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"Bad" Writing

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Michero
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I stumbled into what I can only describe as an anti-ayn rand website, where (like an accident on the side of the road) I found myself perusing the titles and descriptions of the links. If your interested I've posted the link to said web page at the bottom. To get to the point, I noticed many references to Rands "bad" writing. This is something I"ve heard before but always brushed off because I like her style and never really cared why others didn't, but now I'm curious. Because I've never heard the critics explanations as to why exactly they consider her writing bad, I want to know...why? Have you ever heard anything that resembled a reason--or do you agree (I realise this is unlikely) with the position that her style of writing was flawed?

The reason I ask in this forum and not an anti-rand forum is because...well-- I don't want to talk to them. I never get a straight answer when I try.

http://world.std.com/~mhuben/critobj.html

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I wouldn't say Rand's fiction writing is "bad," but her style is bland, her characters are predictable, and her books simply can become monotonous. The actions of the characters are sometimes too strange, and people have trouble relating to them.

Most people will not understand a book like The Fountainhead enough to enjoy it, and after having several friends tell me they hated it, I stopped reccomending it to my non-Objectivist friends.

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I wouldn't say Rand's fiction writing is "bad," but ...
Just curious: does this mean you personally never liked Rand's fiction and either did not read it all or read it only to understand the philosophy? Or, are you saying that despite what you see as shortcomings, you personally still liked the fiction?

Second, I'm curious about what non-fantasy fiction writer you've read who has the most 'non-bland" characters and which writer has the most unpredictable characters?

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The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged are my two favourite novels ever. However I do dislike several aspects of ARs writing style, which I find to be over the top and lacking in subtelty. Although her dialog is probably the best I've ever read, I find her prose, and descriptions, to be often overlengthy and quite dull. A good example is her account of the first trian journey in Atlas Shrugged, which went on for several pages and didnt really say much.

I think the "one-dimensional characters" criticism is wrong, although it does apply to the villians in Atlas Shrugged - none of the 'bad' characters were convincing, and people like Taggart were more caricatures than anything else (compare to Toohey in FH). But I think this was part of the point - society wasnt falling apart because there were a few masterminds pulling the strings, but because of widespread mediocrity and the refusal to think. Including a Toohey type character in AS would have completely changed the meaning of the novel. On a sidenote, I do think that John Galt was a poor character, almost entirely lacking in depth and personality, especially when compared to Howard Roark (my favourite fictional character ever) and to a lesser extent Rearden or Francisco.

I would agree with most of the criticisms of ARs style when it comes to Anthem, which I didnt enjoy at all, but definitely not for FH or AS.

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Inspector is absolutely right. You would not believe the creepy shudder you get after reading AS when you hear some politician say WORD FOR WORD something that came straight from the mouth of Mr. Thompson or Wesley Mouch. It's like reality has suddenly gone all strange and threatening and you live in a universe where truth is a lie and fiction is realler than fact. It's scary.

Hal's objection that Miss Rand's style is too "simple" is truly the main one that I have ever seen from any critic. Apparently they like their novels dense and impenetrable, so that one gains from them the feeling of struggling, as through a fog, to attach disjointed scenes, phrases, paragraphs, and descriptions, making them add up to some kind of useful impression. Personally I find this method of writing (and of reading!) highly disturbing; I am left disoriented, not sure whether I have read a book or been drowned and dragged again from the waters.

If you'd like to read a PRIME example of the OTHER kind of writing, read Catch-22, the characters are banal and inane, uttering only the worst sort of cliched bromides until you want to scream, the book follows no clear course-of-events but meanders randomly from past to future to present without sense or plan. If THIS is great writing I'm sticking with Ayn Rand and J.K. Rowling.

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Just curious: does this mean you personally never liked Rand's fiction and either did not read it all or read it only to understand the philosophy? Or, are you saying that despite what you see as shortcomings, you personally still liked the fiction?
I have read Atlas Shrugged, The Fountainhead, and Anthem. I liked them all (Atlas is one of my very favorite books), but I think her shortcomings make it difficult for people who are not thoroughly acquainted with her ideas to enjoy them, much less understand what she's saying.

Second, I'm curious about what non-fantasy fiction writer you've read who has the most 'non-bland" characters and which writer has the most unpredictable characters?

I didn't say unpredictability was good--I said overpredictability was bad. If you want to know my favorite writer, the answer is Victor Hugo. Of course, my favorite philosopher is Ayn Rand--but specifically as a philosopher, not as a writer.

Like JMeganSnow, I also like J.K. Rowling and dislike writing in the style (if you can call it style) of Catch-22.

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Hal's objection that Miss Rand's style is too "simple" is truly the main one that I have ever seen from any critic.  Apparently they like their novels dense and impenetrable, so that one gains from them the feeling of struggling, as through a fog, to attach disjointed scenes, phrases, paragraphs, and descriptions, making them add up to some kind of useful impression.
Not having a 'simplistic' style (although that isnt what I even said) doesnt equate with writing 'dense and impenetrable' novels, absurd strawmen aside.

Also, I enjoyed Catch 22.

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Also, I enjoyed Catch 22.

Somehow I'm not surprised. Since the definition of subtle that I know includes: "Difficult to understand; abstruse" and "Crafty or sly; devious." I thought "simple" (not simplistic, which is an anti-concept) was a perfectly adequate antonym for the term, and thus a perfectly adequate definition for "lack of subtlety". Perhaps that subtlety escaped you.

Valjean, you commented that you thought the characters (particularly in the Fountainhead) were too predictable, but also that their actions were strange and difficult to understand. Those statements seem on the surface to contradict, could you perhaps clarify? You seem to indicate that they predicably act in ways no one could forsee or expect (?).

Ayn Rand's books were probably the first really mature literature I ever read, and I really didn't grasp the whole picture the first or even the fifth time I read through them. If you recommend them to people that are used to the easy stuff, they may indeed react badly. I try not to recommend them unless I know that people are a.) active thinkers and b.) heavy readers.

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Valjean, you commented that you thought the characters (particularly in the Fountainhead) were too predictable, but also that their actions were strange and difficult to understand.  Those statements seem on the surface to contradict, could you perhaps clarify?  You seem to indicate that they predicably act in ways no one could forsee or expect (?).

The characters are predictable to someone who understands Objectivism because the heroes always do what Objectivist ethics dictates they should, while the villains always do the opposite.

To people who don't understand Objectivism, actions like raping Dominique and destroying an apartment complex just seem too strange, erratic, or violent.

So, from either perspective, the characters do not seem like real people--or even people as they "can and ought to be."

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I'm trying to reconcile what seem (on their face) to be contradictory statements. This one:

I wouldn't say Rand's fiction writing is "bad," but her style is bland, her characters are predictable, and her books simply can become monotonous.
and, this one:
... (Atlas is one of my very favorite books),

And, since you also said:

...I think her shortcomings make it difficult for people who are not thoroughly acquainted with her ideas to enjoy them, much less understand what she's saying.
I conclude that you're saying you like Ayn Rand's fiction, but that is primarily because you were already acquainted with Objectivism (through a non-fiction book, or some such source).

VoS was the first Ayn Rand book I read. When I read FH immediately after that I did find a bit of the "predictability" you speak of: the ideas in VoS were so radically different, and the ideas in FH were so consistent with that, that I did feel --- at the time -- that FH could do with being less propoganda-like. I no longer share that evaluation. I loved the book then and now. If I could re-write history, I do think I would have preferred to have read FH before reading any non-fiction, or to have had a gap of time between the two readings.

I do know, however, that many Objectivists started with the fiction, and loved it. Do you think the folks who did not like FH would have liked something like VoS?

... my favorite writer, ...Victor Hugo.
I love Hugo too. From what I remember, he was Ayn Rand's favorite as well. Great minds think alike :) ! Edited by softwareNerd
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The characters are predictable to someone who understands Objectivism because the heroes always do what Objectivist ethics dictates they should, while the villains always do the opposite. 

Characters should be predictable, in the sense that their actions should be consistent with their premises.

However, if Miss Rand's heroes always do what Objectivist ethics dictates, then why the conflict between Galt and Dagny? Why did one go on strike but the other attempt to hold out?

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Characters should be predictable, in the sense that their actions should be consistent with their premises. 

However, if Miss Rand's heroes always do what Objectivist ethics dictates, then why the conflict between Galt and Dagny?  Why did one go on strike but the other attempt to hold out?

When it comes to plot (not style) this is something I, as a writer had trouble understanding at first, about Rand's writing. Meaning I had trouble with the fact that her hero characters became predictable once their philosophies were exposed. I thought (due in part to too much modern reading and college writing courses) that writing "predictable" is bad writing. What I didn't get was that the heroes weren't predictable, they were logical. And the crucial difference between good hero writing and bad hero writing was Rand's use of the hero's own values as sources of conflict. The hero himself has no flaws, but the things he values, such as his lover or work may be a source of conflict for him. If the story was just about a hero doing his work and finding love without problems it'd be nice, but a bit boring, which is why Rand's works haFve characters that are temporarily flawed like Dagny and Dominique and Reardon etc. They give the hero the conflict that show his heroic nature dramatically--not in a boring way. As Roark wanting to see his buildings built (which urged him to enter into a less than perfect agreement), or Dagny's desire to continue her railroad (which forced her to help the looters, the hero's values bring them into conflict with the outside world. Those flaws make the hero and his struggles more dramatic, better drama and that to me is great writing. Being able to write a hero in an interesting way without taking away from his heroic nature, but in fact adding to it makes her one of the greatest writers in my opinion. Hmm didn't mean to get preachy there.

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...  I find her prose, and descriptions, to be often overlengthy and quite dull. A good example is her account of the first train journey in Atlas Shrugged, which went on for several pages and didnt really say much.

Only a faint echo within the sounds spoke of that from which the music had escaped, but spoke with laughing astonishment at the discovery that there was no ugliness or pain, and there never had had to be.  It was the song of an immense deliverance.

.....

She sat up straight.  WHEN did Richard Halley write this?

The first chapter is called "THE THEME" for a good reason. It establishes the characters of Eddie Willers and Dagny Taggart. Eddie is a second-hander who sees the universe as malevolent. Dagny is an independent thinker who sees the universe as benevolent. The novel is essentially developing the contrast between these two types of people. Dagny's character is shown in the train ride and it also gives the first hint of the mystery which forms the basis of the plot.

...  I do think that John Galt was a poor character, almost entirely lacking in depth and personality, ...

He lacks "complexity" because he is unconflicted. He already understands the whole truth at the beginning of the novel and acts accordingly. Ayn Rand cannot follow him to show his character in more depth because that would be a spoiler (reveal too much too soon).

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  What I didn't get was that the heroes weren't predictable, they were logical. And the crucial difference between good hero writing and bad hero writing was Rand's use of the hero's own values as sources of conflict. The hero himself has no flaws, but the things he values, such as his lover or work may be a source of conflict for him.

Exactly. Very nicely put.
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Eddie is a second-hander who sees the universe as malevolent.  Dagny is an independent thinker who sees the universe as benevolent. 

Eddie is not a second-hander in the same sense as Peter Keating. And what is the evidence that he saw the universe as malevolent? I thought his view went from benevolence in the beginning to bewilderment by the end.
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Sorry it has taken me a tad bit longer than it should to get back to this thread.

So are you saying that people who act on the Objectivist ethics don't and can't exist in reality?

No, I am saying that people like John Galt and Howard Roark do not and cannot exist in reality. They are too coldly, precisely rational and seem to lack certain attributes that are part of every human. I like my heroes to be heroic but reasonably human; I like them to be people I can relate to. I think I share this view with most readers in the general populace. Dagny, for example, is an improvement over Roark or Galt (although even she lacks the finesse of the characters of some writers).

I conclude that you're saying you like Ayn Rand's fiction, but that is primarily because you were already acquainted with Objectivism (through a non-fiction book, or some such source). 

...

I love Hugo too. From what I remember, he was Ayn Rand's favorite as well. Great minds think alike :thumbsup: !

Your conclusion is right. I would have just said that if my point was to tell you all my personal feelings/experience, but I'm glad I made some sense anyway for once. And I'm glad you agree with me on Hugo! :D

That never happened. There's a thread on this. Hm, if it's so "simple," I wonder how you missed the fact that it wasn't rape.

Define "rape." Obviously, we don't need to discuss this here--I was just referencing an event which, in any case, the average reader will perceive as rape, and you were just trying to undermine my credibility with something that's unimportant. Plus, I never used the word "simple", so please don't put quotes around it and words in my mouth.

Eddie is not a second-hander in the same sense as Peter Keating.  And what is the evidence that he saw the universe as malevolent?  I thought his view went from benevolence in the beginning to bewilderment by the end.

I never did understand what Rand was trying to convey with Eddie, but I saw him as kind of a "good person" character until the very end of the book.

EDITED by poster for formatting

Edited by valjean
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Eddie is a second-hander who sees the universe as malevolent.

Eddie is not a second-hander in the same sense as Peter Keating. And what is the evidence that he saw the universe as malevolent? I thought his view went from benevolence in the beginning to bewilderment by the end.

I never did understand what Rand was trying to convey with Eddie, but I saw him as kind of a "good person" character until the very end of the book.

Ayn Rand divided her characters into two classes:

(1) Heroes. Those who choose to use their conceptual consciousness to arrive at an independent understanding of the world. And consequently, who pursue goals or ambitions of their own choosing. These people are often condemned as selfish, even though they are the motive force of the world.

(2) Second-handers. These people are intellectual parasites. They simply accept some portion of the conventional wisdom uncritically, instead of working out the truth as best they can. Their lives revolve around their relationships to another person or people because they cannot function without guidance from others. These people are generally altruists.

Much of Atlas Shrugged revolves around the contrast between Dagny Taggart and Eddie Willers. Dagny without Eddie is still Dagny. Eddie without Dagny is nothing. Dagny is a hero. Eddie is a second-hander.

Eddie is honest, hard-working, and dedicated to Dagny. By conventional standards, he is a decent person. But by Ayn Rand's standards he is a villain, albeit the least vicious of the villains.

When he [Eddie] was asked [by Dagny] what he would want to do, he answered at once "Whatever is right," and added, "You ought to do something great ... I mean the two of us together."  "What?" she asked.  He said "I don't know. That's what we ought to find out.  Not just what you said.  Not just business and earning a living.  Things like winning battles, or saving people out of fires, or climbing mountains."  "What for?" she asked.  He said, "The minister said last Sunday that we must always reach for the best within us.  What do you suppose is the best within us?"

Clearly Eddie is relying on the minister and Dagny to do his thinking for him.

In his last scene, the next to the last in the book, he finally realized that Dagny was right -- that business is the best within us. But he is still crying out to the absent Dagny instead of thinking of his own survival.

Ayn Rand's opinion of Eddie is reflected by John Galt. John Galt is well acquainted with Eddie and knows of his connection to Dagny, because John has been having conversations with Eddie in the lunch room at the Taggart Building in order to find out what Dagny is doing to try to save Taggart Transcontinental so that he can frustrate her plans. Yet outside those conversations, John never thinks or speaks of Eddie and does not consider inviting him to Atlantis.

In fact, I am sure that John would have been horrified if Dagny had suggested bringing Eddie to Atlantis (which she did not). After all, John ended his great speech by saying, "I swear -- by my life and my love of it -- that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.".

Eddie Willers walked on, wondering why he always felt it at this time of day, this sense of dread without reason.  No, he thought, not dread, there is nothing to fear: just an immense, diffused apprehension, with no source or object.

This shows that Eddie's sense of life is that the universe is malevolent. Also see the part about the Oak Tree on page 13.

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No, I am saying that people like John Galt and Howard Roark do not and cannot exist in reality.  They are too coldly, precisely rational and seem to lack certain attributes that are part of every human.

First, no they aren't "too coldly" rational. How can a person be "too" rational? Second, by "coldly," are you saying they did not experience passionate emotions in the book? Are you taking into consideration that in AS, the strikers HAD to hold back their emotions to maintain the secrecy of the strike?

Second, exactly which "certain attributes" did they seem to lack that are part of every human? Be specific.

Define "rape."  Obviously, we don't need to discuss this here--
I don't need to do that. (at least I hope not!) And no, we do not need to discuss that here: like I said, there is ALREADY a thread on it and you can do a search if you need a full explanation.

I was just referencing an event which, in any case, the average reader will perceive as rape, and you were just trying to undermine my credibility with something that's unimportant.

What the average idiot perceives or does not perceive is not a concern to me. The FACT is that it was NOT. And THAT is what I am concerned with: FACT.

As for your credibility... well, your opinions so far seem very much in line with what the mainstream media says about the works of Ayn Rand... and in my opinion at least, that makes you very suspicious.

Exactly what is your philosophy? Are you an Objectivist? If not, what is your opinion of Objectivism?

Plus, I never used the word "simple", so please don't put quotes around it and words in my mouth.

For that at least, you have my apologies. It was being thrown around a lot in this thread and I did not exercise the necessary care.

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Ayn Rand divided her characters into two classes:

(1) Heroes.  Those who choose to use their conceptual consciousness to arrive at an independent understanding of the world.  And consequently, who pursue goals or ambitions of their own choosing.  These people are often condemned as selfish, even though they are the motive force of the world.

(2) Second-handers.  These people are intellectual parasites.  They simply accept some portion of the conventional wisdom uncritically, instead of working out the truth as best they can.  Their lives revolve around their relationships to another person or people because they cannot function without guidance from others.  These people are generally altruists.

This is a gross oversimplification that ignores: 1) the many characters with mixed premises that appear in Miss Rand's novels, and 2) the many men of more average ability. It also indicates a significant misunderstanding of Objectivist ethics.

Consider Gail Wynand, Dominique Francon, Henry Cameron, Mike (the electrician), Mr. Ward, Dan Conway -- and Eddie Willers. None of these people are altruists. None are intellectual parasites. Only one is a second hander.

Miss Rand gives us characters that span the whole spectrum of ability and honesty.

Much of Atlas Shrugged revolves around the contrast between Dagny Taggart and Eddie Willers.  Dagny without Eddie is still Dagny.  Eddie without Dagny is nothing.  Dagny is a hero.  Eddie is a second-hander.
A second-hander is someone who "lives through others" by seeking their approval and their praise. A second hander elevates this approval and praise above reality -- the opinions of others become more important than the truth. A second-hander's conscioussness is focused on the content of the consciousness of others instead of on reality.

None of this is true of Eddie. He is focused on the requirements of running a railroad -- and he places nothing above the truth. Like all men of average ability, he gains tremendously from the existence of a productive genius like Dagny. But that does not mean that he lives through them. He does not expect them to do his work. And he does not expect to receive the same rewards they do.

Note that Eddie is unaffected by the disapproval of James Taggert. That sort of disapproval coming from someone at Taggert's level would whither a second-hander.

Eddie is honest, hard-working, and dedicated to Dagny.  By conventional standards, he is a decent person.  But by Ayn Rand's standards he is a villain, albeit the least vicious of the villains.
Nothing could be further from the truth. This indicates a common but very serious misunderstanding of Objectivist ethics. Objectivism does not hold that one must be a genius to be moral. One must only exercise whatever ability one has as rationally and as honestly as possible. Your statement is a total misrepresentation of Miss Rand's standards.

Eddie Willers was completely moral. Miss Rand stated this publicly.

Clearly Eddie is relying on the minister and Dagny to do his thinking for him.

In his last scene, the next to the last in the book, he finally realized that Dagny was right -- that business is the best within us.  But he is still crying out to the absent Dagny instead of thinking of his own survival.

Relying on guidance from others is not the same as being a second-hander. A second-hander seeks approval and praise, not guidance.

Miss Rand's artistic purpose in showing Eddie on the Comet is to demonstrate what happens to those of average ability in the face of collectivism. Without the men of great ability to shield them, they perish rapidly.

Ayn Rand's opinion of Eddie is reflected by John Galt.  Yet outside those conversations, John never thinks or speaks of Eddie and does not consider inviting him to Atlantis.

In fact, I am sure that John would have been horrified if Dagny had suggested bringing Eddie to Atlantis (which she did not).  After all, John ended his great speech by saying, "I swear -- by my life and my love of it -- that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.".

This is another very common misconception. Dagny was clearly expecting Eddie to join the strike when she did. See page 1036 of AS.

A second-hander, by the way, would have complied with Dagny’s wishes and stayed with her in New York.

Other men of average ability, that is men who were not heroes on the scale of Galt et al, were also shown joining the strike. For instance, Owen Kellogg, Galt's first boss at 20th Century Motors, Rearden's secretary and foreman, a mother raising her children, a fishwife, a truck driver, a professor of economics, a professor of psychology, the brakeman, a sculptor, a chemist.

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Ayn Rand divided her characters into two classes...

It is from this perspective that I said what I've said earlier--that one of Rand's flaws as a writer was creating unrealistic characters. To divide the human race into two classes, heroes and villains, would obviously create unrealistic characters--characters who, on the one hand are too "coldly rational" (by that I meant, earlier, characters who are perfect and don't experience a variety of moral dillemas, compromises, and emotions to which normal people can relate) and who on the other hand are so evil that again, we cannot relate to them. Yes, Rand tried to portray her vision of the ideal or "perfect" (as much as possible) man--John Galt, for example--and this is a man to whom I cannot relate.

However, from AisA's recent post, I have come to realize that that perspective is perhaps a shallow and incorrect one. It's been several months since I've read either AS or FH (both for the first time) and, over time, we tend to only remember the really major characters. The ones I remember the most clearly--John Galt, Howard Roark, etc., did have some of the flaws I outlined above--but one must remember all the other characters to whom we can better relate. In other words, characters to whom I and many others cannot relate stand out against a background of more subtle characters.

I think the blurring tendency I outlined in the above paragraph demonstrates something that many people, whether they are members of the media or casual readers, tend to do (whether from forgetfullness or lack of understanding)--categorize, classify, generalize, and look back on something that isn't exactly what they saw before, and isn't nearly as complete. It's not just my problem.

This problem seems to have a greater tendency to occur with the works of Rand; writers like Victor Hugo, for example, use characters that one relates to and remembers vividly from the first encounter with them onward. His works have a different kind of subtlety that doesn't take away from the book as much as Rand's does if the reader misses it or loses it in his or her mind.

The fact that Rand's writing contributes to such phenomena doesn't make her a lesser writer necessarily; it makes her much harder for the masses to appreciate, though. I personally prefer the style, technique, etc. of some other writers over that of Rand, but that certainly is only on a "personal preference" level and I will always prefer Rand's ideas.

Another criticism of Rand--she knew what values and ideas she wanted to demonstrate, and she built situations and characters around them and demonstrated them thoroughly. This methodology automatically leads her writing to feel a bit "preachy" as some call it--I would call it "teachy" myself. This methodology, technique, and feel don't make her writing inferior--they make it different, and although I enjoy the feel of her writings better than a vast majority of writers, there are again some whose works feel to me far better on a personal preference level.

I haven't mentioned plot and setting--other important characteristics of a story--but I must say that Rand was great on both--she didn't write stories that kept you on the edge of your seat as those of Dan Brown do, but she still did very well.

P.S. to address Inspector: Thanks for questioning my wording in my last post, that is good for me and I hope I've answered some of your questions. Personally I don't consider myself an Objectivist because I can't say necessarily that I agree with every single aspect of Objectivism and although it seems to be a complete system, I think there may be more (especially on a personal level) that should be added (seperately, of course, since it's a closed system)--after all, I haven't read all of Rand's works even--but I do agree with well over 95% of Objectivism at least.

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To divide the human race into two classes, heroes and villains, would obviously create unrealistic characters

See, but as you seem to later acknowledge (right?), this is not the case. Such an attitude may result from a superficial reading of the book: skimming, reading the cliff notes, or doing it while tired or intoxicated or in a hurry or something... But to someone who has actually READ the book, that statement is perplexing: EVERY major character has at least one example of an agonizing choice to make. Dagny, Francisco, and Galt, to name a few! (Galt, even, makes a choice that costs him quite a bit!) Did you simply FORGET the scene where the younger Francisco almost aborts his participation in the strike to stay with the younger Dagny?

And what's this about dividing the human race into "two classes?" (in the intrinsic way that you imply) What about the myriad of characters that fall in between the strikers and the looters? The wet nurse for example, starts a villain and ends a hero. (of sorts)

--characters who, on the one hand are too "coldly rational" (by that I meant, earlier, characters who are perfect and don't experience a variety of moral dillemas, compromises, and emotions to which normal people can relate)

First, I can relate to their "cold rationality."

But they were hardly "cold" throughout the book. I can remember them in scenes of passion, rage, sorrow, and the entire gamut of emotion. When you put it that way, you sound like the idiots in the media with their cries of "robot!" If you're not being malicious, then you shouldn't speak like that as it makes you look bad. That covers "emotions."

As to "moral dilemmas," again, I don't know how you can say that they don't have them. Hank and his family? Francisco leaving Dagny? Galt risking his life to be with Dagny? I mean come on! The book is RIFE with them!

Now as to "compromises," though my life may have, in its past, contained compromises, why would I want them in my literature? Maybe if I was one of those pitiful specimens who had long since sold out and given up on life, I would want literature to have compromises so I could delude myself into believing that "I COULDN'T HELP IT!!!" But you know what? I don't LIKE compromises. I never have, even when I engaged in them. They left a bad taste in my mouth. So WHY would I want them in my LITERATURE? That's supposed to be my fuel!

I've read plenty of literature with "compromises" and my reaction has always been disgust and boredom. I once yelled out loud at a book, "idiot!" You WANT compromises, moral ambiguity, and less-than-perfect characters?!? Go read "Catcher in the Rye" (that's the book I yelled at, BTW. I HATE that piece of garbage)

and who on the other hand are so evil that again, we cannot relate to them.
That's because you aren't SUPPOSED to relate to them! The idea of the "relatable" villain is a phenomenon of altruism's destruction of the hero. Because altruistic heros are wimps/idiots people have taken to making the villains "cool." But it doesn't have to be that way.

Yes, Rand tried to portray her vision of the ideal or "perfect" (as much as possible) man--John Galt, for example--and this is a man to whom I cannot relate.

I find that surprising and a little confusing. You can't relate to the scene where he walks out on the 20th century motor division? You can't relate to a man standing alone against the world? Knowing that he is right and everyone else is wrong? Standing up to authority?

Odd. It's quite a popular theme in modern film.

Or did you mean that you had to be able to COMPLETELY relate to him on EVERY level? I ask, what kind of hero would he be if he wasn't something to look up to?

This problem seems to have a greater tendency to occur with the works of Rand; writers like Victor Hugo, for example, use characters that one relates to and remembers vividly from the first encounter with them onward.
Odd, considering you said your problem was that you remembered Galt, Francisco, et all so vividly that you forgot the minor characters. Think about it.

I personally prefer the style, technique, etc. of some other writers over that of Rand, but that certainly is only on a "personal preference" level and I will always prefer Rand's ideas.

Again odd. Her style, technique, etc. are perfectly in accordance with her ideas. Most people who agree with her ideas rather appreciate her style. Perhaps that 5% or her ideas you don't agree with is bigger than you thought. Or maybe it's just a really significant 5%.

This methodology automatically leads her writing to feel a bit "preachy" as some call it--I would call it "teachy" myself.  This methodology, technique, and feel don't make her writing inferior
Aside from Galt's speech, I don't know how she is any more "preachy" (or "teachy") than ANY other non-naturalistic writer I've ever seen. Maybe if you're expecting a book with no message, no plot, and a jumbled mess of "ordinary" people who go nowhere, do nothing, and finish the book more confused than they start, you may be surprised by AS.

P.S. to address Inspector:  Thanks for questioning my wording in my last post, that is good for me and I hope I've answered some of your questions.

You have, but I must say your answers have raised a few more questions than you have answered.

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Inspector, I take serious offense in the way you maliciously responded to what I've written. I think we should be able to criticize what another person says without being openly hostile and twisting bits of things they've said to make them look bad. That being said, I am going to continue to defend myself, but I've said what I wanted to say and I feel obligated to do this to further defend my honor and my position.

And what's this about dividing the human race into "two classes?" (in the intrinsic way that you imply) What about the myriad of characters that fall in between the strikers and the looters? The wet nurse for example, starts a villain and ends a hero. (of sorts)

If you would carefully read my entire post before responding, you'll see that I cover that. I said specifically that the perception that Rand divides her characters into two classes is immature.

First, I can relate to their "cold rationality."

But they were hardly "cold" throughout the book. I can remember them in scenes of passion, rage, sorrow, and the entire gamut of emotion. When you put it that way, you sound like the idiots in the media with their cries of "robot!" If you're not being malicious, then you shouldn't speak like that as it makes you look bad. That covers "emotions."

As to "moral dilemmas," again, I don't know how you can say that they don't have them. Hank and his family? Francisco leaving Dagny? Galt risking his life to be with Dagny? I mean come on! The book is RIFE with them!

None of these are moral dilemmas--sure, they kind of seemed to be to the characters, but since they are all perfect Objectivists, you know exactly what choice they will make eventually, every time. And there is such a thing as a moral dilemma for which Objectivism does not provide an obvious choice between this or that---it just doesn't happen to these characters. Rand illustrates her points this way sometimes and I'm not saying that it's inferior; I'm saying that I personally prefer characters that are slightly different.

Now as to "compromises," though my life may have, in its past, contained compromises, why would I want them in my literature? Maybe if I was one of those pitiful specimens who had long since sold out and given up on life, I would want literature to have compromises so I could delude myself into believing that "I COULDN'T HELP IT!!!" But you know what? I don't LIKE compromises. I never have, even when I engaged in them. They left a bad taste in my mouth. So WHY would I want them in my LITERATURE? That's supposed to be my fuel!

I've read plenty of literature with "compromises" and my reaction has always been disgust and boredom. I once yelled out loud at a book, "idiot!" You WANT compromises, moral ambiguity, and less-than-perfect characters?!? Go read "Catcher in the Rye" (that's the book I yelled at, BTW. I HATE that piece of garbage)

I wasn't even talking about "moral compromises"--I was talking about compromises that even Objectivists must make in everyday life. And there you go, writing two paragraphs and insulting me throughout, over a single word.

Odd, considering you said your problem was that you remembered Galt, Francisco, et all so vividly that you forgot the minor characters. Think about it.

I didn't say that, I did think about it, and I stand by my position.

Again odd. Her style, technique, etc. are perfectly in accordance with her ideas. Most people who agree with her ideas rather appreciate her style. Perhaps that 5% or her ideas you don't agree with is bigger than you thought. Or maybe it's just a really significant 5%.

To make the comment that my preference was "odd" would have been acceptable, although odd in itself since I clearly explained why I prefer what I do in this case. But the rest of this remark is entirely out of place--this forum is not a place people come to to read your comments that insult others.

Aside from Galt's speech, I don't know how she is any more "preachy" (or "teachy") than ANY other non-naturalistic writer I've ever seen. Maybe if you're expecting a book with no message, no plot, and a jumbled mess of "ordinary" people who go nowhere, do nothing, and finish the book more confused than they start, you may be surprised by AS.

You shouldn't state this so harshly without at least qualifying the statement! I know LOTS of other non-naturalistic writers that have a syle quite unlike Rand's, Hugo as one of a bunch of potential examples.

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