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Friends don’t let friends read Rand

Friends don’t let friends read Rand

Based on the perhaps mistaken assumption that some of our readers will care what Flannery O’Connor, whose Catholicism deeply influenced her writing, thought of Ayn Rand, whose writing is currently in favor with conservative Catholic politicians, we offer the following from Open Culture:

In a letter dated May 31, 1960, Flannery O’Connor, the author best known for her classic story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find” (listen to her read the story here) penned a letter to her friend, the playwright Maryat Lee. It begins rather abruptly, likely because it’s responding to something Maryat said in a previous letter:

“I hope you don’t have friends who recommend Ayn Rand to you. The fiction of Ayn Rand is as low as you can get re fiction. I hope you picked it up off the floor of the subway and threw it in the nearest garbage pail. She makes Mickey Spillane look like Dostoevsky.”

Rand, ironically, was a fan of Spillane’s.

In her book The Romantic Manifesto, Rand put Spillane in some unexpected company when she wrote: “[Victor] Hugo gives me the feeling of entering a cathedral–Dostoevsky gives me the feeling of entering a chamber of horrors, but with a powerful guide–Spillane gives me the feeling of listening to a military band in a public park–Tolstoy gives me the feeling of an unsanitary backyard which I do not care to enter.” All of which goes to show that Ayn Rand’s literary taste was no better than her literature.


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George Clifford

I’m concerned that the advice, “friends don’t let friends read Rand,” verges on political correctness. We should encourage people to read those with whom we disagree, confident that in the discourse that follows we can both learn. I strongly disagree with Rand, but have assigned her work in ethics classes that I have taught to illustrate the moral bankruptcy of individualism. Political correctness with its implied censorship of self or others impoverishes us (cf. my Ethical Musings post on Bowdoin College no longer recognizing the Bowdoin Christian Fellowship, a group with which I have strong disagreements –

Michael Russell

Rand would be rolling in her grave to see the fusion of her thought with Conservative Christianity. I guess being a proud atheist libertine does not disqualify your ideas for such Christians. But, then again, few of them are first hand people.

Gregory Orloff

I never have understood how anyone could read Ayn Rand and take her seriously if he or she has read the Gospels in the New Testament and taken them seriously. The two visions of life, values, priorities they present are diametrically opposed.

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