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Found 1 result

  1. Midas Mulligan and Andrew Mellon Did Ayn Rand base her character Midas Mulligan on Andrew Mellon? I recently came up with this question reading The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression by Amity Shlaes and, from Shlaes's description, it sure seemed plausible. Ayn Rand lived through the Great Depression and Mellon's name was everywhere in the culture up to and after that time. We know Rand often based her fictional characters on elements of real-life people. This was part of her literary technique. A famous example from her youth is killer William Edward Hickman. She observed Hickman in his murder trial and used elements of him (and the public's reaction to him) for her hero Danny Renahan in her unfinished work "The Little Street." You can read her notes of this process in The Journals of Ayn Rand. Her play Night of January 16th used the scandal of Ivar Kreuger for her main character Bjorn Faulkner (who never appears on stage). In The Fountainhead, Ellsworth Toohey was based on elements of Harold Laski (and others). In Atlas Shrugged, Robert Stadler's counterpart was J. Robert Oppenheimer and Nat Taggart was practically a rewrite of James Jerome Hill. This sleuthing could get fun one day. But although Rand used real people as templates, she never wrote in the spirit of Roman à clef. The purpose of her fiction works was always artistic, not disguised celebrity gossip. So let's look and see if Mellon and Mulligan fit. First, Amity Shlaes's the passage on Andrew Mellon from The Forgotten Man (Chapter 1 - "The Beneficent Hand"): Ayn Rand described Midas Mulligan early in Atlas Shrugged. Do I need to say it? I don't want to, but I guess I better. And this is only for the nitpickers in O-Land. Obviously Rand did not use Shlaes's work for her inspiration. The reason? The Forgotten Man was published in 2007 and Ms. Rand was a bit deceased at that time. However, there is no doubt Shlaes description represents the reality of Andrew Mellon and the general public perception of him when he was alive. Ayn Rand would have been well aware of that public perception. What's more, it makes a perfect template for Midas Mulligan. All Rand really needed to do was select the parts that interested her, pour her themes on top and let her imagination do the rest. Michael