Journals of Ayn Rand

Edited by David Harriman

Journals of Ayn Rand cover How did Ayn Rand craft the massively complex, inevitable, yet surprising climax of Atlas Shrugged? How did she work out the motives of the sharply drawn heroes and villains of her novels? By what steps did she come to her radical ethical view? What kind of thinking was required to originate a new system of philosophy?

Readers curious about Ayn Rand’s intellectual and literary development can learn much from Journals of Ayn Rand. The book is an extensive selection of notes that Miss Rand wrote, across the span of decades, for her own clarity.

Journals indicates the diligent research and planning that Ayn Rand undertook in preparation for writing her best-selling novels. There are also notes on several earlier fiction projects and on an unfinished novel, “To Lorne Deiterling,” that she started planning after finishing Atlas Shrugged.

The book features Ayn Rand’s informal “thinking on paper”—her scrupulous commitment to identify her own philosophic views, scrutinize them objectively, and grasp the truth with precision. We can observe her identifying philosophic questions to answer, and her progressively more precise answers to those questions.

As she worked on The Fountainhead, for example, we can observe her defining—and re-defining more clearly—the fundamental contrast between “second-handed” characters like Peter Keating, and “first-handed” men such as the hero of the novel, Howard Roark. Critiquing her own draft of a book-in-progress on her ethical views, Ayn Rand notes: “Chapter I should begin by stating the axiom. Then define man’s nature. Then ask [AR interrupts her thought, crossing out the preceding two words]. Or—begin by asking whether a moral code is necessary? Prove that it is—for a rational being.” The editor of Journals observes further down the page, “Here we see Ayn Rand grasping the crucial point that ethics begins by asking not “What are the right values?” but rather “Why are values necessary?”

What comes across in Journals is the growth of a philosophic pioneer, an edifying exemplar of the method of reason.

Journals also includes Miss Rand’s notes on many points that she did not address elsewhere, such as her identification of significant errors that have plagued the history of philosophy. There are also passages she cut while editing several of her landmark essays, and potential themes for essays that she considered writing. (Of course all these journal entries, written to and for herself, should not be taken as definitive statements of her views.)

Table of Contents

(Softcover; 727 pages)

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