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This study examines Ayn Rand's 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. Rand's skeptical heroes are the most interesting of her canon. Rand's "The Fountainhead" is a blend of Friedrich Nietzsche's philosophy of the Superman and the typical American capitalist hero. Gail Wynand, Rand's most Nietzschean character, is her true hero and Dominique is her true villain. Rand's fiction doesn't 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 'common man' aspect. Rand's capitalists are rebels with the American idea, that, in pursuit of their excessive selfish desires-- the sky's the limit. Randian heroes—anti-heroes of productive work, have continually re-emerged in American popular culture. Rand's fiction is popular because it's 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.
British Literature, American Culture, Ayn Rand, Twentieth century literature, Twentieth century culture, American Literature, Pop Culture, Popular literature, American Pop Culture
Date of Defense
Date of Defense: October 30, 2006.
A Dissertation submitted to the Department of English in partial Fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
Includes bibliographical references.
Florida State University
Powell, R. L. (2006). Ayn Rand's Heroes: Between and Beyond Good and Evil. Retrieved from http://purl.flvc.org/fsu/fd/FSU_migr_etd-0452