Writing for Yahoo News, former National Review editor Maggie Gallagher has penned a rousing and insightful defense of Atlas Shrugged.
She rightly chastizes Terry Teachout for his silly assertion in National Review that Rand writes a pretty good potboiler, a plot “complete with sex scenes and a shoot-’em-up finale. No wonder that it has sold like soap for half a century.”
As Gallagher puts it: “Novels, even page-turning potboilers with lots of sex and gunplay, do not typically sell like soap, year-in and year-out, for half a century.” Atlas Shrugged, she points out, is currently the #1 selling book on Amazon in the category of “literature and fiction-classics.”
So why, then, does the novel continue to sell so well? Gallagher presents her own theory — and it’s a good one:
The key to Ayn Rand is that she pictured America largely from early films from Hollywood. As a young girl growing up in the grim world of communist Russia, she saw America as we dreamed ourselves to be, and she longed her whole life with a child’s intensity to make this vision real, to live in it. We respond to her novels because they offer us one deep strand of American self-identity — as individualists, yes, but individualists who together dream big dreams, conquer wild frontiers, invent the future, remake our very selves.
She understood, the way so many pampered Hollywood artists don’t, that much of the romance of America is in business — in our dreams of making it, by making big new things, things no man has ever made before. Rand is virtually alone in seeing businessmen as fellow artists: makers, creators, inventors. In her novels, the greatness of the artist was matched by the greatness of the architect, the scientist, the entrepreneur and the railroad executive. The Homer of our era, she sang the song by which so many Americans live our lives.
Well said. Read her full article for more.