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02/19/2005 Archived Entry: ""

As I mentioned in an earlier blog, I am looking forward to reading James Valliant's just-released book "The Passion of Ayn Rand's Critics: The Case Against the Brandens" which, for the first time, offers Rand's perspective (via never before published passages from her journals) on the behind-the-scenes behavior and scandals that have been hitherto known only through Rand's two biographers - Nathaniel and Barbara Branden.

My opinion of Rand as a human being declined upon reading the Brandens' portraits of her psychology and behavior. I concluded that her books contained the best of who she was and, so, I merely shrugged in weary acquiescence whenever someone assaulted Objectivism based on Rand's "lamentable" personality. Then I changed the subject back to what I felt was important about Rand: her ideas. In essence, I based my judgment of her personality upon hearing only one side of what can be likened to a messy divorce. I was wrong to do so. And I harbor hopes that Valliant's book will restore to me a more favorable opinion of the human being that was Ayn Rand. I am not looking for a role model or a heroine; but I would be relieved if Rand were revealed as a more sympathic person than either of the Brandens painted. If not, well, nothing has been lost by hoping.

I should receive a review copy shortly and I intend to consume the book in one sitting. Thus far, no reviews seem to be posted on the Internet tho' The Autonomist has promised one soon. But pre-review buzz is available aplenty. Discussion on The Autonomist forum tends to be pro-Valliant. Discussion on the SOLO forum tends to be pro-Brandens. I have no immediately reaction to the back-and-forth other than to find some fault with one attitude that underlies some of the SOLO posts: namely, that Valliant's book is unfortunate because it will tend to discredit the Brandens' accounts and, so, discredit them to some degree. Odd criticism. That possible consequence is unfortunate only if Valliant's book provides misinformation rather than the truth. Or, rather, Rand's own words on what she believed was the truth of various situations.

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