I try to be fair, but here is the kind of crap I detest in adulatory works.
In general, I greatly enjoyed the remembrances of the Sures, but things like the following kept jumping out at me. Below is a section from the first chapter called Finishing Atlas Shrugged
. Notice that Ms. Sures emphasized that she had to go downstairs to call Peikoff to come over so he could be there when Rand finished the book. Also, prompted by the questioner, she made a point of claiming that no photograph was taken of the moment when Rand finished writing Atlas
. (I wonder why the question was even asked, hmmmmm???...)
ARI: Were you there when Miss Rand finished writing Atlas Shrugged?
MARY ANN: Yes, that is one of my most vivid memories.
ARI: What happened?
MARY ANN: Atlas Shrugged was finished on the afternoon of Wednesday, March 20, 1957. That, incidentally, is the date she wrote on the last page of the manuscript. The only people there, besides Ayn, were Frank, Joan, Leonard, and me.
At the time, Ayn was working against a deadline, a date when she was scheduled to turn in the final typed manuscript of the novel to Random House. My job was to get the typing and proofreading finished by that deadline. I had agreed with Ayn not to let the work pile up; I was to keep up with her. On March 20, there were typewritten pages to be proofread. I had typed them earlier in the week, and I asked Joan to proofread with me. Ayn knew we were coming over.
We arrived at the apartment after lunch, about 1:00 p.m. We knew Ayn was writing the last chapter but we didn't know how close to the end she was. Frank answered the door, and said something like "I think this is going to be it, kids." Then, he went back to his easel in the bedroom.
As I said earlier, whenever I went over to do some work and she was writing, I would tap on the study door, enter, take my work, and leave. But, after hearing Frank, I decided that we should not disturb her. We sat in the living room, whispering. More than an hour passed. Finally, I thought that one of us should quietly enter the study and quickly take the manuscript pages we needed — I knew exactly where they were on the bottom shelf of the bookcase. But, which one of us?
ARI: Which one was it?
MARY ANN: Joan. How we decided that Joan should be the one is amusing. We concluded that since she was petite, she would be less noticeable! I told her to tap lightly and enter. She walked back to the study, and here is what I heard: a few taps on the study door, followed by Ayn's voice speaking in a stern manner: "If you come in here, I'll kill you." That's an exact quote.
Joan returned, and we retreated to the farthest corner of the living room and sat whispering and wondering. I decided to call
Leonard and tell him what was happening. I had to go down to the lobby to use the pay phone, because the only telephone in the apartment was in Ayn's study. Leonard lived a few blocks away, and he came right over. He joined us in the corner of the living room, and we three whispered and waited. I'm not sure how much time passed; it seemed like hours, but it wasn't. And then we heard the loveliest sound in the world — Ayn's chair scraping against the wooden floor. We heard her footsteps walking out of the study, we heard Frank say, "Congratulations, darling." Then we heard her walking into the living room. She entered, dressed in a skirt and short-sleeved blouse, her hair was somewhat disheveled, her face was a little shiny. She was
walking toward us, holding up a manuscript page with her thumb and index finger. We approached her and read the words "The End" at the bottom of the page. She looked young, she was smiling broadly, her eyes were bright. Frank followed her in, and he was beaming.
ARI: Was she angry about the interruption?
MARY ANN: She didn't even mention it. After hugs and congratulations, we apologized for disturbing her. She dismissed it with a wave of her hand. She said it was all right, that we had no way of knowing what page she was on. She was so happy in those moments, I don't think anything could have undercut her joy at having finished Atlas. She wanted to have the Collective(1) over that night to celebrate. Then we left. It was still daylight.
ARI: How did you celebrate?
MARY ANN: We had champagne. The "If you come in here, I'll kill you" story was told, to everyone's amusement. Ayn said that she didn't know who was tapping on the study door. We had coffee and pastries. I remember picking up some at the bakery on Third Avenue that the O'Connors used, Versailles Patisserie.
ARI: Were there any pictures taken, just after she finished writing the last page?
MARY ANN: Right after she finished? No. No one had a camera. If we'd had a camera, we would have snapped her as she walked into the living room holding up the last page!
ARI: Do you remember typing the last page?
MARY ANN: I typed only part of it. As I was typing the last chapter, Ayn said I could type everything but the last lines. She wanted to type those herself. When that time came, she sat down at the typewriter and said that even though she was a fast typist, she made a lot of mistakes. She added that she better not make any this time. So she typed, very slowly, from "He raised his hand…." to "The End." After she finished, she said, "Now it really does say 'The End'."
(1) "The Collective" was Ayn Rand's tongue-in-cheek name for a small group that met on Saturday nights to discuss her works and philosophy.
It almost seems like the following statement is being yelled out from between the lines: "Nathaniel and Barbara Branden were not there!"
For some reason that didn't stop Rand from dedicating Atlas Shrugged
to Nathaniel. Nor did it stop Barbara from taking the snapshot of Rand she used in The Passion of Ayn Rand
and later sold at an auction. I wrote a report on that auction in Dec. 2006 here on OL: Barbara Branden, Robert Hessen and the 1998 Rand Auction
. The following quotes are from that report.
Memories and Memorabilia
. . .
I gaze at the photograph I took of an elated Ayn as she stood with her hand on the just completed manuscript of Atlas. I remember that evening with an overwhelming immediacy; I feel again Ayn's excitement and mine and that of our friends who had gathered in her apartment. We believed that we were present at a turning point in man's intellectual history—and, much later, as Ayn's fame and influence came to circle the globe, I knew that we had indeed been witness to history…
. . .
5869 — Photograph of Ayn Rand. The handwriting states: "Completion of Atlas Shrugged." [Barbara Branden collection] From the catalogue:
Barbara snapped this photo of Ayn in March of 1957 just after she wrote on the last page of her manuscript, "'The road is clear,' said Galt. 'We are going back to the world.' / He raised his hand over the desolate earth he traced in space the sign of the dollar." Barbara Branden writes of Ayn in her biography, "Later she could remember nothing of that evening, except that she stood up from her desk, walked out of her study in a state of dazed numbness and exaltation, and handed Frank the last page of her manuscript to let him see the words: 'The End.'" This photo appeared in Branden's biography of Rand.
For the record, the caption for the photograph in Passion
reads as follows: "Ayn with manuscript of Atlas Shrugged
, only moments after completing it. 1957."
Granted, Ayn Rand lived at 36 East Thirty-Sixth Street and the Brandens had a small one room apartment on East Thirty-Fifth Street within walking distance at this time, so even if they were not there, they were almost certainly nearby. If Barbara snapped the photograph "only moments after completing" Atlas
, you don't need to be a rocket scientist to figure out that she was called over to celebrate right on the spot. And I find it inconceivable that anyone on earth, even the most died-in-the-wool orthodox Objectivist and Branden hater, would think that Rand would not want to share this moment with the man she dedicated the book to—the man she was in love with
. (All in addition to Frank, of course, who shared her love and the dedication, but he was already there.)
Granted, also, that neither of the Brandens mentioned that "Joan, Leonard, and me" were present at that moment (although Barbara mentioned that Rand showed the page to Frank), there is still a world of difference between leaving out Joan, Leonard and Mary and leaving out what Rand did with Barbara and Nathaniel. Within the context of both Brandens's books, this information could have been included, but it was not essential or important. They both discussed Joan, Leonard and Mary amply in several places. Within the context of Sures's account, it would not have been all that essential either if so much emphasis had not been stirred up by pointing a finger and saying: "Only us. Only us. Nobody else. And no photographs. No photographs. Us, us, us. And don't forget about Leonard!" (In other words, "Not them, them, them.")
Why leave out that kind of information and insinuate that the Brandens were not critically important to Rand in both her mind and heart at that moment, and that they were called over immediately from wherever they were? (I am not too sure about Nathaniel coming over immediately since no one mentioned him in these written accounts, but it was obviously the case with Barbara.) This crap comes off as terribly petty and it is nothing more than an insinuated distortion of history by omission.