Ayn Rand, 1905-1982: Americans Still Debate Her Books and Ideas
Her two most famous books are "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged"
I'm Steve Ember.
And I'm Barbara Klein with People in America in VOA Special English. Today we tell about the life and writings of Ayn Rand.
Although she died more than twenty-five years ago, many Americans still argue about Ayn Rand. More than twenty million copies of her books have been sold around the world. Many people say her books are poorly written. But people still buy hundreds of thousands of copies of them each year. People also continue to talk about her ideas and her interesting life.
In nineteen-oh-five, Alisa Rosenbaum was born in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg. As a young child, Alisa loved books. She began to write her own stories when she was only seven years old.
When the Russian Revolution began in nineteen seventeen, the Rosenbaum family fled to the Russian state of Crimea. This experience was important in Alisa's life. It started her hatred of collectivism. Collectivism is the system of ownership and control of the means of production by the people collectively, usually under the supervision of a government.
After the revolution, Alisa returned to Saint Petersburg, now called Petrograd, to attend college. She took classes in politics, history, law, and writing. In nineteen twenty-six, she traveled to the United States to visit family members.
Soon after she arrived in the United States, Alisa decided she would never leave. She also decided to change her name to "Ayn Rand." She said "Rand" was taken from the Russian alphabet spelling of "Rosenbaum." She said she chose "Ayn" after the name of a writer from Finland.
Newly named, Rand moved to Hollywood, California to work in the movie business. She met and married actor Frank O'Connor in nineteen twenty-nine. Throughout the nineteen thirties, O'Connor acted and Rand wrote. She published two books during these years, but did not earn much critical or popular recognition.
Then, in nineteen forty-three, Rand's famous book "The Fountainhead" was published. It took her seven years to write the novel. Twelve publishers rejected the book. However, a man named Archibald Ogden loved the story and convinced the Bobbs-Merrill company to publish it. "The Fountainhead" became a huge success around the world. It has sold more than six million copies. It continues to sell about one hundred thousand copies each year.
"The Fountainhead" tells the story of a young building designer named Howard Roark. Roark wants to build interesting, modern-looking buildings. However, most people only want to see traditional designs. Roark loves designing and building more than anything in the world. But he refuses to compromise and make buildings he hates. Several people work against Roark and his goals. But in the end, Roark succeeds.