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Michero
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I didn't read all of the posts here, so sorry if I'm repeating what's already been said.

But I think the best analyses of why people dislike Rand's writings were given by Ayn Rand herself. In _The Romantic Manifesto_, _The Art of Fiction_, and _The Art of Nonfiction_, Miss Rand gives thorough, even generous (in quantity) explanations and insights into the schools of writing and criticism opposed to her style, why they are opposed, and why she wrote the way she did anyway.

The most common reason I've seen for people to criticize Rand is that she was not a Naturalist-- she was a Romanticist. That means she projected characters and events that were essentialized "as they should be and ought to be," rather than a journalistic survey of things as they usually are.

For a deeper analyses of why people are ideologically opposed to Rand's style of writing, see the criticisms of Roark's architecture by Ellsworth Toohey in _The Fountainhead_. The type of person who would be opposed to Objectivism would also naturally be opposed to any projection of the exceptional, the unusual, or the heroic in man, whether in architecture, literature, music, or whatever.

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Inspector, I take serious offense in the way you maliciously responded to what I've written.

*shrugs* I thought I was using a lot of restraint and giving you a great deal of the benefit of doubt. Like I said, I am more *confused* by your position than anything else.

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.
Hopefully, you will appreciate the benefit of my pushing you to make that explicit.

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.

It depends on what you mean by "moral dilemmas." If you mean "inherantly unsolvable moral dilemmas," then no. But I sense you mean something else. What, exactly?

And you will notice that the ones that are "perfect Objectivists" are barely ever the focus of the book, to preserve the mystery of course. John Galt is not even a confirmed human being until most of the way through. Francisco is playing the role of a playboy. You don't quite know what he's up to. Surely you know this. How many times did you say you read the book? If it's been a number of times, you may be inadvertantly forgetting the mysteries.

And even that forgets about, say, Hank Rearden. How many momemts are there with either him or Dagny where you're practically screaming at the book, "oh, no! Don't do that Hank!" (but, like in a good soap opera, you know he will anyway!) How about when Dagny was this close to staying in the valley when that news broadcast about the trains comes in and you know she's going to give it another try? Have you forgotten that?

Or did you not include Hank and Dagny as the "perfect" characters? If not, could you list which ones were "perfect?" You make it sound like there are a lot of them and they are prominent, but I recall that the really good ones were shadowy and mysterious until the third act.

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. 
Wouldn't that merely distract from the theme of the book? If such a thing were in the book, wouldn't it have just made it a worse book?

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.

Don't take it so personally. I was railing against modern literature there, mostly, and not you. I assumed you'd get my point and say, "oh, well, of course not."

But if not moral compromises, then what? What kind of compromises were missing? Can you give an example?

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

Yes, you did. Right here:

The ones I remember the most clearly--John Galt, Howard Roark, etc., did [sic] 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.

How can you remember them "most clearly" and have them "stand out" while at the same time being unable to "remember [them] vividly from the first encounter with them onward?"

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.
How is it insulting for me to posit that perhaps you disagree with Miss Rand more than you had earlier thought? Or that, while quantitatively small, your disagreement was qualitatively large? Listen, I'm not psychologizing you here, I merely presented a possibility that might explain an oddity.

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.

But it seems to me that you've missed my point: that all non-naturalistic writing has a "moral" to "preach" or "teach" or whatever. And any non-naturalistic work that's worth its salt (i.e. not deliberately nebulous) makes its message QUITE clear to the reader. And that excepting the speech by Galt, I don't see that AS stands out as particularly more or less "preachy" than any other non-naturalistic work that I've seen. (the only difference being that unlike the vast majority of other works, I actually like what Atlas has to say!)

Edited by Inspector
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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.

Heh, I could not disagree with you more. The writing style enhances the reading expirence of the novel. The slow revelations of the events of the past allow for the climax of Snowden's fate to be realised by the end of the novel. I find the forays into the past of the numerous characters on the island to be well done (Major Major Major Major) and the novel is full of many episodes which are well written and which expose the stupidity of the situation with fantastic comedic flair (The Glorious Loyalty Oath Crusade).

It is very different fron the FH, but it has a different purpose from the FH. Joseph Heller is crafting a fictional world and the numerous characters who are caught up in it, and he does it so very well. He also wants his writing style (not entirely logical) to mirror the world which the characters are caught up in (not entirely logical)

The FH of course is different, it is not only Romanticist, but it also needs to prove Ayn Rand's point, so it is methodical and logical. It is chronological because it benefits Ayn Rand's objective to make a point that way. Peter Keating and Howard Roark graduate, we see them both go off into the world, and we see Roark succede and Keating fail. It is an essential zero-sum approach which is necessary to get Ayn Rand's message across to the reader and to impress just how uncompromising Roark has to be.

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The FH of course is different, it is not only Romanticist, but it also needs to prove Ayn Rand's point, so it is methodical and logical. It is chronological because it benefits Ayn Rand's objective to make a point that way.

No, it is methodical and logical because that is the method Ayn believes creates the best literature--conscious clear descriptions and time frames for maximum comprehension and drama. The fact that her philosophy clearly grasped through clear writing is a product of her philosophy. It is chronological because she believed that is the best way to tell a story; to not confuse readers.

Ayn didn't write the FH as a way to get her philosophy out there-- her philosophy developed (explicitly developed) as a result of her trying to write the best book, and best characters possible. It wasn't a propaganda novel.

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No, it is methodical and logical because that is the method Ayn believes creates the best literature--conscious clear descriptions and time frames for maximum comprehension and drama.  The fact that her philosophy clearly grasped through clear writing is a product of her philosophy.  It is chronological because she believed that is the best way to tell a story; to not confuse readers.

Are you saying that because of the methods she selected that the novel is good? Because I would argue that it is the way the author is able to utilize the technique or method. A chronological piece of literature is not automatically the best piece of literature, and a conscious clear description does not necessarily make great literature either. The technique does not stand on its own, its the way the author uses the technique. (And Rand does of course, use the technique well)

Ayn didn't write the FH as a way to get her philosophy out there-- her philosophy developed (explicitly developed) as a result of her trying to write the best book, and best characters possible.  It wasn't a propaganda novel.

Propaganda is defined by dictionary.com as "The systematic propagation of a doctrine or cause or of information reflecting the views and interests of those advocating such a doctrine or cause" and I have to say that The FH is definately a systematic propagation of a belief system that would form Objectivism. It is systematic because we see the development of the numerous characters as they make their choices in the novel, and those who makes choices along the Objectivist belief do well, and those who don't do not. I would normally never call The FH "Propaganda" though in most other settings, since that term "Propaganda", due to the history of 20th century totalitarian rulers, has come to mean intentinally misleading people from the truth, which is hardly what The FH does.

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Are you saying that because of the methods she selected that the novel is good?

No that wasn't what I was trying to say. I was trying to say that Ayn herself believed chronologically told stories and clearly constructed sentences to be the best way to tell a story: that is the reason she uses those methods.

The technique does not stand on its own, its the way the author uses the technique.

I don't believe I ever disagreed with that.

  I have to say that The FH is definately a systematic propagation of a belief system that would form Objectivism. 

Yeah but that's because the author was an Objectivist, and her characters implicitly reflect her philosophy. Of course the characters who display the Objectivist ideals will (in the right circumstances) succeed and those who go against the philosophy will fail. But her purpose was not to spread her philosophy; it was to tell a story. The transmission and acceptance of her philosophy was a secondary benefit.

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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? 

Rand can be a competent writer, especially – as mentioned -- of dialogue. But she can also be terribly clunky. I guess it’s obvious, but good writing is a matter of using words that most effectively convey one’s meaning. To show this, one could compare one writer’s expressions with another’s. Below are two pieces of fiction writing:

1. “Francisco looked silently out at the darkness. The fire of the mills was dying down. There was only a faint tinge of red left on the edge of the earth, just enough to outline the scraps of clouds ripped by the tortured battle of the storm in the sky. Dim shapes kept sweeping through space and vanishing, shapes which were branches, but looked as if they were the fury of the wind made visible.”

2. And: “On the eve of his departure Luzhin stood on the tiny balcony of his room in his long nightshirt and looked at the moon, which was tremblingly disengaging itself from some black foliage…..

But the moon emerged from behind the angular black twigs, a round full-bodied moon – a vivid confirmation of victory – and when finally Luzhin left the balcony and stepped back into his room, there on the floor lay an enormous square of moonlight, and in that light – his own shadow.”

Both these passages appeal to natural imagery in order to convey their respective themes. In (1), the theme is the collapse of civilisation, in (2), the theme of a man on the threshold of major changes in his life. The question is: which passage provides the more memorable images, which passage best illustrates its themes, and why?

In the Rand passage, there are three images: the faint tinge of red, the scraps of clouds and the sweeping branches. If she had made use of these images to convey her theme, to show rather than tell, the passage may have had some visual force.

But she is not a skilled enough writer to make effective use these images. For example, “There was only a faint tinge of red” is a plodding and fuzzy way to introduce an image, because Rand clearly didn’t – or couldn’t – think of a way to show this in a more convincingly dramatic way. So she tells us about this faint tinge of red, rather than showing it to us.

Which means that when she wants to express something strongly – a mighty storm perhaps -- she resorts to the purple prose of “ripped by the tortured battle of the storm in the sky”. This doesn’t show us anything. It merely tells us that there was this storm, and it was really, really bad.

The second passage tells of foreboding and/or promise. The hero is about to experience two life-changing events, and he has mixed feelings about the future, which are shown via homely but visually dramatic touches.

In the way that the storm acts as a metaphor for Rand’s scene, the moon here acts as a symbol of the hero’s feeling about his destiny. He feels trapped – “tremblingly disengaging” – but while he’s standing on the balcony he considers his situation, and in the concluding paragraph he feels confident about his future, forcefully conveyed through “vivid confirmation” and visualised in the “enormous square of moonlight”.

The second passage also shows a skilled use of visual touches. Where Rand says that something looks like something else -- “but looked as if they were the fury of the wind”, the other writer describes what something actually looks like – “angular black twigs”.

He is also sparing but effective in the placement of adjectives – the “tiny” balcony”, “long” nightshirt”, “round, full-bodied” moon. These constitute small domestic strokes, in contrast to Rand’s Wagnerian habit of piling description upon description.

.

I think this brief analysis shows that while Rand has some skills as a writer, they are insufficient to place her in the top ranks of writers.

Eddie

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Eddie, You say that Ayn Rand's description is metaphorical rather than visual. Are you saying that a good writer would be able to have the reader visualize the storm....

... 1) and still retain the metaphor

or

... 2) losing part of the metaphor in the process

Which of these? or something else?

Edited by softwareNerd
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Inspector--I have to say that in our earlier exchange you have me beat. I couldn't express what I wanted to express clearly, and that just shows that I was trying to express a feeling and not more solid ideas. Also, I think you've proven that I need to read AS again :lol: and be more precise with my wording.

To respond to the more recent discussion: I do think that Rand has serious flaws when it comes to her descriptions of how things look. Eddie has cited a good example and I could find more. However, she was able to convey metaphorical meaning through surroundings and nature--think about the "torch" in AS.

And I think that Rand does belong among the ranks of the very best writers, because I think her ideas and her ability to express them so clearly in literature make up for the flaws she has.

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Eddie, You say that Ayn Rand's description is metaphorical rather than visual. Are you saying that a good writer would be able to have the reader visualize the storm....

... 1)  and still retain the metaphor

or

... 2) losing part of the metaphor in the process

Which of these? or something else?

I know that the question was not directed at me, but I'd like to state my opinion.

I think a good writer would have been able to convey a more vivid visualization of the storm and still fully retain the metaphor.

To prove this, I've tried rewriting the passage.

Francisco looked silently out at the darkness. The fire of the mills was dying down. There was only a faint tinge of red left on the edge of the earth, just enough to outline the scraps of clouds ripped by the tortured battle of the storm in the sky. Dim shapes kept sweeping through space and vanishing, shapes which were branches, but looked as if they were the fury of the wind made visible.

Francisco looked sliently out at the darkness, broken only by the tinge of the dying fires of the mills on the horizon.  By the light of the fires he was just able to see the black clouds being ripped by a violent storm, and tree branches being slashed mercilessly back and forth by the seemingly living fury of the wind.

I think my version is better visually because it clears up some questions presented by the original passage (while retaining the metaphor of the storm representing the battle being waged between those who think rationally and those who don't, the downfall of Taggart Transcontinental, the characters' passions, etc), such as:

:lol: Is the red tinge caused by the mills or by the setting sun?

:confused: If there is a tinge bright enough to illuminate the clouds and branches, how can he be looking into darkness?

:confused: How exactly can a tree branch be seen as a "dim shape," and what does a "dim shape" look like anyway?

You all may not agree that my passage proves my point; after all, I'm not a professional writer by any means. If you agree with me that a better passage can be written, though, I'd like to encourage you all to try it, as I have.

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Eddie, You say that Ayn Rand's description is metaphorical rather than visual. Are you saying that a good writer would be able to have the reader visualize the storm....

... 1)  and still retain the metaphor

or

... 2) losing part of the metaphor in the process

Which of these? or something else?

It’s not a matter of either metaphor or description, but both. Rand is using a visual metaphor, just not very well, because her description relies heavily on telling rather than showing.

In answer to your question, I agree with (1). In the second passage, the moon is a metaphor for the hero’s state of mind, and it’s an active and visual metaphor: “…the moon emerged from behind the angular black twigs, a round full-bodied moon…”. The metaphor carries the meaning, without losing its visual impact.

Rand does OK with her “…scraps of clouds ripped…”, which is visual enough, if somewhat passive, but then she really drops the ball by over-dosing on the adjectives, while her other imagery is opaque. Also, “…scraps of clouds ripped…” does not convey the metaphor, which is why Rand has to add something about a storm. Whereas the other writer’s metaphor is the brief but opulent “round full-bodied moon”.

Also compare “dim shapes” with “black foliage”. The latter is more concrete, and therefore more sharply visual, which adds substance to the metaphor, while also helping to illustrate the meaning, that of the moon being ensnared by something sinister.

Also compare verbs:

1. “looked”, “was”, “dying down”, “was…left”, “outline”, “ripped”, “sweeping”, “vanishing”, “were”, “looked as if”, “were”, “made.”

2. “stood”, “looked”, “was”, “disengaging”, “emerged”, “left”, “stepped”, “lay”.

Rand is heavy on superfluous words – two “was’s” and two “weres” against the second writer’s one “was”; too many of these sorts of words reveal a writer who is struggling to put her vision on paper. The second writer’s verbs are also more active than Rand’s – and there are fewer of them in a passage that is slightly longer.

So again, Rand’s writing doesn’t bear comparison with at least one other 20th century writer.

Eddie

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Inspector--I have to say that in our earlier exchange you have me beat.  I couldn't express what I wanted to express clearly, and that just shows that I was trying to express a feeling and not more solid ideas.  Also, I think you've proven that I need to read AS again  :lol: and be more precise with my wording.

Glad I could help! If there's two things we all should do, they might as well be reading Atlas again and be more precise with our wording. (that goes for me, too!)

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So again, Rand’s writing doesn’t bear comparison with at least one other 20th century writer.

I disagree completely.

The passage you quoted from Atlas Shrugged is from page 143. (Please give us page numbers if you quote Miss Rand again.) It occurs during a conversation between Rearden and Francisco. Francisco is about to make the crucial point to Rearden that he is saving a great many people from the violence of a storm.

So Miss Rand gives us exactly what Francisco sees and its significance in the context of what he is about to tell Rearden. Nature is not presented as having intrinsic importance; it is important only in relation to man.

Francisco looked silently out at the darkness. The fire of the mills was dying down. There was only a faint tinge of red left on the edge of the earth, just enough to outline the scraps of clouds ripped by the tortured battle of the storm in the sky. Dim shapes kept sweeping through space and vanishing, shapes which were branches, but looked as if they were the fury of the wind made visible.
The purpose of this passage is not to suggest the collapse of civilization. The purpose is simply to suggest the essence of natural fury -- and what it would do to men not protected by civilization.

Miss Rand, the romanticist, is about to tell us something significant about man in relation to nature.

Contrast that with what is suggested by the other passage:

“On the eve of his departure Luzhin stood on the tiny balcony of his room in his long nightshirt and looked at the moon, which was tremblingly disengaging itself from some black foliage…..

But the moon emerged from behind the angular black twigs, a round full-bodied moon – a vivid confirmation of victory – and when finally Luzhin left the balcony and stepped back into his room, there on the floor lay an enormous square of moonlight, and in that light – his own shadow.”

I need the full context to properly judge this passage. However, it appears that the focus here is on the action and attributes of nature -- the motion of the moon and its light -- which have no relation to man in any importance sense. And to suggest that the moon is an appropriate metaphor for someone's mind is to suggest that victory depends on something like inexorable, orbital mechanics, not human virtue.

Personally, I detest this sort of writing. Tell me something important about man's life, and do so by reference to his choices and their consequences.

Edited to remove a word.

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Personally, I detest this sort of writing.

That’s fine. It’s not to everybody’s taste. I’m not entirely sold on this author myself, but he can write well, and so act as a point of comparison.

In regard to the storm metaphor in Atlas Shrugged, metaphors don’t have to have single meanings – that’s what makes them powerful literary tools.

As for your other points, in general you’re talking about the appropriateness of the metaphor, whereas I’m talking about the quality of the writing, as requested by the original poster. In order to assess writing quality, you need to analyse its parts – that is, its use of words – as I have done.

Eddie

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In order to assess writing quality, you need to analyse its parts – that is, its use of words – as I have done.

Analysis? All I see are out-of-context, unsupported assertions.

For instance, consider this:

Rand does OK with her “…scraps of clouds ripped…”, which is visual enough, if somewhat passive, but then she really drops the ball by over-dosing on the adjectives..."
To make this stand, you must present and validate some standard for judging the number of adjectives a passage may contain. Then you must show that Rand's passage exceeds the standard. Otherwise, your statement is an empty assertion.

Or this:

Also compare “dim shapes” with “black foliage”. The latter is more concrete, and therefore more sharply visual..
Here, you are dropping context. Rand is not trying to give us a concrete, complete description of a storm. She is only giving us what Francisco can see out a window from inside a brilliantly lit room.

Or this:

The second passage also shows a skilled use of visual touches. Where Rand says that something looks like something else -- “but looked as if they were the fury of the wind”, the other writer describes what something actually looks like – “angular black twigs”.
Why is it okay for your author to say “something looks like something else” , i.e. why is it okay for your author to use a metaphor, but for Rand it becomes proof of a lack of “skilled visual touches”.

Or this:

Also compare verbs:

1. “looked”, “was”, “dying down”, “was…left”, “outline”, “ripped”, “sweeping”, “vanishing”, “were”, “looked as if”, “were”, “made.”

2. “stood”, “looked”, “was”, “disengaging”, “emerged”, “left”, “stepped”, “lay”.

Here you are comparing word choice from two completely different passages written, in all likelihood, to achieve different effects. That is a preposterous comparison. I could just as easily find passages in Atlas Shrugged with more active verbs than other passages in your author's work. This proves nothing.

In fact, the whole premise of your analysis is flawed:

Both these passages appeal to natural imagery in order to convey their respective themes. In (1), the theme is the collapse of civilization....

The question is: which passage provides the more memorable images, which passage best illustrates its themes, and why?

In the Rand passage, there are three images: the faint tinge of red, the scraps of clouds and the sweeping branches. If she had made use of these images to convey her theme, to show rather than tell, the passage may have had some visual force.

Rand's passage is not an attempt to convey the collapse of civilization. That is not even the theme of the entire novel. To judge that passage by that standard is non-sense. You are simply reaching for some way to criticize Rand's writing -- you are reaching and missing.

So again, Rand’s writing doesn’t bear comparison with at least one other 20th century writer.
You mean, in your opinion. If you do not like Miss Rand’s writing, fine. You are entitled to your opinion. But don’t try to pitch it like you have proved it. You have not even supported it.
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Here, you are dropping context.  Rand is not trying to give us a concrete, complete description of a storm.  She is only giving us what Francisco can see out a window from inside a brilliantly lit room.

As I say, my aim is to talk about the quality off the writing. Let’s check out the passage in question. “Dim shapes kept sweeping through space and vanishing, shapes which were branches, but looked as if they were the fury of the wind made visible.”

The construction “kept sweeping…vanishing” is stylistically weak, especially when compared with the more active “swept”. If Rand is trying to convey the urgency of a storm, she’s going about it in a very relaxed way. She also tells us these shapes are sweeping through “space”, a superfluous and unremarkable fact. But Rand needs “space” to go with “sweeping”.

Then we have a repetition of those formless “shapes”, which we only now learn are branches. This delay dulls the image, but Rand obliviously meanders on with “but looked as if they were the…” In effect, Rand is diluting the impact of her writing by spreading her meaning and imagery over too many words.

As for “something looks like something else”, that’s a simile, not a metaphor. My author doesn’t say that something looks like something else. He says something is something else: “a round full-bodied moon – a vivid confirmation of victory”. By comparison, Rand’s “…but looked as if they were…” is wordy and flaccid. While “my” writer is actually showing us something, Rand is still warming up.

And of course my views are my opinion. I‘ve never pretended otherwise. More importantly, you haven’t attempted to show why Rand’s passage demonstrates skillful writing.

Eddie

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As I say, my aim is to talk about the quality off the writing.

First you quote an important point I made. Then you proceed to ignore it. You cannot talk about the quality of the writing without considering the author's purpose.

Let’s check out the passage in question. “Dim shapes kept sweeping through space and vanishing, shapes which were branches, but looked as if they were the fury of the wind made visible.”

The construction “kept sweeping…vanishing” is stylistically weak, especially when compared with the more active “swept”. If Rand is trying to convey the urgency of a storm, she’s going about it in a very relaxed way. She also tells us these shapes are sweeping through “space”, a superfluous and unremarkable fact. But Rand needs “space” to go with “sweeping”.

Then we have a repetition of those formless “shapes”, which we only now learn are branches. This delay dulls the image, but Rand obliviously meanders on with “but looked as if they were the…” In effect, Rand is diluting the impact of her writing by spreading her meaning and imagery over too many words.

So, according to you, the passage should read:

Branches swept and vanished.
Anything more is weak, superfluous, unremarkable, formless, oblivious, meandering, diluted and dull. Sounds like someone overdosing on adjectives to me.

As for “something looks like something else”, that’s a simile, not a metaphor. My author doesn’t say that something looks like something else. He says something is something else: “a round full-bodied moon – a vivid confirmation of victory”. By comparison, Rand’s “…but looked as if they were…” is wordy and flaccid. While “my” writer is actually showing us something, Rand is still warming up.
So, your author never uses a simile, and any author who does is wordy and flaccid?

And of course my views are my opinion. I‘ve never pretended otherwise. More importantly, you haven’t attempted to show why Rand’s passage demonstrates skillful writing.
See post #38.

If you can read Atlas Shrugged and still demand proof that Rand is a skillful writer, nothing that I can say is going to make any difference.

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So, according to you, the passage should read: “Branches swept and vanished.”

I don’t recall suggesting that the passage should read like anything. But now that you’ve taken on an editing role, what you suggest is a definite improvement, although you could include a similar précis of the other thought about “the fury of the wind made visible.”

The problem here is that “made visible” is a mild, passively constructed phrase. That’s fine in some contexts, but not when teamed with “fury”. A furious wind doesn’t quietly make itself visible; it erupts into one’s senses. And then there’s the problem of the vanishing – the branches are said to be both vanishing and visible.

So I’m not sure how one could reconcile these two factors, but now that we’re on an editing kick, we could apply it to the whole passage: “Francisco looked out at the darkening plain. The fire of the mills was dying down. A faint tinge of red touched the edge of the earth, just enough to outline the scraps of clouds ripped by the storm. The wind howled. Branches swept and vanished.”

Not Nobel stuff, but a sight crisper. As for the use of similes, I made no judgement on them, since I have no problem with them. My comment was a correction of your misunderstanding, when you said: “Why is it okay for your author to say ‘something looks like something else’ , i.e. why is it okay for your author to use a metaphor…”

Now, of course, when one says that “something looks like something else” one is not using a metaphor, one is using a simile. My correction wasn’t a judgement on the use of similes.

Eddie

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As for “something looks like something else”, that’s a simile, not a metaphor.

That's incorrect. It's sometimes (though not always) understood that a simile is a kind of metaphor. But what you have here is neither simile nor metaphor. You're just describing what something looks like.

To be either a simile or a metaphor, the comparison has to do with the being or essence of the compared, which is why the word is if often seen in these forms of figurative language, but never the word looks.

As for rewriting the passages--I think your version Eddie is better than both Rand's and the one I suggested earlier in the thread, simply because it adds even more clarity with a more appropriate number of words (i.e. fewer) for the amount of detail that is conveyed.

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Now, of course, when one says that “something looks like something else” one is not using a metaphor, one is using a simile. My correction wasn’t a judgement on the use of similes.

Eddie

If I had said it was a simile, you would have said it was a metaphor; you would do this to change the subject, just as you changed the subject by saying, "Since you are into editing, blah blah blah" etc. You did this to evade the fact that you are using a double standard, just as you evade the fact that you are dropping context -- both of which you have done consistently in this thread.

It is clear now that your goal is not to discover the truth but rather to find fault with Miss Rand. You are really in the wrong forum for that. You should go over to SOLOHQ where you will find a whole collection of individuals positively lusting to find something, anything to discredit Rand.

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Still, AisA, regardless of why Eddie is here, don't you think the rewritten version of the passage is superior to Rand's?

The reason I think this is an important question is because if we can come up with something better than what she wrote, we can perhaps come closer to understanding why some people claim Rand has significant flaws as a writer.

*Edited to add last three words for clarity

Edited by valjean
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A simile is: A figure of speech in which two essentially unlike things are compared, often in a phrase introduced by like or as.

He who does not know the terms for figures of speech should not presume to edit Miss Rand's or any other author's work. So sayeth the moderator.

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A simile is: A figure of speech in which two essentially unlike things are compared, often in a phrase introduced by like or as.

He who does not know the terms for figures of speech should not presume to edit Miss Rand's or any other author's work.  So sayeth the moderator.

Who are you faulting? Me? I stand by what I said; the standard definition given in dictionaries is not a complete explanation, and to say something looks like something is not a simile, but simply a visual comparison.

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Still, AisA, regardless of why Eddie is here, don't you think the rewritten version of the passage is superior to Rand's?

I don't. Eddie has transformed a fluid paragraph into the sort of speech I would expect from a reporter asked what he saw out the window. Terseness is only a virtue in auctioneers and announcers.

An English teacher of mine once bemoaned the fact that good rhetoric is vanishing from this culture at an ever-increasing rate. "Four score and seven" really does roll off the tongue (not to mention the EAR) a lot better than "eighty-seven" or (ick) "ninety".

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Who are you faulting?  Me?  I stand by what I said; the standard definition given in dictionaries is not a complete explanation, and to say something looks like something is not a simile, but simply a visual comparison.

:) And you would be right, because it would not be a comparison of two things which are essentially unlike. If I say a dark sky looks like ink, I'm comparing things that are highly similar, hence, no simile. I was providing the definition for general purposes, jumpy.

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