Essays on Atlas

Amazon finally shipped my copy of Essays on Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. (Get the paperback, unless you’re willing to pay an exorbitant price for the hardback.) There’s a lot of good material in there, and I’ve just started to read through it. I enjoyed Jeff Britting’s chapter on adapting the novel for screen, based largely on Rand’s own advice.

The best essay I’ve read so far is Darryl Wright’s chapter on Rand’s development of ethics between her two big novels. In brief, she went from seeing independence as the primary virtue to crowning rationality. The shift places reality — one’s relationship with reality — at the forefront. And I hadn’t directly considered the fact that independence is a virtue possible only in relation to other people; without reference to others one can be neither independent (from others) or dependent (on others). That’s a big reason why rationality is primary: one must choose to think whether alone or in society.

Wright also reviews Rand’s development of the idea that morality arises only within the context of the choice to live. Good stuff.