For example, if they had been photo-copied pages, all in her own handwriting (Rand wrote-out practically everything longhand in her later years - even Atlas Shrugged), that would have lended more credibility to their accuracy. As far as I know, Jennifer Burns is the only independent scholar that has actually seen or reported on the contents of Rand's diaries, or parts of them, and I don't think she made a line-by-line comparison with PARC.
I agree that proof of the reliability of Jim Valliant and Casey Fahy's editing would require scans of the original handwritten journal pages.
There is no reason to take Jim Valliant's word for it. Where a great many related matters are concerned, his word has proven worthless.
All of this means that we won't know for sure any time soon.
My understanding is that Jennifer Burns saw some of the 1967-1968 journal pages. Dr. Burns' book wasn't intended to focus on Ayn Rand's affair with Nathaniel Branden, so she didn't make a close study of these journal entries. (Anne Heller presumably would have done so, had she been granted access—but of course that is one reason why she wasn't granted access.)
On top of that, a line-by-line comparison with PARC would be a rather thankless exercise for anyone allowed to see the originals in the Archives. If there were any discrepancies between the original entries and Valliant's renditions, the Estate wouldn't give permission to quote the originals.
For some time to come, anyone who wants to quote the diary entries will be stuck quoting Valliant's out-of-print book instead.
This came up on a Facebook thread. When I asked " I'm curious to know why the ARI archives are not open to everyone? Why is Ayn Rand's diary/journal not available for anyone to read? In the Montessori community, a similar thing happened. Rita Kramer wrote a biography that dealt with the controversies surrounding Montessori's training methods and private life. But in the case of the Montessori biography, the archives are open to anyone. This is not the case with Ayn Rand."
Valliant replied: " you are simply wrong: the Archives are open to everyone, and Rand's journals are "available for anyone to read," despite what you've been told by less-than-honest critics of ARI.
Just drop a line to Jeff Britting, the Archivist, and he will tell you all about it.
This is just another outrageous myth, for the Archive policies have long been available to everyone, as well, and are a matter of public record. So, go find out the easily-available facts before smearing the Archive. Chris Sciabarra was allowed to look at the material -- he was not allowed to publish the yet-unpublished material, but that is standard practice. Ditto Heller. They refused the opportunities afforded them, and some seem to be ~ demanding ~ the right to publish someone else's copyright property. And, as the materials have been published, by an authorized source, even that (very standard) restriction is lifted and the originals are there for all to both see and use.
In fact, compared to the archives of Einstein and Disney, the Rand estate and archive have been working at light speed. The material has been observed and described by independent scholars such as Prof. Jennifer Burns."
After further questioning Valliant then said:
"Yes, I was perfectly clear, but, to repeat: nearly anyone
may read the documents and look at the material, just as Prof. Jennifer Burns did -- and she is "not an advocate for Rand's ideas," either. "
- Emphasis added by me.
In reference to a quote I found by Peikoff I wrote:
"Since I have access to Mr. Valliant, I'm also curious as to what he thinks of the following quote/statement made by Dr. Peikoff in his 1983 course: Understanding Objectivism [CD 11 (Disc 2) Track 4: 11:04]:"
Question: “It’s easy for you to dismiss outright the Libertarian biographies of Ayn Rand because you knew her so closely. But there’s no other sources of such information maybe it would be useful if you could comment at length on at least one of these books so we can know which of these facts are true and which is misrepresentation. Ayn Rand is very dear to us as a great person not only as an author.”
Peikoff: “Well I would regard commenting on these books that are forthcoming on of which I know really as an issue of the sanction of evil and I would not do it. I know the authors in some cases. These books got willful falsehoods, motivated by malice mixed into the text. I simply would not ever make a comment on a book that I know is of that nature. I appreciate the interest in Ayn Rand’s biography and I certainly do intend to authorize a biography, where I believe that it will be done objectively and not by not for any reason of personal malice and in that case when that happens I will certainly open up all of her papers etc. to such a biographer. But I can tell you that I’m speaking now in December of 1983, I have not done that, and I will not not, now not nor ever have a comment on some of the forthcoming biographies. For the reason that I mentioned, I would consider it immoral on my part to comment. To even get to the point of distinguishing this page was true and this page was false. On exactly the grounds that I would not take some libel from the Nazi party against the Jews and say: well now on page 34 maybe he made a good point, but the first 12 pages are dishonest. In its inception and by its method it is corrupt and the same thing exactly in this case”
This was Valliant's reply:
"What Heller could have done, of course, is all that we are talking about, not what she did do. Sciabarra, too, refused what was offered him for some reason, unlike Burns. Also, with "nearly," I only meant to include the idea that one must fill out the appropriate forms, disclose one's purpose, sign the agreement regarding use, that kind of thing, that's all.
Peikoff's statement speaks for itself. I did not know Rand, and barely knew Mr. Branden, so I could not rely on personal knowledge in order to evaluate Ms. B.'s assertions (which began well before the book was published), as Leonard Peikoff could. So, far from immoral, the process I went through was a moral one. Following a detailed analysis, we come out agreeing about the dishonesty and lack of objectivity of those works, but he was clearly speaking for himself and his own context, right?"
- I saw no need to reply to this. But finally the best part! Thanks to Valliant, I checked out some things Jennifer Burns had to say and I posted the following:
"I've been doing a little homework. All of the following is from Jennifer Burns Blog:"
"As it turned out, the archives were open, and willing to have me, with stipulations. The primary stipulation was that I not use the archival material to write a full length biography, since the Ayn Rand Institute had commissioned an Objectivist literary scholar, Shoshana Milgram, to write an authorized biography. Because my focus was on Rand in relationship to a particular aspect of American history – the American right – my work was classified as a “special study.” I was also told I would not be shown certain material related to legal disputes and a few items of sensitive nature pertaining to persons still living. Other than that, I had free rein in the archive. (Along the way, I did in fact stumble across some material I wasn’t supposed to see – more on that later)." http://www.jenniferb...-gaining-access
"Perhaps no part of Rand’s legacy is more controversial today than the editing of her letters and diaries. When the Estate of Ayn Rand released two huge volumes of her letters and diaries in 1995 and 1997, Rand fans were thrilled. It didn’t take long, however, for suspicions to surface. Sifting through earlier published excerpts of Rand’s journals, NYU scholar Chris Sciabarra discovered that the journals had been edited. As I write in my forthcoming book, “After several years working in Rand’s personal papers I can confirm Sciabarra’s discovery: the published versions of Rand’s letters and diaries have been significantly edited in ways that drastically reduce their utility as historical sources.”"http://www.jenniferb...ers-and-diaries
"for the first time, the Estate of Ayn Rand had granted publishing permissions to an outside scholar who had authored a full length, critical study of Rand."
"Here I will offer a few predictions (always risky for the historian!):"
"1.) I believe the archive will continue to offer access to scholars interested in Rand’s work, and by scholars I do not mean those exclusively associated with the Ayn Rand Institute, but persons enrolled in or working for a degree granting institution or those who can demonstrate, through the formulation of a cogent research proposal, that they have a serious intellectual interest in Rand."
"Though I do not know the details of her arrangement with the archive or the Estate, it is my understanding that authors working on projects which may compete or conflict with hers [Knapp 's] will not be given access to the Ayn Rand Archive (this is the reason Anne Heller was denied permission to view Rand’s papers.)"
"3.) The Estate’s tenderness around the personal aspects of Rand’s life leads me to predict it will be many years before there is a full and impartial outside account of the Rand-Branden affair. This is rather a shame, since I know from my research the Archive has ample holdings that would more than satisfy the widespread curiosity and controversy about their relationship and its ending. Both because of my agreement with the archive and since my interest in Rand was primarily intellectual, this material informs only a small portion of my manuscript. I hope and expect that within my lifetime, another writer will give this aspect of Rand’s life the attention it deserves."
"4.) As for the published letters and diaries of Ayn Rand, that they have been edited is now widely known within the Objectivist community and is freely spoken of within the Ayn Rand Archives. I have heard some talk of a “scholar’s edition” of these materials, complete with footnotes and annotations. However, since recent work published by the Estate continues the practice of editing Rand’s words, I do not expect a revised edition anytime soon. However, to the extent the Archive remains open to outsiders, this problem can be surmounted. Rand’s legacy will thus exist on two levels: one for the general reading public, and one for the scholarly community." http://www.jenniferb...rognostications
"When I began researching, my primary understanding of Rand’s life came from the two Branden memoirs, Barbara Branden’s The Passion of Ayn Randand Nathaniel Branden’s Judgement Day: My Years with Ayn Rand. In my first stage of research, one of my primary goals was simply verifying if the essentials of the Brandens’ stories were correct. I was surprised to discover how accurate both books were. I did not discover any major errors or distortions in basic chronology or timing."
"Here, my guiding philosophy was that unless something I found contradicted the Brandens’ memoirs, it would not be a focus of my published work. Though my interest in Rand was primarily intellectual, rather than on the personal nature of all her relationships, part of my job as a historian is to set the record straight and I would have done so had I felt the Brandens were untruthful in their description of Rand or their relationship with her."
"That said, there were several aspects of Barbara Branden’s memoir which material in the archive definitely falsifies: the most famous of these is the typewriter story. Material from the archive indicates this legend is long established in family history and originated with Rand herself, though it is unclear if the youthful Rand was experimenting with tales of origin, or if the distortions of memory played a role (think of a game of telephone, stretched across generations)"
"In both cases, these errors are explainable and even predictable, given that Barbara Branden’s account was based upon oral history and Rand’s own memories about herself at a young age, which are naturally selective and subjective."
"Overall, what I saw in the archive confirmed for me that while the Branden’s memoirs are useful sources, they should not be taken as the final word on Rand’s life."
"|2010-02-21 14:12:53 Jennifer Burns - responding to comments: Neil: There is scattered material on NBI finances in the archive, and some legal files there may also shed light on this matter, but I believe most legal material is currently off-limits to researchers." http://www.jenniferb...on-the-brandens
“When I disagree with a rational man, I let reality be our final arbiter; if I am right, he will learn; if I am wrong, I will; one of us will win, but both will profit.” - Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged
Study Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand in Dallas, TX - www.thecultureofreasoncenter.com