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Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 2:08amSanction this postReply
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Great column, Barbara.

I cannot tell you specifically what details were cut; but I assure you they were unimportant and extraneous.
I have an old saying I can't... quite... recall.

Oh well, if I can't remember, it probably wasn't important.

Wait, that WAS the old saying. LOL

NH




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Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 2:39amSanction this postReply
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through endless unnecessary examples, of points I already had made
Well, I've only been curious about what might have been cut since about 1986.
 
You may not think many of those hitherto unreported incidents from Rand's life are of all that much interest, but would you grant many of her readers might find them so, even if the point they illustrate has already been amply made in the biography?
 
You ain't gettin' off that easy, Barbara! [casting spell from Harry Potter movie] You are hereby commanded and ordered to dredge up those old manuscript pages and cough up some unnecessary examples!!!




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Post 2

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 2:52amSanction this postReply
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What I did not mention, because I did not think that Fernís story would be questioned, was that I heard the identical story from Ayn.
Wait. That doesn't sound right.
 
My understanding per The Nonobjective Passion of Ayn Rand's Arbitrary, Malevolent Critics was that your account of how Rand thought up her name was pure arbitrariness on your part and a tip-of-the-iceberg manifestation of your essential malevolence. Now you say that you got it straight from the horse's mouth? I suppose you're also going to aver that you're not all that malevolent either. (Sigh.) Why, why did I put so much stock in that book? That will teach me.




Post 3

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 4:34amSanction this postReply
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Barbara,
Delightful anecdote about Anne Bancroft, always one of my favorite actresses. And one of the sexiest women in motion pictures, too.
Helen Mirren did a good job in the role, but Anne Bancroft would've been wonderful! Some actresses, like Merle Oberon for example, simply refuse to age.

I'd like to add my voice to David's about those parts of the manuscript describing Rand's childhood. Objectivists, Rand herself obviously, often minimize childhood experiences and views as significant for understanding the adult. But empirically, it's fairly obvious that these years are tremendously important. Please publish at least some of them somewhere.

And thank you for what you did publish.

My question for next week:
Q: Even for a novel of the length and complexity of Atlas Shrugged, 14 years is a long time for a single book. Since the Journal entries are modest in number, one has to wonder what Rand was doing all that time. Did she spend hours, days, weeks, simply thinking about the book and re-working it, or was much of her time consumed by other activities such as The Fountainhead adaptation? In other words, during that period, how many hours per day and days per week did Ayn Rand actually sit down and write, or at least think about what she was working on.

(For what it's worth, to those who may be beginning to fume, there's no implied criticism here; every writer works in his or her own way and at her own pace. But a low average for a professional novelist is about 2,000 words a day. At that rate, even allowing a few years for research and outlining, the novel would've typically been done in five years.  Of course, Atlas Shrugged isn't a typical novel.)

Jeff




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Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 5:03amSanction this postReply
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Thanks Barbara.

A wonderful read as always.

I am curious about the "typewriter" story.

What alternative version for the invention of her pen name do ARI propose?

What is their source of evidence for it?




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Post 5

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 5:31amSanction this postReply
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Marcus,

I don't know whether ARI has an official position on the name.However, Valliant presents strong evidence that the name did not come from the typewriter.  Rand used the name in Hollywood in 1926 (there was a studio pass with her name on it that year.)  The two companies that merged to make the typewriters didn't do so until 1927 and didn't make "Remington-Rand" typewriters until several years later.  If these facts are correct, there is no chance that the story is true.  Valliant postulates that Fern Brown sold the Brandens a bill of goods, and that they embellished it.

He comments on a theory of Berliner and Ralston that the name is from the cyrillic letters in Rand's original name, and provides some evidence for that position.  Valliant also says, "The new evidence appears to confirm what Rand told The New York Evening Post in 1936 and The Saturday Evening Post in the November 11, 1961, edition, namely, that 'Ayn Rand' is an 'abbreviation' of her Russian name."

This material is from pages 12-14 in The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics. 
 
Bill




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Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 8:23amSanction this postReply
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Jeff, Galt's speech took 2 years to write. I understand she worked very hard on that part of the novel. The novel was 2/3rds done when she moved back to New York. I don't think her overall productivity slacked off much. Also in the early stages of writing Atlas she could only devote six months a year to the novel because of her screenwriting contract. In any case, it did not take her 14 years for she didn't start the real day to day work in 1943, the year The Fountainhead was published.
 
--Brant




Post 7

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 9:47amSanction this postReply
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Thanks for the response Bill.

However, I do not doubt Barbara's honesty for one second.

If she is wrong then she must have been misled.




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Post 8

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 10:24amSanction this postReply
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Regarding the derivation of Rand's name: thanks for these details, Bill.

Valliant & Co. have inflated the oft-repeated tale of the typewriter into a Big Deal against the Brandens. But is it? Folks, I can barely remember most conversations from two days ago, let alone those that transpired many decades in the murky past, when detailed memories of who said what and to whom become hopelessly tangled. If the tale of Rand's typewriter is proved inaccurate, so what? What conceivable motive would the Brandens, or anyone else, have had in deliberately falsifying history on such a minor point?

One wonders instead: Why would Valliant wish to inflate into a moral issue the accuracy of the Brandens' recollection of conversations that occurred scores of years ago? Or have I just answered my own question?




Post 9

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 10:42amSanction this postReply
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Isn't it conceivable that Ayn Rand was just having a little fun with Fern Brown with a nice story about her name? Maybe. Maybe Fern Brown .... Who knows? Who could really care less? Sometimes trivia goes to far or, in some cases, as in Valliant's, turns cancerous.

--Brant




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Post 10

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 11:00amSanction this postReply
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Barbara,

The more I read you, the more of a fan I become.

You sure save your goodies, don't you? So now, since you have heard the typewriter comment directly from Ayn Rand and Valliant has so clearly shown that there was no such typewriter at the time she chose her name, you must be stating that either:

1. Ayn Rand was capable of succumbing to the itch all great artists have of embellishing events from their past, or (even worse)
2. Ayn Rand somehow convinced herself that this was true over time, since it sounded so good.

Oh my, oh my, oh my...

What is that rumbling in the distance?
Can you hear it?
The rhythm of the goose-stepping and the smell of blood in the air?
And the gradually swelling far-off cadence?

       Ayn - Rand - ne-ver - lied!
       We - will - have-your - hide!
       Ayn - Rand - ne-ver - lied!
       We - will - have-your - hide!

Prepare the trenches, folks.
 
The Randroids are coming! The Randroids are coming!

(I sort of feel like Paul Revere   //;-)

Michael




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Post 11

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 1:53pmSanction this postReply
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 Come on, everyone knows how Rand got her name. It came to her in a dream, there was flaming pie, and it said, "They shall be called the Silver Beat-"...

 Never mind.




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Post 12

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 2:12pmSanction this postReply
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All this talk of lying and name changes has reminded me of a quote from Rand that appears in Nathaniel Branden's *My Years with Ayn Rand*.

"[Nathaniel speaking]...I hadn't thought of any [names] as yet, except that I wanted to keep my initials. Ayn chuckled and said, 'All writers and criminals do that when they change their name. I did.'"


:-)



RCR



(Edited by R. Christian Ross
on 6/14, 2:15pm)




Post 13

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 2:46pmSanction this postReply
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>But a low average for a professional novelist is about 2,000 words a day.
 
Wow. That is news to me.
 
I think you're talking high end, not low end. It depends very much on the writer and what kind of novel he is writing. Many of the more prolific novelists put out a book a year, or a book every two years. Let's say the novel has 100,000 words. To get it done in one year would require 275 words per day. Now of course a novelist may be doing other things as well while he's working on his book, be interrupted by other writing projects, etc. But you're postulating as a "low average" a pretty generous level of production, if not quite Trollopian. With 2000 words a day the novel would be done in a couple months. Asimov could certainly write that fast...except that he could write nonfiction faster than he could write fiction. He said it took him in practice about 9 months to write a fair-sized novel.

(Edited by David M. Brown on 6/14, 3:07pm)




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Post 14

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 3:00pmSanction this postReply
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Isn't it conceivable that Ayn Rand was just having a little fun with Fern Brown with a nice story about her name?
 
And a little fun with Barbara Branden, who just reported, above, that Rand told her the same thing? (And as I've mentioned in another thread, another inner circler reported to me getting the same story from Rand.) The strongest possible case Valliant and ARI seem to have is that Rand herself got it wrong in gauzy memory. But again, it's a tempest in a thimble. It does nothing to show what the analytically comatose Valliant claims it shows, i.e., that Barabara was deliberately feeding her readers a patently implausible story just to practice being malevolent.




Post 15

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 4:20pmSanction this postReply
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Robert and David- Exactly the point. Why would Barbara make up the typewriter story? Why, for the fortune it would bring her- naturally!

I have read enough of Valliant's book to see that he planned to give the Branden's a fair trial, and then hang them.



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Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 7:08pmSanction this postReply
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David: "You ain't gettin' off that easy, Barbara! [casting spell from Harry Potter movie] You are hereby commanded and ordered to dredge up those old manuscript pages and cough up some unnecessary examples!!! "

Yes, sir. I'll see if I can find the old material and I'll include it in future columns.

Barbara




Post 17

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 7:14pmSanction this postReply
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David: "My understanding per The Nonobjective Passion of Ayn Rand's Arbitrary, Malevolent Critics was that your account of how Rand thought up her name was pure arbitrariness on your part and a tip-of-the-iceberg†manifestation of your essential malevolence."


Caught -- red-handed!

Barbara




Post 18

Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 9:22pmSanction this postReply
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Michael Kelly says:"
1. Ayn Rand was capable of succumbing to the itch all great artists have of embellishing events from their past,
2.Ayn Rand somehow convinced herself that this was true over time, since it sounded so good."

Yeah, SOMEHOW!

Do you have any examples of Ayn Rand making things up about herself?

Lets see, she tells the NY Evening Post it is an "abbreviation of her Russian name" in 1936. What year did she meet the Brandens in?

The only people in the world she tells this story to are Nate, Barbara and Fern, you know, "since it sounded so good."

Also I guess this "somehow" is why Barbara wrote, "Ayn never told her family in Russia the new name she had chosen." Ayn never talked about her family or the letters and didn't show any of the drawing they sent her?

I guess she also never told Barbara her fathers real name either because Fronz "sounded so good." 


P.S. Actually Barbara never said she "heard the typewriter comment directly from Ayn" in her book. Three years later N. Branden said Ayn told "us" but doesn't identify Barbara.







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Tuesday, June 14, 2005 - 9:55pmSanction this postReply
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Glenn writes (among other things):

 

Actually Barbara never said she "heard the typewriter comment directly from Ayn" in her book. Three years later N. Branden said Ayn told "us" but doesn't identify Barbara.

 

In the column to which these responses are a response, Barbara writes:

 

What I did not mention, because I did not think that Fernís story would be questioned, was that I heard the identical story from Ayn.

 

I submit that nobody on the planet earth, researching and writing a biography even of the wisdom and authority of The Passion of Ayn Rand--no matter how prescient, no matter how clairvoyant--could possibly have gained access to the kind of infallible crystal ball that would allow the author to anticipate in advance not only all possible corrections to her ground-breaking book, but also all possible ways any error, or minor or irrelevant omission, might be employed to "prove" the author's alleged manipulativeness or dishonesty.

 

The cavils, counter-cavils, and counter-counter-cavils are not adding up to any persuasive disproof of Barbara's conscientiousness in researching and crafting the story of Rand's life. If I were Barbara I would not be very inclined to respond at any length to even legitimate queries and observations, given the ill-tempered and gratuitous gotcha tone of much of the fault-finding. I don't need access to the parallel universe in which any particular one of these critics has written the first book-length treatment of Rand's life to know how it would compare to what Barbara has accomplished.

 

Let's try to remember that a) Barbara Branden did write the first-ever full-fledged biography of Ayn Rand, doing a masterful job; and b) Barbara Branden was not allowed access to the papers of Rand in possession of the Estate of Ayn Rand/Peikoff. It is a powerfully inspiring and informative book despite that lack of access. Is there any initial major biography in the history of biography that has not been in part corrected, updated, refined by later work with the benefit of further thinking, testimony, and documents?

 

Let's enlist a little perspective here.




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