By Joseph Kellard
I wrote this comment this morning and emailed it to the author of a synopsis-type commentary on the two new biographies about Ayn Rand.
I want to address two passages that appeared in your piece on the two new books on Any Rand that I read at bloomberg.com:
"Born Alisa Rosenbaum in 1905 in St. [Petersburg], Russia, to Jewish parents, Rand had a privileged upbringing. Her father, Zinovy, was a successful pharmacist; her mother, Anna, a social climber. Rand watched as the Bolsheviks seized her father’s pharmacy in 1918. Zinovy refused to work for the Communists, which was the clear inspiration for 'Atlas.'"
This scenario is often repeated by people, especially those insufficiently familiar with Ayn Rand's life, as the reason for her strong anti-Communism. But Miss Rand began to develop her essentially anti-collectivist, anti-statist ideas while she was a girl growing up in czarist Russia, before the Communist took power.
While the Communist confiscation of her family's property certainly played a part in the development of her mature views that influenced her writings, it is not the event that so many misinformed observers and commentators make into a primary, seminal matter. For Miss Rand, it took more, much more, than just one concrete event to form her most fundamental ideas and inspire such writings as Atlas Shrugged.
Also, you wrote:
"Any question or challenge from acolytes would incite her, leading to expulsion and the severing of the relationship for life."
"Any" question or challenge? This is a complete distortion that lends credence to the unjust portrait that Ayn Rand was dogmatic about Objectivism. I’m sure that many of her admirers who knew her well, including her closest associate Dr. Leonard Peikoff, would give you and the authors of these two new books ample evidence to the contrary.