Ayn Rand was born on this day in 1905

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AYN (eyn)

Russian born American philosopher and novelist

Common clue: "Atlas Shrugged" author Rand; Author Rand of "The Fountainhead"; First name in objectivism

Crossword puzzle frequency: 3 times a year

News: Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged and the Obama Economy

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Ayn Rand (February 2, 1905 – March 6, 1982), born Alissa "Alice" Zinovievna Rosenbaum, was a popular and controversial American philosopher and novelist, best known for her philosophy of Objectivism and her novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Her philosophy and her fiction both emphasize, above all, her concepts of individualism, egoism, "rational self-interest", and capitalism. Her novels were based upon the archetype of the Randian hero, a man whose ability and independence leads others to reject him, but who perseveres nevertheless to achieve his values. Rand viewed this hero as the ideal and made it the express goal of her literature to showcase such heroes. She believed:

1. That man must choose his values and actions by reason;

2. That the individual has a right to exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing self to others nor others to self; and

3. That no one has the right to seek values from others by physical force, or impose ideas on others by physical force.

Rand was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and was the eldest of three daughters of a Jewish family. She studied philosophy and history at the University of Petrograd. There she took classes with the political theorist Professor Losky, and it was at this time that she first became attracted to Nietzschean views. She then entered the State Institute for Cinema Arts in 1924 to study screenwriting; in late 1925, however, she was granted a visa to visit American relatives. She arrived in the United States in February 1926, at the age of twenty-one. After a brief stay with her relatives in Chicago, she resolved never to return to the Soviet Union, and set out for Los Angeles to become a screenwriter. She then changed her name to "Ayn Rand", partly to avoid Soviet retaliation against her family for her political views (she assumed her name would appear in the credits of films with an anti-Communist message, attracting the attention of Soviet officials). There is a story told that she named herself after the Remington Rand typewriter, but recent evidence has proved that this is not the case. In Barbara Branden's The Passion of Ayn Rand, Ayn Rand's first name is said to have come from the name of a Finnish writer whom she had not read, but whose name she liked and adopted. The book also has a quotation from Ayn's cousin in which she claims to have been present when Ayn chose the name Rand from a typewriter.

Rand published the book described as her magnum opus, Atlas Shrugged, in 1957. This book, just as The Fountainhead had, became a bestseller. Atlas Shrugged is often seen as Rand's most complete statement of Objectivist philosophy in any of her works of fiction. Along with Nathaniel Branden and his wife Barbara, as well as a handful of others including Alan Greenspan and Leonard Peikoff (jokingly designated "The Collective"), Rand launched the Objectivist movement to promote her philosophy.

Rand's political views were radically anti-communist, anti-statist, and pro-capitalist. Her writings praised above all the human individual and the creative genius of which one is capable. She exalted what she saw as the heroic American values of egoism and individualism. Rand also had a strong dislike for mysticism, religion, and compulsory charity, all of which she believed helped foster a crippling culture of resentment towards individual human happiness, flourishment, and success.

In 1947, during the infamous Red Scare, Rand testified as a "friendly witness" before the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Rand's testimony involved analysis of the 1943 film Song of Russia. Rand argued that the movie grossly misrepresented the socioeconomic conditions in the Soviet Union. She told the committee that the film presented life in the USSR as being much better than it actually was. Apparently this 1943 film was intentional wartime propaganda by U.S. patriots, trying to put their Soviet allies in World War II under the best possible light. After the HUAC hearings, when Ayn Rand was asked about her feelings on the effectiveness of their investigations, she described the process as "futile."

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Ayn Rand".