All the Girls Wanna Be Like Ayn

|

Via Arts & Letters Daily, a long exegesis by Amy Benfer on what Ayn Rand means to girls.

It's easy enough to explain Rand's appeal to those who adore capitalism, abhor government intervention, and prize individual liberty above all. But the particularly fascinating thing about Rand is that many young women, like Gottlieb, revere the book as teenagers and later come to loathe – or at least laugh at – the novels as adults. In the 2003 movie Lost In Translation, Charlotte, played by Scarlett Johansson, says that every girl goes through a "horse phase" and a "photography phase, where, you know, you take dumb pictures of your feet." For a certain kind of American girl, the "Ayn Rand phase" is another rite of passage.

It's more personal essay than reportage, but it's a good read.

NEXT: Ron Paul Hatches Clever Plot to Lower the Cost of Campaign Fliers

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I wouldn’t say it’s a girl thing–everyone has a friend who read Atlas Shrugged freshman year of college and turned into a dick for six months. Hell, lots of us were that guy

  2. Or to be more realistic, every teenager goes through a worshipful phase where they psychologically need idols. The mark of maturity is when one realizes that the feces of one’s idol stink just as much as everyone else’s.

  3. Rand’s appeal is pretty obvious: Selfishness, despite what hundreds of thousands of years of collective wisdom have taught us, is actually a virtue!

    I guess it’s equally obvious why this appeal wears off for most people.

  4. damaged justice,

    That’s about right.

  5. The extent to which people go out of their way to disparage Ayn Rand on this particular website never ceases to amaze me.

  6. I don’t know. My feelings about Rand are analogous to my feelings about Niels Bohr. Sure the failings of the Bohr atom were so obvious it was “dead on arrival”. However, it was a radical new approach that was clearly needed and far superior to all existing alternatives. Best of all, it formed the foundation of much great work that followed.

  7. She said she doesn’t remember much about The Fountainhead, other than that it was given to her by someone with whom she was “very smitten” and also that it had something “vaguely to do with architecture.” But, she said, “It had to be that book. The poem wouldn’t have worked with any other one.”

    Nuff said. What a load of crap.

  8. The funniest part about that scene in Lost in Translation was watching it with a girl who had just posted pictures of her feet on her blog.

    She literally did a “Ha ha ha……HEY!”

  9. Until my Dad recomended that I read The Fountainhead when I was about 18 or so, I had assumed that it was something that young “alternative” chicks were into. Kind of like the Bell Jar or something.

  10. If it weren’t for her sycophants, more of her output might be palatable. Wait, who am I kidding?

  11. “The extent to which people go out of their way to disparage Ayn Rand on this particular website never ceases to amaze me.”

    you ain’t seen nothing yet!

    seriously, if people aren’t going to respect l. ron hubbard or osho rajneesh, why would they respect rand? at least osho was funny. (seriously, dude was a laff riot, and not just because of his ‘a disciple is an asshole in search of a human host’ remark)

  12. When it comes to Rand, the majority of comments posted on H&R are the intellectual equivalent of scribbling a moustache on the Mona Lisa. Adolescent pranks from permanently dwarfed minds.

  13. everyone has a friend who read Atlas Shrugged freshman year of college and turned into a dick for six months. Hell, lots of us were that guy

    Judging by the comments of ed and Eric S., some of us still are.

  14. When it comes to Rand, the majority of comments posted on H&R are the intellectual equivalent of scribbling a moustache on the Mona Lisa. Adolescent pranks from permanently dwarfed minds.

    Rand wrote overwrought, pseudo-intellectual silliness and stole (*ahem*…’borrowed’) many of her ideas from other people.

    Still, she was a keen and great influence and I acknowledge that wholeheartedly. But she was not any more than that.

    All fanatics are, by definition, selfish and intolerant of others. She and her legion of sycophants are testament to that. Her singular virtue is that at least she’s open about it.

  15. I found Ayn Rand to be totally unreadable.Like bad romance fiction.

    Libertarian fiction? Give me Heinlein.

    Probably offends all the peace creeps around here though.

  16. All the girls want to be addicted to caffeine and nicotine and dexedrine, right?

    It makes you a good and productive capitalist citizen.

  17. Probably offends all the peace creeps around here though.

    I like Heinlein much better than Rand as well. Why wouldn’t I like him, just because he has a military superhero fantasy? He did write A Stranger In A Strange Land, after all.

  18. Hey, I love 40 page soliloquies, blatant rape fantasies, utopian societies based on free energy machines and rejecting violence except where I don’t as much as anyone else, but Ayn is a shit writer.

    For all his flaws (overused ubermensch protagonist, bizarre sexual fetishes, no respect for women) Heinlein is the far better libertarian author. Hell, even Rush did more to promote libertarian ideas in the public sphere than batty old Ayn

  19. “When it comes to Rand, the majority of comments posted on H&R are the intellectual equivalent of scribbling a moustache on the Mona Lisa.”

    you shall have no gods before me.

  20. I’ve never thought of Heinlein as a ‘libertarian’ writer (the very wonderful Starship Troppers pretty much torches that notion), though he is – undeniably – firmly free market and limited government.

    His explanation of economics to the mayor of New Beginnings in Time Enough For Love should be required reading for business majors everywhere.

  21. Alyssa Rosenbaum was indeed a manipulative bitch who rationalized her own hypocrisy at others’ expense. But just as with photography, one can find images which flatter and those which render the subject hideous; plenty of pictures make her look like a bucktoothed hag, but I also own a shirt I made myself with a particularly striking image of AR, which people always ask is “some silent movie star”. And in that vein she was a beautiful, intelligent woman; flawed as any of us imperfect creatures, and at her most beautiful when she enjoyed life and inspired the same in others, instead of succumbing to ugliness.

    “Hitler loved kittens.” So did Rand.

  22. Unfortunately this phase usually includes only the novels. The actual philosophy books don’t get touched and, in the end, Objectivism gets casually judged by the pulp fiction that pre-dates it.

  23. “Libertarian fiction? Give me Heinlein.”

    I was really underwhelmed by Starship Troopers.

  24. The Fountainhead will always have a place in my heart, even if it did help turn me into a dick for a few years. (I was stubborn, and it took more than 6 months for me to decompress) I still think that the ideas in that book are basically right, if a little out of proportion.

  25. As an ex-Heinlein fanboy, you really have to separate his work into two piles. Books like Starship Troopers and Have Space Suit – Will Travel were his “juveniles,” cranked out per his publishing contract and targeted at the adolescent “I wanna be an astronaut” crowd in the 60’s. This isn’t to knock them–they were some of his most endearing stories. As he got older and crankier he busted out full length adult sci-fi and fantasy novels drifting further and further in an anti-authoritarian direction. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is the best example here.

    Don’t read anything past the mid 70’s, or edited and released posthoumously. He had a stroke and was essentially writing from his deathbed, and was kind of a kook

  26. I was really underwhelmed by Starship Troopers.

    Not his best, admittedly…but I still liked it.

  27. Yesterday I attened a biology lecture and the speaker pointed out that individual animals don’t do anything to help the spieces as a whole. and that symbiotic relationships are selfish acts and so I yelled out “I guess nautre reads a lot of Ayn Rand.” Nobody laughed 🙁
    I don’t know. My feelings about Rand are analogous to my feelings about Niels Bohr. Sure the failings of the Bohr atom were so obvious it was “dead on arrival”. However, it was a radical new approach that was clearly needed and far superior to all existing alternatives. Best of all, it formed the foundation of much great work that followed.
    Amen.

  28. I read the article a few days ago on A&L Daily, which seems to post everything written on Rand strangely enough. The article itself is easily more sophomoric than Rand’s work, possessing all the elucidation of a rock skipping out over the lake. Only… PLUNK.

    I also always wonder at people who like to point out that Rand was a “shit writer.” Especially when they praise someone so technically untalented as Heinlein. He after all was even writing in his own language.

    Rand is CLEARLY the better craftsman in her use of metaphor, sentence structure, plot layering, references, use of detail to illuminate character, use of symbol, and all the while consistently holding the attention of the reader to a rather complex, idea laden story. Heinlein is a good sci fi writer, don’t get me wrong, but he is not revolutionary in terms of nose snubbing literary art. Not even close to Rand in that as a matter of fact. Frankly, I also think if you are going to call anyone a shit writer, you should accompany your judgement with what might be considered good writing.

    Now, were we to compare Rand to say Joyce in terms of technical talent, obviously Stephen Daedelus wins. But as for the plot in the Wake and that in Atlas, I think Rand may win. Of course, their projects are different.

    The article this silly woman attempted is still waiting to be written. Maybe next time she should try spending more than a day on it.

    As for my personal standard of great writing- John Gardner, William Faulkner, and Shelby Foote. Among this company, I estimate Rand as a fairly good, though not great, writer.

  29. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is the best example here.

    Always a sucker for Stranger In A Strange Land, myself. The aforementioned Time Enough For Love, too.

  30. Rand would have richly benefited from the assistance of a good editor. I still remember wincing at the last page of The Fountainhead–after going on for hundreds of pages about how decoration and frills are downright dangerous to the cause of liberty, she has Dominique going to visit Howard at work–a high-rise construction site–and when she rides up that makeshift plank elevator hundreds of feet in the sky she’s wearing high heels.

    I have no opposition to decorations at all, yet I’d say walking on the girders of a high-rise construction zone is one place where you really should wear sensible shoes.

  31. Rand would have richly benefited from the assistance of a good editor.

    Didn’t she have a reputation for being notoriously hostile to anyone who tried to edit her work.

    I seem to remember something about her script for The Fountainhead where she had some sort of ‘no edit’ clause in her contract.

  32. Rand a good writer? Don’t make me laugh. A screeching harpy attempting to shove a polemic down her suffering readers’ throats.

    Heinlein, for all his reported hackwork, did at least have the integrity to explore different viewpoints and the fallacies that any One Truth could fall into. And yeah, Moon is a Harsh Mistress is fantastic.

  33. PR was talking about prose style, Grumpy. And although a lot of her stuff was overwrought, Rand could turn a phrase well.

  34. No wait, it’s intellectually dwarfed CRIMINAL minds.

  35. Warren,

    This is so cool! My feelings about Ayn Rand are analogous to my feelings about the Bohr atom too! I guess we’re both pretentious assholes!

  36. “Not his best, admittedly…but I still liked it.”

    I enjoyed it for what it was- fun sci-fi with a (for the time) new concept- the battle mech.

    But I found the socio-political ideas quite thin. Which annoyed me, because I know a lot of middle-aged men who point to Starship Troopers as having a great philosophical message.

    “Didn’t she have a reputation for being notoriously hostile to anyone who tried to edit her work.”

    I’ve heard rumors that she wanted to include an uncut version of The Speech in any movie version of Atlas Shrugged.

  37. When I said battle mech, I meant powered armor suit.

  38. I should apologize for enjoying the dissing of the “Ayn-atollah.”

    I should, but I won’t.

    Seriously, I understand that a lot of people came to libertarianism through her writing. I did not. I was sold by the non-aggression principle. Rand is pretty meaningless to me. Most of the people I knew at the age when one reads her who recommended her seemed to have had all humor and empathy sucked out of them. For the sake of this chick I hung out with because she took me for rides on her motorcycle, I did try reading her once. I found the prose to be even worse than Heinlein, even clunkier than Rush lyrics. In literature, I value good writing above good ideas.

    Thanks for the excuse to dis Heinlein, Rush, and Rand in one fell swoop. It felt pretty good. Gawd, I hate sacred cows.

  39. Ayn Rand and James Michener had one thing in common: Both were good writers who could have been great given a tough editor with a huge supply of red pencils.

  40. highnumber,

    Big money got no soul.

    –Geddy

  41. Highnumber:

    “Gawd, I hate sacred cows”

    mmmm. Stilton Burger.

    this citizen seconds your motion!

  42. I guess nautre reads a lot of Ayn Rand.

    Yeah that must be some kind of inside joke or something.

    Seriously, for distopian socialist realism I don’t think it gets any better than A Clockwork Orange. That shit happens on a daily basis in England today, except they have cellphones to record it. I would rather read Thus Spoke Zarathustra because all the ideas in Fountainhead are ripped off from there anyway.

    If you liked Atlas Shrugged, I would suggest the writings of Dr. Timothy Leary. He made that shit work in real life. The only reason it has a bad name is that Rand turned the idea into a delusional tweaker fantasy.

    It never ceases to amaze me how much impact that woman has had on this country’s government, economy, currency, it’s like some kind of bizarre cult! Who knew?

  43. Rand is a huge influence on the libertarian movement, and there is simply no getting around that. To people who approach libertarianism from a more left-leaning (peacenik) direction, I can understand the emotional disdain toward the content of her work.

    That said, her continual use of the autodidactic superheroes who can seemingly do amazing things all by themselves seems more and more juvenile as I get older. The people who really make this world go ’round are those who effectively work with, manage, and inspire others to greatness. Most modern human work is too complex to be performed by one person, and the Howard Roarks of the world end up being little more than useless pain-in-the-asses who contribute far less than they could to the finished product.

    Regardless, Rand is, at the least, one of most fascinating people that the USA has produced, and her tangle of arrogance, talent, self-loathing, and twisted sexuality cannot be ignored.

  44. “All The Girls Want To Be Like Ayn”

    You mean talk tough game but secretly desire to be dominated my a burly man?

  45. “All The Girls Want To Be Like Ayn”

    I do know a LOT of women who want to be like Ayn. Most of them are not very honest with themselves.

  46. You mean talk tough game but secretly desire to be dominated my a burly man?

    You worthless pathetic piece of shit. You have FIVE MINUTES to dominate me like a real man, and if I’m not dominated by then I’ll fucking emasculate you. START DOMINATING ME YOU MISERABLE WORM!! And stop cowering like that. Fucking pussy.

  47. “Regardless, Rand is, at the least, one of most fascinating people that the USA has produced”

    Wouldn’t that be “that Russia has produced”? She didn’t move here until she was 21.

  48. According to Ayn Rand, Roark has the right to blow up a building that he designed but didn’t pay for the building of. Nor the materials used. Nor did he pay for the land.

    Somehow, I think that’s taking claims of intellectual property just a wee bit too far….

    Didn’t it also come out later in her life that although Ayn kept banging the drum for Aristotle, she had to confess she had never actually read most of what he had written?

  49. mmmm. Stilton Burger.

    BBQ USA has a great recipe for a bleu/blue(?) cheese burgers!
    You mash up the cheese with butter and build a pat of the mash inside each burger. The cheese greets you when you bite in and it oozes out all over the bun.
    In the summer I make 2 lbs of burgers at a time like that and keep them in the freezer ready to grill.

  50. Rand is CLEARLY the better craftsman in her use of metaphor, sentence structure, plot layering, references, use of detail to illuminate character, use of symbol, and all the while consistently holding the attention of the reader to a rather complex, idea laden story.

    I think I must have a different version of Atlas Shrugged than you do.

  51. Selfishness, despite what hundreds of thousands of years of collective wisdom have taught us, is actually a virtue!

    So you’re a conservative now?

  52. “Regardless, Rand is, at the least, one of most fascinating people that the USA has produced”

    Wouldn’t that be “that Russia has produced”? She didn’t move here until she was 21.

    Russia produced Alissa Rosenbaum, but Ayn Rand is a uniquely American creation.

  53. that’s a tasty burger!

  54. ’tis!

  55. So, for those of us ignorami (is that the plural of ignoramus?)who haven’t read Ayn Rand, if you had to read one of her books, which would you recommend? I willingly admit to not knowing a damn thing about her except what I read on this blog. Oh, the shame.

  56. Start with “Anthem.” It’s pretty short but should give you a good idea of whether you’ll like to read more of Rand or not.

  57. You might also consider starting with her non-fiction, in which case I’d say The Virtue of Selfishness is the place to start.

  58. Start with “Anthem.” It’s pretty short but should give you a good idea of whether you’ll like to read more of Rand or not.

    Good idea, Graphite…but I’m going to go one better and suggest you can end with Anthem, too.

  59. Nah, start with “We The Living.” It’s her first and least demanding, but a fine read all the same. No long speeches to confuse the nitwits, and all the sex is consensual (as it is in all her novels, contrary jibes by the peanut gallery notwithstanding).

  60. Yeah, poisoning people against Rand before they even encounter her is important in maintaining the “pop philosophy for teenagers” image.

  61. Thanks, people. So much stuff in the world out there to read…so little time!

  62. madpad,

    I was going to say that “if you had to read one Ayn Rand…”, you should appeal on the grounds that it’s cruel & unusual punishment, but I thought that I should lay off.

  63. poisoning people against Rand before they even encounter her is important in maintaining the “pop philosophy for teenagers” image.

    It’s David Weigel’s fault for not putting DON’T READ THIS UNLESS YOU’RE ALREADY FAMILIAR WITH MS. RAND’S WORKS at the top of the comment thread. Because people who have not yet read Ayn Rand need to be protected from those mean scary people who read her works and were not impressed.

  64. need to be protected from those mean scary people who read her works and were not impressed

    Not to mention the clueless halfwits who wouldn’t know a syllogism from a salami.

  65. I promise to not be overly impressed. 😉 Just sick of feeling like an idiot every time her stuff’s discussed on H&R ’cause I haven’t read anything by her yet. Crap, sometimes I wonder if ya’ll do anything BUT read–how’s a person s’posed to keep up? 😉 You should have a reading list for club H&R. 😉

  66. “poisoning people against Rand before they even encounter her ”

    dude, lots of people believe, for example, that nietzche was an anti-semite, or a nazi, even though neither of those statements are remotely true. though this may poison people against his work – for the wrong reasons – people still read nietzche. and people still read rand, perhaps for many of the same reasons. (The same teenagers who might think they’re the oppressed individualist artist might also think they’re the superman unbound, were it not for their parents, society, etc…)

    another difference being people cover nietzche in philosophy departments.

    rand’s nonfiction always struck me as someone who had read stirner but didn’t realize there were funny bits interspersed between the polemical masterstrokes.

    if someone’s going to will to power all over my face, i want a few giggles here and there, you know?

  67. I Hate Family Law, if you don’t have time to read The Fountainhead yourself, here’s the Cliff’s-noted version of it (which I plagiarized from my own fucking blog. Sue me).

    1. People who design or live in buildings with decorative flourishes like Greek columns or Victorian moldings are evil freedom-hating statists.

    2. A rich babe who inherits all her money from her father is the best person in the world to criticize people who are poor because they never do anything to earn money.

    3. Lots of women are poor because the dumb sluts keep having kids they can’t afford. However, when babelicious heiresses have sex without contraceptives back in the days before abortion was legal they never get pregnant anyway so this doesn’t apply to them.

    4. If you can afford it, you should buy a beautiful, irreplaceable piece of art and then destroy it, because most of the people who would otherwise look at it don’t deserve to look at it the way you do.

    5. Although it has already been established that unnecessary decorations destroy freedom, when a wealthy heiress marries a sexy architect and then visits her husband at work on the last page of the book, she should wear high-heeled shoes to the high-rise construction site. (In case you were wondering, wearing high heels on a makeshift board elevator going hundreds of feet up in the sky is perfectly safe so long as you “plant your high heels firmly on the board,” as the book describes.)

    This is no way contradicts the “form over function” meme of the rest of the book.

    6. Here is how to have a healthy, rational sex life. First, get yourself raped by a guy whose name you don’t know although you two will eventually marry. (Your role models here are Luke and Laura on ancient General Hospital reruns.) Later, agree to have sex with a newspaper magnate, but tell him that you will not enjoy it one bit. This will challenge him to try things that will actually arouse you.

    By the way, while you read this you must not think “Hmm, I’m detecting a theme here. The woman never has to know how to actually do anything, bedsportwise. Think about it: lying there like a corpse, beating a guy with your fists-neither one requires much in the way of sophistication, though under the right circumstances they can be portrayed as such.”

    Corollary: even if God forbid you’re depraved enough to notice such themes, and detect a clash with what you know of Rand’s personal life, do not allow yourself to envision somebody with a Natasha Fatale accent saying to her husband: “”Listen, you altruistic marry-me-so-I’m-not-deported vool, I vant you to dominate and subdue me like a real man. Right now! If you don’t vorce me to surrender to your superior male vill in ten minutes I’ll vucking emasculate you. Stop cowering!”

    Second corollary: at least don’t picture her husband looking like Boris Badenov.

    7. Never say anything in one page if you can stretch it out to seventy. No, wait, that’s from Atlas Shrugged.

  68. “if someone’s going to will to power all over my face, i want a few giggles here and there…”

    ohnoes, dhex! Yesterday it was Lifetime, and now you’re getting all…. all… Bukakespohia???

    Say it ain’t so!!! ohnoes!

  69. dude, it’s lifetime bukake!

    “NOT WITHOUT MY COLLECTIVISM!!!”

  70. And between yours and the Smacky’s post #69, today is a toss up on H&R. So Stevo wins.

  71. Jennifer, that was freakin’ hilarious!

  72. ANOTHER thread about Rand?!!! Was, Is, Will always Be irrellevant, misleading, and just short of fascist flag-waving apologetics for the priveledged elite. If only there was this much attention given to real issues of society instead of this class-biased drivel.

  73. “NOT WITHOUT MY COLLECTIVISM!!!”

    Shouldn’t that be “COLLECTIVJISM”?

  74. Jennifer, that was the funniest description of that book I’ve ever read. 100 bonus points for the “Luke and Laura” reference, too. (I watched all those when they first aired. I’m feeling really ancient right now.)

  75. Spot-on synopsis, Jennifer! That was beauty-ful.

    I must confess to a Randite phase as a HS senior/college freshman. Once I even spotted a flyer for an Ayn Rand Club (or whatever it was called) meeting, under which some wise soul had scrawled something like, “Please, silly underclassmen, if you’re tempted, don’t go. It’s a phase; it will wear off.” I’m ashamed to admit that I scribbled some defensive true-believer retort whose details I have mercifully forgotten. It was a pretty lonely two years, and it wore off once I succumbed to the lure of the doob. Besides, there were no cute Objectivist boys.

    (Aside to ihatefamilylaw: I love your name. It’s my fate too for now, and while I don’t hate FL, I rather dislike it.)

  76. Perhaps I should add that I was introduced to Rand by a jerky older guy who lent me The Fountainhead. Much like Dirty Dancing.

  77. I don’t claim any real knowledge of Rand’s philosophical stuff, but here’s the word on the street:

    * She criticizes big names when it’s painfully clear she’s never even read them, much less carefully, much less with understanding.

    * She doesn’t support her positions with arguments (like a philosopher). She supports them with rhetoric (like a sophist).

  78. I agree with Dave that her collections of essays weren’t argued as philosophy.

    But going beyond the word on the street, doubters should take a look at Rand’s “Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology.” My understanding is that an evaluation of ITOE is what led to the American Philosophical Association’s recognition of Objectivism as a legitimate area of scholarship for researchers and college students.

  79. I always felt Rand reads like a bad reinterpretation of Nietzsche after having been mangled by Lacanists.

  80. In the sequel, Roark blows up the Parthenon.

  81. I don’t claim any real knowledge of Rand’s philosophical stuff

    But you have an opinion anyway. Oh, wait, you have someone else’s opinion. Classic.

  82. Saying Rand is a shit writer for “borrowing” ideas from others ,mainly Aristotle, is like saying Einstein is a shit scientist for “borrowing” from Isaac Newton. We all stand on the shoulders of our ancestors. “Atlas Shrugged” is the second most published book in history. If it’s so shitty think about how REALLY shitty the first is. Oh, by the way, that’s the Bible.

  83. But you have an opinion anyway. Oh, wait, you have someone else’s opinion. Classic.

    Yeah, ed, I’m sorry, but I form opinions on the basis of available evidence. When all the people in the philosophy profession I know, including those who used to be into Rand as teenagers, agree on these points, then I tend to suspect there might be something to it. When every Randian I’ve ever run into harbors obscene misrepresentations of e.g. Kant or Hume, then I gain a little confidence. If I ever want to have really strong confidence, then I’ll spend a lot of time slogging through Rand’s ouevre, to see whether Rand has been tragically misunderstood or whether she’s a purveyor of hogshit.

    bill, I’ll go on record as saying the Bible is very very shitty. Is that a controversial opinion around here?

  84. Dave, you’re right. There’s a lot of stuff out there which shows how badly Rand misinterpreted the philosophers she was supposedly such an expert in. (And the nuttiness of her lifestyle and what happened to her group–I could compare her and her group to any other cult formed around a charismatic character.)

    I’m also taking that “second most published book” statistic with a huge grain of salt.

  85. Well, okay, she had her flaws as a writer and thinker. And of course she was a little self-delusional. But she created works of fiction that went against the trend at the time – th realist school. She created novels of ideas where abstractions were made flesh. And they were interesting reads that engaged minds just starting to engage ideas. She got the ball rolling for me, at least.

    To create that kind of fiction, ideas written with great clarity, if not wholly original or sophisticated, is not an easy task. Consider a lesser writer like Michael Crichton. His characters are also a bit one-dimensional, the prose is hackneyed or wooden, and the science is not always spot on. Yet, I enjoy his books. And I like thinking about and arguing over the ideas he brings up. Besides, I have to ask myself, “what have I done?” if I start feeling too superior when reading one of his books.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.