Sunday, November 11, 2012

Novelist and Philosopher

Ayn Rand Explained

Ayn Rand Explained 

by Ronald E. Merrill

Revised and Updated by Marsha Familaro Enright

"Do not lose your knowledge that man's proper estate is an upright posture an intransigent mind, and a step that travels limitless roads.
... Do not let your fire go out, spark by irreplaceable spark.  In the hopeless swamp of the bot quite, the not yet, and the not at all, do not let the hero in your soul perish and leave only the frustration for the life you deserved, but never have been able to reach. . . . The world you desire can be won, it exists, it is real, it is possible, it is yours." - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged, p 993.

The title tells it all.  Marsha Familaro Enright's revision and update of Ronald E. Merrill's book provides an explanation and an overview to the life and thought of Ayn Rand.  The author demonstrates a substantial breadth of knowledge about Ayn Rand and her work.  In addition to the overview of Ayn Rand and her work the author presents examples of people in many different walks of life that have been influenced by Ayn Rand's thought along with a brief history of the growth of Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism.
As someone who has read most of Ayn Rand's fiction and non-fiction I was impressed with the depth of understanding and the insights of the author.  She compares Ayn Rand's fiction with examples of other authors when relevant and explains clearly the development of the philosophical outlook represented by the characters in Rand's major works.   She also presents some of the common criticisms of Ayn Rand's philosophical views in lucid prose that makes clear the nature of the issues and the power of  Rand's ideas to refute them when they are properly understood.  Above all, her presentation and discussion of the ideas and the views of critics of Ayn Rand show a reasonableness that demonstrates the true nature of Objectivist thought and honors her subject.  This approach was refreshing and all too rare in an age when irrationality is held as the norm by many.
Ultimately, any explanation of Ayn Rand must focus on the power of ideas.  These are presented clearly here and the reader is encouraged to read her work and think for himself about the value of those ideas.  The nature of Ayn Rand's ideas is presented in a way that I found engaging and hopeful.  I believe that readers both new to Rand and those who have read much of her work will benefit from the insights provided in Ayn Rand Explained.   

Ayn Rand Explained by Ronald E. Merrill, Revised and Updated by Marsha Familaro Enright.  Open Court Publishing, 2013. 

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