Today in fiction
On March 6, Sean and Janet discuss obtaining a sample of Louis Martin's medicine.
-- "Terminal" (1992)
By Robin Cook
From "The Book of Fictional Days"
Know when something that did not really happen
occurred? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Today in literary history
On this day in 1982 Ayn Rand died, at the age of 77. Whatever might be said about Rand's controversial philosophy, difficult personality and long books, her life story is a remarkable one. In 1926, 21-year-old Alice Rosenbaum fled Communist Russia for Hollywood America, determined to be a writer. She arrived there six months later as Ayn Rand -- "Ayn" for the nice sound (rhymes with "mine," one biographer says without irony), "Rand" for the Remington Rand typewriter she brought with her. On her second day, she got a lift and a job from Cecil B. DeMille; in her first week, she met the man to whom she would be married for 50 years. Before long she had given up screenwriting for other kinds: "The Fountainhead" (1943), "Atlas Shrugged" (1957), nine books on her Objectivist beliefs, and more. By newsletter, talk show, Institute and disciple, she became the champion of egoism and laissez-faire capitalism, beloved by those who like the self-made, freely chosen, squarely told view of things:
This last is from John Galt's 60-page speech in "Atlas Shrugged," an excerpt used at the conclusion of the last talk Rand gave, a few months before her death, to a New Orleans meeting of millionaires and economic elite. Her theme, as described by one biographer, was that of the novel: "The producers, who carry the world on their shoulders and keep it alive, are being destroyed by their acceptance of the morality of altruism [and] the insults and accusations of materialism hurled against them, instead of proudly asserting their moral right to the profits they earn."
Paul Erdman and Louis Rukeyser were there. Alan Greenspan was one of Rand's followers and was there at her funeral to see the 6-foot flower arrangement in the shape of a dollar sign. A recent book about Greenspan by Jerome Tuccille is titled "Alan Shrugged." As USA Today recently reported, "Atlas Shrugged" and the attendant Web sites have been receiving increased attention from business executives looking for comfort in a cold, post-Enron world.
-- Steve King
To find out more about "Today in Literary History," contact Steve King.