Type of Document Dissertation Author Powell, Robert Lee Author's Email Address firstname.lastname@example.org URN etd-11072006-172356 Title Ayn Rand's Heroes: Between and Beyond Good and Evil Degree Doctor of Philosophy Department English, Department of Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title Douglas Fowler Committee Chair Caroline Committee Member Dr. Caroline "Kay" Picart Committee Member John Fenstermaker Committee Member William Cloonan Committee Member Keywords
- British Literature
- American Culture
- Ayn Rand
- twentieth century literature
- twentieth century culture
- American Literature
- Pop Culture
- Popular literature
- American Pop Culture
Date of Defense 2006-10-30 Availability unrestricted AbstractABSTRACT
This study examines Ayn Randís fiction in relation to twentieth century literature and culture. Despite its linguistic potential, "The Fountainhead" is not good art and does not represent romantic fiction as Rand claims. It is truly her own reactionary prose which rebels against literary movements she hated such as naturalism.
Rand's philosophy of Objectivism is really a right-wing form of Existentialism and Marxism. Ayn Rand and George Orwell both endured shocking life experiences which shaped their ideas and fiction. Rand learned extreme capitalism while Orwell learned skepticism. Randís skeptical heroes are the most interesting of her canon.
Randís "The Fountainhead" is a blend of Friedrich Nietzscheís philosophy of the Superman and the typical American capitalist hero. Gail Wynand, Randís most Nietzschean character, is her true hero and Dominique is her true villain. Randís fiction doesnít fit easily into any specific literary genres. Therefore, popular writers, such as Mickey Spillane and Edna Ferber may have been influenced by Rand. Furthermore, similar tendencies of her work can also be seen in choice literature novels of Simone deBeauvoir, Toni Morrison and Joyce Carol Oates.
As a capitalist novel, "The Fountainhead" sits among an unappreciated group of works by the literary establishment which should be understood-- if not embraced. The 1943 work portrays capitalist heroes without their loveable Ďcommon maní aspect. Randís capitalists are rebels with the American idea, that, in pursuit of their excessive selfish desires-- the skyís the limit.
Randian heroesóanti-heroes of productive work, have continually re-emerged in American popular culture. Randís fiction is popular because itís entertaining trash that Americans love. Loveable common man tycoons such as Bill Gates and the late Sam Walton have turned into the anti-heroic Don King and the late Ken Lay. Anti-heroic icons such as Gordon Gekko of the film "Wall Street", in the Randian tradition, show us the ugly but true side of American capitalist culture that is important for us to expose, admit and examine.
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