Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Library of Congress on Atlas Shrugged, redux

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

IMO the 1991 poll of Book of the Month Club members, where Atlas Shrugged came in a distant second to the Bible, has long been an overused, and misused talking point among Objectivist talking heads. Also there is the Modern Library poll, where the critics’ choices don’t line up very well with the public vote, Ulysses at number one, and no Rand anywhere in the top 100, then AS at number one while Ulysses is at number eleven. That’s fine, but L. Ron Hubbard’s Battlefield Earth is number three, I mean who wants to be in that company?

So, to get to the point, the Library of Congress has, in effect, another poll going now, so here’s your chance to vote for your favorites. This time it’s “Books That Shaped America”, the choices are a combination of fiction and non-fiction, and you get to pick three.

http://www.loc.gov/bookfest/books-that-shaped-america/

I’m thinking I’ll vote for Thomas Paine, Margaret Mitchell, and you know who. If I had five votes I’d sure like to add in Twain and Heller.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Good to know, thanks for the link!

Sure thing. I hope lots of Rand fans vote, though if she beats out Twain by a ten to one margin it’ll be a credibility killer. It’s not clear whether (or in what form) they’ll be releasing the results, but it can’t hurt to vote. One other point, they’re prompting people to name one book that was left out, so that’s another way to make your voice heard. I put down Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. Thinking about it more, even though I don’t like it, I think Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer belongs, since it was so important for First Amendment reasons. In that way it’s certainly a “Book That Shaped America”. For that matter, so was James Joyce’s Ulysses, though I gather they’re only including American authors. There’s an interesting Rand connection with that one, which I’ve never seen remarked on, and that’s that Bennett Cerf was the one behind using Ulysses as a First Amendment test case. Of course later he was the publisher of Atlas Shrugged, and is said to have paced the halls of Random House with the manuscript shouting “It’s magnificent!” So I’m not the only one to have a positive view of both books.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sure thing. I hope lots of Rand fans vote, though if she beats out Twain by a ten to one margin it’ll be a credibility killer. It’s not clear whether (or in what form) they’ll be releasing the results, but it can’t hurt to vote. One other point, they’re prompting people to name one book that was left out, so that’s another way to make your voice heard. I put down Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. Thinking about it more, even though I don’t like it, I think Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer belongs, since it was so important for First Amendment reasons. In that way it’s certainly a “Book That Shaped America”. For that matter, so was James Joyce’s Ulysses, though I gather they’re only including American authors. There’s an interesting Rand connection with that one, which I’ve never seen remarked on, and that’s that Bennett Cerf was the one behind using Ulysses as a First Amendment test case. Of course later he was the publisher of Atlas Shrugged, and is said to have paced the halls of Random House with the manuscript shouting “It’s magnificent!” So I’m not the only one to have a positive view of both books.

I think we are not alone in being able to enjoy and appreciate a work without condoning the sense of life it depicts.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I think we are not alone in being able to enjoy and appreciate a work without condoning the sense of life it depicts.

I appreciate your attitude, but recently Leonard Peikoff denounced Joyce for destroying values and thus being a nihilist, and then we have Harry Binswanger's equally embarrassing article, which was reproduced in the AS essays collection and is also on the ARI website. BTW the podcast segment is truly hilarious for reasons other than the Joyce comment.

http://www.peikoff.com/2012/07/16/if-a-person-doesnt-like-oral-sex-is-this-a-form-of-nihilism-or-just-an-arbitrary-sexual-preference/

http://www.aynrand.org/site/News2?id=5397

What part of the book are you quoting from, Harry? What's happening in that scene? And how many drinks has Leopold Bloom had by that time? Maybe in context the abstractions ought to be "woozy"...

Link to post
Share on other sites

I have a strange affection for Last Exit to Brooklyn by Hubert Selby Jr.

Wow, talk about malevolent sense of life! The movie of Requiem for a Dream was absolutely gripping.

Here's a few more nominees, this time with a religious freedom/diversity theme:

Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures

Joseph Smith, The Book of Mormon

George H. Smith, Atheism, The Case Against God

Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, talk about malevolent sense of life! The movie of Requiem for a Dream was absolutely gripping.

The thing I find fascinating about HSJr is that he can write about utterly malevolent people and situations and yet I get the feeling that he himself is outside of that sens eof life himself.

An example, from an interview:

“I think the function of suffering is to let me know that my perception is skewed; what I’m doing is judging natural events in such a way that I am creating suffering within myself. For instance, you have pain over certain conditions, certain situations that occur. And if you just say ‘ok, here I am, I’m going to experience the pain,’ you don’t suffer. The resistance and the degree of the resistance to the natural phenomenon of life causes tremendous suffering.”

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 month later...

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...