Ideal

Ayn Rand. NAL, $26.95 (256p) ISBN 978-0-451-47555-8
This previously unpublished novel, written in 1934 and rewritten shortly after as a stage play—the script for which is included in this volume—shines light on themes and ideas that would eventually inform The Fountainhead and Rand's other well-known works. Its central character is starlet Kay Gonda, a Garboesque beauty who is on the lam following the murder of a wealthy oilman acquaintance. In a succession of chapters, Kay seeks refuge with six people (all men) who represent a cross-section of her fan base and a variety of recognizable personality types: an assistant manager of a smalltown business, an illiterate bumpkin, a painter, an evangelical preacher, a rich playboy, and a working-class stiff. Each chapter opens with a fan letter written by one of these characters, and in all but one that character responds to Kay's plight with either outright betrayal of the ideals that he ascribes to her or appropriation of her situation for his own benefit. Although the novel is schematic in the telling, Rand manages to give personality to the stock character types in Kay's orbit, and provides rationales, however flimsy, for their responses to her. Its flaws notwithstanding, this book offers a fascinating glimpse at the nascent philosophy of one of the most provocative intellectuals of the 20th century. Introduction by Leonard Peikoff, founder the Ayn Rand Institute. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/13/2015
Release date: 07/01/2015
Genre: Fiction
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