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Defending Ayn Rand

September 21, 1986

I take exception to reviewer Carolyn See's premise that Ayn Rand's atheism was the stumbling block for her inability to foresee that one "reaps what one sows" in her affair with Nathaniel Branden. Adultery, with or without intellectual justification, is not indigenous to atheism.

In "The Passion of Ayn Rand," Barbara Branden must be commended for her surprisingly unbiased account of her husband's affair. Branden's initial fault (since corrected) was of misguided loyalty and blind allegiance in believing Rand to be as idealistically immaculate as the heroines in her own fiction. The events in Rand's personal life illustrate vividly that her objectivist philosophy is tidy only in novel form. In "reality" there are always loopholes. Had Branden put a more selfish interpretation upon her mentor's teachings, she would have left Nathaniel in pursuit of her own happiness and refused to endure 14 years of emotional torment.

Rand should not be condemned for initiating the affair between herself and Nathaniel Branden. Who wouldn't jump at the chance to explore the physical side of a person one perceives to be an intellectual equal? Rand's degradation and the collapse of her own moral code were a result of her aberrant egoism. Her behavior was vindictive and petty when she publicly discredited Branden at the end of their affair. The Sour Grapes Syndrome may be conquerable in fiction, but not in real life.

Rand was a vulnerable woman first, and a rational philosopher second; but an incomparable novelist nonetheless.

KATHY CHARLES

Burbank

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