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A question on the realism

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Severinian
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Ayn Rand classified her novels as romantic realism, and for the most part, I think that's correct. However, when the "saint" is burned alive in Anthem with a smile on his face, or when John Galt can take the most extreme torture and just laugh in their faces, I don't think that's realistic. I know we have free will and can shift our consciousness, but there are obviously limitations. I'm pretty sure that absolutey noone in real life could be burned alive and still be able to smile and bear the pain, unless of course he had one of these rare conditions when one is immune to pain. It's simply biology, at a certain point, the pain will be unbearable, one could not smile and one would do anything to be relieved from it.

Thoughts? 

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Rand does not use "realism" to mean true to life, and objects to too true a portrayal. On the other hand, she does not write fantasy. Her actors aren't wizard or super-heroes. Instead, we see her actors making the best hamburger in the world, or making the best buildings: pretty real-world grounded pursuits. However, she often does not seek to be taken literally, and sometimes expects her reader to look through the author's eyes to judge a character, rather than judging them as they would if they met them in real life. 

 

Anthem is her only book that could be considered a wee bit fantastic, but I think she would still call it "realism" in the way she used the concept. The style more like exaggerated legend rather than proper fantasy. In Atlas, she lets her actors spread a few symbolic and slightly fantastic rumors about John Galt. 

 

On the "saint" in Anthem, I'm not sure if Rand was thinking of Saint Lawrence (patron saints of cooks) who said cheerfully "I'm done on this side; turn me over now!" If not, her tale is in the same spirit.

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