --Nora Ephron, The New York Times Book Review (1968)

"He spent several days deciding on the artifacts [that would be found with his dead body]….He would be found lying on his back, on his bed, with a copy of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead (which would prove he had been a misunderstood superman rejected by the masses and so, in a sense, murdered by his scorn) and an unfinished letter to Exxon protesting the cancellation of his gas credit card." --Philip K. Dick, A Scanner Darkly (1977)

"With acknowledgement to the genius of Ayn Rand" --liner notes to the Rush album 2112 (1976)

JENNIFER GREY: You can't just leave [the girl you impregnated].

MAX CANTOR: I could blow a summer hauling toasted bagels just to bail out some little chick who probably balled every guy in the place….Some people count, and some people don't. [pulls The Fountainhead from his pocket] Read it. I think it's a book you'll enjoy. But be sure you return it--I have notes in the margin. --Dirty Dancing, 1987

"Lots of girls fell in love with Definitism because of the erotic power of the books. No one wanted to admit how important the sex was, but let's face it--the books were very erotic. There were all these intrigues going on, all these little girls wanting to satisfy their sexual cravings." --Mary Gaitskill, Two Girls, Fat and Thin (1991)

MARGE: Maggie…likes a bottle of warm milk before nap time.

MS. SINCLAIR: A bottle? Mrs. Simpson, do you know what a baby's saying when she reaches for a bottle?

MARGE: "Ba Ba?"

MS. SINCLAIR: She's saying "I am a leech!" Our aim here is to develop the bottle within.

MARGE: That sounds awfully harsh. --conversation between Marge and the proprietor of the Ayn Rand School for Tots, The Simpsons (1992)

LOUIS: I could have you arrested you….creep. They'd think I put you in jail for beating me up.

JOE: I never hit anyone before, I…

LOUIS: But it'd really be for those decisions. It was like a sex scene in an Ayn Rand novel, huh?

JOE: I hurt you! I'm sorry, Louis. I never hit anyone before, I…

--from Angels in America, by Tony Kushner, conversation between lovers (1992)

"Yes, at first I was happy to be learning how to read. It seemed exciting and magical, but then I read this: Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. I read every last word of this garbage, and because of this piece of shit, I am never reading again." --police officer Barbrady, South Park (1998)

"However completely you think you preside over your own schedule, there are inflexibilities there. Inflexibilities which not even one of Ayn Rand's heroes could do very much about." --William F. Buckley Jr., Miles Gone By: A Literary Autobiography (2004)

"Unlike…any other Marvel [Comics] author, [Spider-Man co-creator Steve] Ditko received plotting credit as early as Amazing Spider-Man #25 (1965), an unprecedented concession that was most likely the result of Ditko's contemporaneous discovery of Ayn Rand's Objectivism, with its hatred of creative dilution and unearned rewards." --Andrew Hultkrans in Give Our Regards to the Atom Smashers!: Writers on Comics (2004)

"The Incredibles…suggests a thorough, feverish immersion in both the history of American comic books and the philosophy of Ayn Rand….Luckily, though, [writer and director Brad] Bird's disdain for mediocrity is not simply ventriloquized through his characters, but is manifest in his meticulous, fiercely coherent approach to animation." --A.O. Scott, The New York Times (2004)