Ayn Rand was a famous writer who developed a philosophy of her own and used both fiction and non-fiction writing to promote and popularize her philosophy. Her philosophy was called Objectivism. The general tenet of Objectivism is that the pursuit of one’s own happiness should be the highest moral goal of an individual. This article highlights some of her fictional works.
Night of January 16th
Night of January 16th is a theatrical play by Ayn Rand written in 1933. It was first produced in 1934 in Los Angeles under the title Woman on Trial. The play’s title was changed many times, as Rand had initially titled it Penthouse Legend but it was changed to The Verdict by the production team led by E.E Clive but on the night of its premiere, it was called Woman on Trial.
Later when the play was taken to Broadway, Rand was given the option to choose from two titles The Black Sedan and Night of January 16th. Rand said she hated both titles but eventually chose the latter. In 1968, Rand published an edited version of the script and maintained the title Night of January 16th because according to her, the title was already too well known to be changed.
Night of January 16th is a courtroom drama about a woman, Karen Andre who was on trial for killing her employer, Bjorn Faulkner a business tycoon who defrauded his company to make another investment but went bankrupt.
Bjorn Faulkner and Karen Andre were together in the Faulkner Penthouse on the night of January the 16th when Faulkner fell to his death. The prosecutor Mr. Flint and the defense attorney Mr. Stevens make their cases with testimonies from several witnesses.
An interesting thing about the play is that the jury is chosen from the audience and whatever verdict they pass determines the ending of the play. There are two alternate endings to the play. First, if the jury finds Karen Andre not guilty, she thanks them. If found guilty, she defiantly says that the jury has saved her from committing suicide. It was a play that proved Ayn Rand’s unique style of storytelling.
We the Living
Published in 1936, it is Ayn Rand’s first full-length novel. We the Living focuses on three individuals who dare to be independent-minded in the face of the communist dictatorship of Soviet Russia. The heroine, Kira Arguonova, an aspiring engineer from a bourgeois family, and her love triangle with two men: Leo Kovalesnsky, the aristocrat whom she loves, and Andrei Taganov, the communist who loves her. Kira gets expelled from engineering school because of her novel ideas and Leo, also a brilliant scholar realizes he has no future in Russia because of his rich family background and independent thinking.
Andrei is the idealist man who believes in the virtues of the Communist principles and supports the Bolsheviks Revolution but later begins to question all his beliefs when society treats Kira unjustly.
A dystopian novella about a brave young man who brakes the shackles of a totalitarian dictatorship to assert his individuality, find love and make an invention.
Anthem centers on a hero called Equality 7-2521 who lives in a dystopian society where citizens cannot speak, eat or sleep without the government’s permission. The population grows from an impersonal mating ritual where people engage in intercourse with partners assigned to them by the state and give birth to children who are separated from their parents at birth and raised without personal identity. It is in such an extremely collectivist society that Equality 7-2521 commits the greatest crime of thinking and acting alone and is forced to escape the city as his actions put his life in danger.
This novel gave Ayn Rand her first major success in fiction writing. Published in 1943, Rand sold the script of The Fountainhead at Fifty Thousand dollars. The novel is about a genius challenging conformity and mediocrity as he paves his way in the field of Architecture. It follows Howard Roark who gets expelled from architectural school for his novel ideas and creativity. Undaunted, he pursues his vision and refuses to compromise in the face of betrayal from the woman he loves and from friends. Howard goes to trial for blowing up a public housing project he designed because of alterations by government bureaucrats without his consent.
Dominique Franon a woman who loves Howard with her life but betrays him by marrying his worst enemy; Ellsworth Toohey, a Marxist intellectual; Peter Keating, a brilliant architect who follows conventions and bends to the will of others, are all interesting characters that add to the brilliance of the novel.
The novel glorifies original creators and inventors in history and how these brilliant creators are often attacked by traditional worshiping society. The idea of individualism and collectivism in The Fountainhead is more complex than political, in that individuals have the leisure of free will and can choose to be freethinkers or conformists.
Published in 1957, and set in the United States at an unspecified time, it is the last novel by Ayn Rand. In Atlas Shrugged, great entrepreneurs and innovators go on strike in protest against the government dictatorship that exploits them to favor the unproductive majority of the masses. Rand described the theme of this novel as the “role of man’s mind in existence.”
Railroad executive, Danny Taggart who runs a company as a vice president to her brother who is not as business savvy as her, meets Hank Rearden, a steel magnate who she falls in love with despite his being married. They all discover that a mysterious figure known as John Galt is persuading business owners to abandon their businesses in protest against the state.
Dagny’s plane crashes on an island where she discovers John Galt and through a series of events, Galt follows Dagny to New York from his hiding place called the Galt’s Gulch and hacks into a national radio broadcast where he delivers a three-hour speech that projects the theme of the novel. The government eventually collapses after failing to force John Galt to lead the restoration of the country under the collectivist government. Galt triumphantly announces that the strikers can rejoin society on their own terms.
What are two of Ayn Rand’s most famous books?
Two of Ayn Rand’s most famous works are The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.
The Fountainhead was published in 1943, it is a novel about the interplay of individuality, creativity, conformity, love, and betrayal as a genius called Howard Roark makes his way in the field of Architecture.
Atlas Shrugged is about an economy where business owners abandon their businesses in protest of an unjust government that exploits the rich minority to serve the unproductive majority. Atlas Shrugged is regarded as Ayn Rand’s masterpiece and it was the last novel she wrote.
What is Ayn Rand’s philosophy?
Ayn Rand’s philosophy is called Objectivism. The philosophy is generally anchored on the idea of an individual as the paramount being and advocates for the economic and political freedom of the individual through laissez-faire capitalism.
What year did Ayn Rand’s Anthem appear in the United States?
Ayn Rand’s Anthem appeared in the United States in the year 1946. The novella was written in 1937 and first published in England in 1938 by Cassell Publishers while American publishers rejected the manuscripts. But after the success of Ayn Rand’s 1943 novel The Fountainhead, Rand revised the manuscript of Anthem and it was published in 1946 by Pamphleteers Inc, a publishing house owned by her friends.
Is Ayn Rand primarily a novelist or a philosopher?
Ayn Rand is both a novelist and a philosopher, she wrote three novels, developed a philosophical idea of her own called Objectivism, and wrote over four non-fiction books on philosophy.
The response to this question in Ayn Rand’s own words is
“I am often asked whether I am primarily a novelist or a philosopher. The answer is: both. In a certain sense, every novelist is a philosopher, because one cannot present a picture of human existence without a philosophical framework;…
In order to define, explain and present my concept of man, I had to become a philosopher in the specific meaning of the term.”