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02/15/2005 Archived Entry: ""
I am looking forward to reading the much-anticipated book "The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics," which will be published in March by Durban House and shipped in April. [BTW, how Randian is the author's name -- James Valliant!?] Press Release here. The Durban House online announcement reads...
"For years, best-selling novelist and controversial philosopher Ayn Rand has been the victim of posthumous portrayals of her life and character taken from the pages of the biographies by Nathaniel Branden and Barbara Branden. Now, for the first time, Rand's own never-before-seen journal entries on the Brandens, and the first in-depth analysis of the Brandens' works, reveal the profoundly inaccurate and unjust depiction of their former mentor." The pre-publication flap makes a good point. Both Brandens were alienated from (or excommunicated by) Rand and, so, may be expected to take a more critical view of her behavior and attitudes than someone who had remained an intimate. (For example, some have criticized the portrayal of Rand's husband Frank as an alcoholic, claiming the label had no basis in fact.) Indeed, since the Brandens have a vested interest in some of the events portrayed -- e.g. Nathaniel Branden's notorious affair with Rand -- it is only natural that the events be painted in a manner that reflects well on them. This would not be dishonesty on their part -- merely human nature. A chronology of the relationship between Rand and the Brandens is offered by the Objectivist Reference Center.
Unfortunately, Valliant's book is subtitled "The Case Against the Brandens" and this fact alone foreshadows a very messy, lines-being-drawn, are-you-for-me-or-against-me conflict within Objectivism. Indeed, the Sense of Life Objectivists SOLO has posted a pre-emptive defense, "The Passion of Barbara Branden" written by BB against whom there is sure to be an onslaught of criticism.
FYI, Nathaniel Branden's book-length portrayal first appeared under the title "Judgement Day: My Years with Ayn Rand" and was reissued in a substantially revised form as simply "My Years with Ayn Rand". An excerpt from Judgement Day is available here. Barbara Branden's book is entitled "The Passion of Ayn Rand".