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    Anne C. Heller, Ayn Rand and the world she made

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    Johnathan R. Razorback
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    Date d'inscription : 12/08/2013
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    Anne C. Heller, Ayn Rand and the world she made

    Message par Johnathan R. Razorback le Lun 15 Mai - 20:30

    "Ayn Rand was born Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum, a Russian Jew, on February, 2, 1905, in St. Petersburg, then the capital city of the most anti-Semitic and politically divided nation of the European continent. Later, she would say that she loathed everything Russian, and while this was not entirely true -she retained her appetite for Russian classical music and Russian sweets until the end of her life- she hated the passivity, brutality, and primitive religiosity of the Russia of her youth." (p.1-2)

    "In these years, it was dangerous to be Jew. As the economy deteriorated and the czar grew more repressive, the brunt of popular anger often fell upon Russia's five million Jews. At Czar Nicholas II's court, as elsewhere in Europe, Jews had long been identified with the supposedly pagan notions of money economy, urbanization, industrialization, and capitalism. Given traditionnal Russian fear of modernity and fierce anti-Semitism, Jews ready-made scapegoats onto whom the czar, the landowners, and the police could easily shift workers' and peasants' ressentment for their poverty and powerlessness.
    For Jews outside the capital city, this period brought the worst anti-Semitic violence since the Middle Ages. In the fall of 1905 alone, when Rand was not quite a year old, there were 690 anti-Jewish pogroms and three thousand Jewish murders
    ." (p.3)

    "[Ayn Rand] was the eldest of three daughters of this upwardly mobile pharmacist and his religiously observant, socially ambitious wife ; Anna would later appear in her daughter's novels as a series of superficial or spiteful characters." (p.4)

    "The intensely thoughful child was not only solitary, but she was also awkward and offbeat. She remembered being aware that her extreme shyness and violent intensity put people off, but she was sure that such social awkwardness was merely a technical fault and that other people were wrong not to understand and appreciate her. She was self-consciously different from others, as if by choice. But she was painfully lonely." (p.11)

    "The February 1917, or "liberal", Russian Revolution began with a shortage of bread. On February 23, several St. Petersburg bakeries ran out of flour and closed their doors. That afternoon a planned International Women's Day march into a bread riot. The next day, male workers left their factories and joined the women in the streets. Before long, one hundred thousand hungry, war-weary workers, students, and soldiers collected at points outside the city and marched down Nevsky Prospekt, recklessly shouting "Down with the czar!" As in 1905, the Rosenbaums heard the insurrection from their Windows ; Rand later said that she and her sisters stood on their apartment balcony and watched as a line of mounted Cossacks fired warning shots above the crowd. Unlike in 1905, however, the czar didn't react quickly or decisively. By February 28, his St. Petersburg garrison, haphazardly led and sympathizing with the protesters, turned their guns on their commanders. The next day, thousands of munitions workers armed themselves for combat. That's when the Duma demanded, and got, the abdication of Czar Nicholas II. [...] For a brief period, the dashing and rhetorically gifted Kerensky became Ayn Rand's second hero, after Cyrus." (p.28-29)

    "When Rand returned to school that fall, the city's mood had darkened. The Provisional Government's first official act had been to confer equal rights on Jews, an unpopular move with most Russians. While the government also rapidly granted basic freedoms of speech, press, and assembly to the people at large, the lower classes were unmoved by abstract freedoms ; they wanted bread, fuel, land, and jobs with a living wage. These were not forthcoming. In fact, shortages were such that the government began to ration bread.
    Equally important, Kerensky didn't end the war ; through a blizzard of speeches, he tried to rally the army for a push to victory. This shifted popular sentiment leftward. In legislative élections in September, the Bolchevik candidates, running on a promise to end the war, nationalize factories, and confiscate landowners' fields, made gains. Unfortunately, this didn't alarm Kerensky. In early October, when V. D. Nabokov asked him whether an armed Bolshevik attack of the new government was now possible, the prime minister answered that he hoped so ; he was sure his troops could defeat the radicals once and for all.
    Then, to worldwide dismay, on October 25, 1917, Lenin and his Bolshevik followers struck. Simply by occuping a few key buildings, cutting telephone lines, and winning over a handful of strategically placed soldiers, they gained control of the capital and overthrew Russia's fragile republican government. A bloody civil for command of the rest of the empire followed, but this one-day coup was the unspectacular beginning of the dictature of the proletariat, whose ensuing brutalities Rand would one day brilliantly detail in fictional form. Kerensky, who fled the country, spent the rest of his life explaining why he shouldn't be blame for the failure of his nation's single great moment of political opportunity. Russian parliamentary democracy had lasted exactly eight months
    ." (p.29-30)

    "The worst was yet to come. In a campaign of class warfare waged by an ascendant Lenin against the middle class to pacify the poor, Rand's father's pharmacy, along with many of the city's factories, banks, shops, and offices, was raided, stamped with a red steal, and shuttered. Lenin called this "looting the looters". By encouraging acts of proletarian plunder and redistribution against the city's bourgeoisie, Lenin's new government consciously initiated the Red Terror. Twelve-year-old Rand was in the store on the day Bolshevik soldiers arrived, brandishing guns. The anger, helplessness, and frustration she remembered seeing in her father's face remained with her all her life ; the tenacity she bestows on her American businessman-hero Hank Rearden as he confronts the U. S. government's bureaucratic "looters and moochers" in Atlas Shrugged can be seen as her extended version of getting this scene right. Her father was out of business and out of work." (p.31-32)

    "It was about this time that she began to read the novels of Victor Hugo, the only novelist she ever acknowledged as having influenced her work. [...] Hugo, the foremost Romantic writer of the nineteenth century, was a master of epic melodramas featuring solitary, larger-than-life heroes and psychologically misshapen villains in what were typically scorching critiques of French society and government. The first one of his novels she read was The Man Who Laughs, then Les Misérables. In these and her other favorites, including The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Ninety-Three, the author excoriated Kings and Queens, the French Revolution and street violence, while also projecting emotional nobility and human grandeur. His préoccupations could hardly have been more pertinent to Rand's situation, and his insights must have deepened her understanding of revolution. She relished his intricate plots, inspiring themes, and outsized characters, and she fell in love with one of his most radical inventions: Enjolras, the highminded, again implacable Young revolutionary leader in Les Misérables, who would serve as a model for both the handsome aristocrat Leo Klovalensky and the Communist Party hero Andrei Taganov in We the Living. In each of her published novels except Anthem (1938), she retained traces of the plotting techniques and stylistic sleights of hand she learned from Hugo. Her love of his work stayed with her. At age fifty-seven, after everything else in her life had radically changed, she called him the "greatest novelist in world literature". (p.32-33)

    "Among other subjects, Rand studied math, which she loved, Russian langage and literature, which she claimed to hated, and Aristotelian syllogistic logic, which taugh her to prize rigor and strive for consistency. At the time, she recalled, she knew little about Aristotle except that he was supposed to be an archenemy of Plato, whom she took to be a virtous idealist, as opposed to a vulgar Communistic materialist, and so she expected to "be against" Aristotle. In one of her first college courses, she would change her mind about Plato, fall in love with Aristotle, and passionately align herself with Aristotle's empiricism for the remainder of her life. She also studied political economy, which fired her imagination." (p.35)

    "Zinovy's old-style rubles were now worthless ; the Bolsheviks isued their own inflated rubles, which became the legal tender in the South. By 1924, five billion of these rubles would buy what one had bought in 1914. This was a decisive blow in the campaign of economic devastation against the former middle class." (p.36)

    "Rand left St. Petersburg a girl and had returned a Young woman. In August 1921, she was admitted, free of charge, to Petrograd State University as a student in the newly formed Social-Pedagogical Division of the College of Social Sciences. This division combined the old disciplines of history, philogy, anthropology, and philosophy under one academic roof. She declared a major in history and a minor in philosophy and began attending classes in October. As a student, as in little else, she benefited from the Bolshevik regime, since Lenin had adopted Kerensky's Policy of offering educational opportunities to Jews and women, while doing away with tuition fees and reducing the full terme of study to three years. These changes were meant to help factory workers, but they made it possible for her to get the kind of education, and degree, that her parents could have only dreamed of. By her own lights, she made the most of it, studying as much she could with the older, classically trained, Western-leaning liberal professors who were slowly being phrased out, arrested, and deported. She took ancient, mediavel, Western, and Russian history ; logic ; philosophy of the mind, a forerunner of psychology ; French ; biology ; and historical materialism and the history of socialism, which were required courses. She read Hegel and Marx, Shakespeare, Schiller, and the great proto-Nietzschean novelist Dostoyevsky, whose mystical point of view she sais she rejected but whose brilliant integration of plot, theme, and "philosophy of mind" she learned from and found exciting. She later said that Dostoyevsky was the world's best interpreter of the psychology of evil. He "gives me the feeling of entering a chamber of horrors, but with a powerful guide," she wrote in 1971. She was Lucky to be admitted to the university when she was ; by 1924, the year she gratuated, a decree was issued barring admission to students from families who had owned property before the revolution or who had employed one or more servants at any time during the last three générations." (p.38-39)

    "Nietzsche's work was popular among intellectuals in Russia at the time, especially his descriptions of master and slave psychology and of the absolute right of the superior individual to place himself in opposition to the common herd. The seventeen-year old Rand immediately seized upon his ideas, including his call to discard old values and create new ones, his condemnation of altruism as a slave morality, and his argument for the inviolate rights of the gifted person, whose only obligation is to refine and use his gifts as he sees fit. One point, in particular, had an immediate influence on her thinking, she recalled. Until reading Nietzsche, she had assumed that in order to defend man against religion, she would have to defend all men, no matter how weak or strong. Zarathustra demonstrated "that it doesn't have to be collective. In other words, that the species can be vindicated by one man". She responded to his heightened language, his brilliance, his bold critique of Christianity, and his principled admiration of Jewish thought. From this point on, her major characters would be more or less overtly Nietzschean -and, because of their Superman aura, would often be wrongly seen as fascistic by her critics. It wasn't until she was writing The Fountainhead that she was able to begin to loosen Nietzsche's seductive hold on her imagination." (p.42)

    "There had been a numberof purges at the university since Rand arrived there in 1921. In the fall of 1922, for example, her eminent professor N. O. Lossky, along with his wife, his mother-in-law Mme Stoiunina, and 220 other famous Russian philosophers and intellectuals were arrested for so-called anti-Soviet activity and deported on what came to be know as the "Philosophy Ship". [...] A year later, while she was in her third and final year, the university announced the largest purge yet of "socially undesirable elements" among the students. She was one of four thousands students expelled, a third of the student body, some of whom -"young boys and girls i knew" she later said- were sent off to die in Siberian prison camps. She was officially charged with "not fulfilling academic requirements", but this was merely code for belonging to a prerevolutionnary middle-class family and not being an ardent-enough Communist. (In her first year, she, like Kira, made "all kind of anti-Soviet remarks" before realizing that she was endangering her family and herself.) The purge and its chilling, academically stifling aftereffects are unforgettably portrayed in We the Living. Rand, however, unlike her heroine Kira, got an unexpected reprieve. When a group of visiting Western scientists heard about the student purge and complained to their Communist hosts, she and other third-year students were reinstated and allowed to graduate." (p.43-47)

    "In October 1924, diploma in hand, the nineteen-year-old Rand enrolled in a new performing-arts scholl called the State Technicum for Screen Arts, founded with Lenin's explicit support in 1922 as a training camp for aspiring actors and cinematographers." (p.49)

    "In the spring of 1925 Rand applied for a Soviet passport, with the declared intention of visiting the United States for six months and to returning to Russia to make propaganda films." (p.50)

    "In 1926, New York, like much of the nation, was reveling in unparalleled prosperity. The miracles of capitalism were visible everywhere." (p.54)

    "By the time she boarded a New York Central train to Chicago, Alice Rosenbaum had chosen a new name: Ayn (pronounced "ein" or "eye-in") Rand. Because she was determined to move on to Hollywood as soon as she could improve her English, she knew she would need a Professional name. A pseudonym would also provide camouflage, if needed, against American immigration officials who, should her visa expire, might try to track her down." (p.55)

    "According to Minna Goldberg, Fern Brown, and others, she also failed to repay -or even to offer to repay- small amounts of money she borrowed during her first difficult years in Hollywood." (p.60)

    "[In 1926] she met and fell in love with an aspiring actor named Frank O'Connor, who was playing a Roman legionnaire in the cast of King of Kings. [...] Franck had been groomed by [his mother] to rise above the laboring class. He was stunningly beautiful, as anyone who ever met him agreed: tall, slender, with a classic profile and great natural elegance. At age fourteen, after his mother's death, he had dropped out his catholic hight school and became a lifelong atheist. [...] Altrought he had little education, spelled phonetically, and possessed almost no independant curiosity about books or ideas, he was exceptionally wiity, perceptive, well mannered, and kind. [...]
    She waited for him on the weekly payroll line, and they spoke to each other again. And then he disappeared for nine long months.
    Rand was heartbroken, and obsessed. [...]
    She saw him again [...] in May 1927
    ." (p.65-67)

    "Unfinished notes for a stunningly harsh and antisocial novella called The Little Street (1928), based on the actual trial of a notorious killer named William Hickman." (p.70)

    "Ayn Rand and Franck O'connor were married in the Los Angeles City Hall of Justice on April 15, 1929, either just before or just after Alice Risenbaum's visa officially expired. Two weeks later, she and her husband took a borrowed car to Mexicali, Mexico, and re-entered the United States at Calexico, California. She recrossed the border with a new name, Mrs. Charles Francis O'connor, and a new legal status as the wife of an American Citizen. As such, she was entitled to a rapid evaluation to become a permanent resident, and, eventually, a citizen. By June, having proved that she wasn't wanted for crimes in Soviet Russia, she received a permanent visa, the equivalent of a green card. With only one exception, she never left the United States again." (p.71)

    "In October 1929, the stock-market crash shook the nation out of its high spirits and into what would become the longest economic depression in U. S. history. Rand's permanent job [in the women's wardrobe deparement of the newly formed RKO Radio Pictures) was not only a stabilizing force in her marriage but also a precious commodity at a time when hundreds of thousands of Americans were losing their jobs." (p.72)

    "Ayn Rand and Franck O'connor left Los Angeles in [...] November 24, 1934. [...] They arrived in New York City during the first days of December. Almost immediately, her new Producer, A. H. Woods, put her to work preparing The Night of January 16th for its Broadway premiere. [...] She and O'connor had to economize on everything, including the food they heated on a hot plate in their room. She didn't like the hardship, but she was resolute and hopeful. She lived in the greatest city in the world. [...] And her new East Coast literacy agent, a woman named Jean Wick, was circulating the completed manuscript of We the Living to some of New York's most prestigious publishing houses." (p.83)

    "The Depression was beginning to produce political monsters of a kind she thought she had left behind in Russia. [...] It was only after living in New York for a year or two that Rand began to see the extent of the pro-Communist bias on the American intellectual left. A nineteenth-century Russian at heart, she believed that ideas have the power to change history and that intellectual leaders are the engines and agents of change. It was American intellectuals whom she eventually decided she would have to target and fight." (p.83-84)

    "The letters between Rand and the Rosenbaums ceased [in 1937]." (p.98)

    "Like Aldous Huxley's Brave New World and George Orwell's 1984 (published in 1949), [Anthem] appears to have been strongly influenced by Russian writer Yevgeny Zamiatin's little-known dystopian novel We, written in St. Petersburg in 1920." (p.103)

    "In 1942, with a pressing deadline before her, she began to take amphetamines. [...] Over time or in larger doses, they can lead to mood swings, irritability, uncontrolled emotional outbursts, impaired judgment, and paranoia, all of which Rand was susceptible to wirthout chemical assistance." (p.146)

    "One hundred thousand copies of The Fountainhead would be sold in 1945 alone." (p.155)

    "Money gave Ayn Rand the time and the freedom to write." (p.159)

    "Nathaniel Branden sent his favorite author a youthful fan letter. That was in the summer of 1949, the summer before he entered college. [...] [They met in march 1950]." (p.219-220)

    "New York was such a politically liberal city in the 1950s that Saul Bellow described it as an intellectual annex of Moscow." (p.245)

    "[Henry Hazlitt] had introduced them at a dinner party he and Frances gave in 1941 or 1942. As he later recalled the incident, they and his other guests were gathered in the living room after dinner. He took drink orders, and when he returned from the kitchen with a tray in his hands, he heard Rand saying to Mises, "You treat me like a ignorant Jewish girl !". Without knowing exactly what had happened between them, but assuming that they were arguing about the doctrine of natural rights, he tried to make peace. "Oh, i'm sure, Ayn, that Lu didn't mean it that way" he remembered telling her. Mises, who was famously dapper, self-disciplined, and charming, jumped to his feet and shouted, "I did mean it that way !". Since the Austrian sexagenarian was already hard of hearing, Hazlitt surmised that he had not heard what Rand had said. In any case, peace was restored.
    Rand and Mises probably didn't see each other again until the early 1950s. But during one of Hazlitt's trip to Los Angeles, the well-known journalist delighted her by confiding that "Lu Mises and i were talking about you the other day, and he called you 'the most courageous man in America.' " "Did he really say man ?" she asked him. "Yes", said Hazlitt, and she beamed. Within limits, she and the old-world economist like and respected each other. But ideas trumped compliments. Years later, Nathaniel Branden discovered a set of angry margin notes she had prenned in her copy of Mises's most famous book,
    Human Action. "Bastard !" he recalled that she wrote on one page, irritated by Mises's rejection of a moral, as opposed to a practical, argument for capitalism. [...]
    She remained friendly with Mises, however, for another decade and helped him to promote his books
    ." (p.249)

    "Without the tacit consent of good people, the world's leeches, looters, and tyrants could not survive, let alone rule. Not to condemn was to consent." (p.267)

    "Atlas Shrugged was published on October 10, 1957. The reviews began to appear three days later, and the célébrations ended. They were not merely critical, they were hateful and dishonest." (p.282)

    "By the fall of 1958, she was drifting into a clinical depression. [...] She remained depressed from late 1958 until early 1961." (p.303-304)

    "The antihomosexual bias expressed by Rand." (p.362)

    "[On August 23, 1968] Barbara informed Rand that she and her husband had both been lying about Patrecia. [...] Ayn Rand never shaw her protégé of nineteen years again." (p.370 et 373)

    "In the spring of 1979, New American Library published her Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, a theorical treatise on the nature of human reason first published in several installments in The Objectivist." (p.404)
    -Anne C. Heller, Ayn Rand and the world she made, Anchor Books Edition, 2009, 567 pages.

    "From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding, "To a gas chamber - go !".
    -Whittaker Chambers, dans sa critique d'Altas Shrugged, National Review, 1957.

    "If a life can have a theme song, and i believe every worthwhile one has, mine is a religion, an obsession, or a mania or all of these expressed in one word: individualism. I was born with that obsession and have never seen and do not know a cause more worthy, more misunderstood, more seemingly hopeless and more tragically needed. Call it fate or irony, but i was born, of all countries on earth, in the one least suitable for a fanatic of individualism, Russia."
    -Ayn Rand, Autobiographical Sketch, 1936, cité dans Ann C. Heller, Ayn Rand and the world she made, Anchor Books Edition, 2009, 567 pages, p. 1.

    "Platon ? Le père du Communisme."
    -Ayn Rand, cité dans Ann C. Heller, Ayn Rand and the world she made, Anchor Books Edition, 2009, 567 pages, p. 233.

    "Le destructeur en chef du monde moderne."
    -Ayn Rand, à propos de Kant, cité dans Ann C. Heller, Ayn Rand and the world she made, Anchor Books Edition, 2009, 567 pages, p. 325.


    _________________
    «You'll have to think harder than you've ever done before, because you will be on your own -relying on your own judgment and the logic of the arguments you hear or consider, rejecting all authorities and all bromides, and taking nothing on faith. »  
    -Ayn Rand.



      La date/heure actuelle est Ven 20 Oct - 3:31