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Reconcilement. Since I have a similar idea to Carol's as to what a "novel" is, I agree that Rand wasn't a great novelist but counter that she was a great mythicist. We the Living is closest to being a "novel"; The Fountainhead is betwixt and between (with features of its own that make it a special statement for many who love it - I didn't react to it that way); Atlas Shrugged is a deliberate presentation of a mythos, and I think it's a stupendous achievement in that regard.

Yes, this.

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Makes for light poolside reading about growing up Italian.

I would believe that "growing up Italian" would be framed by where your ancestors originated from in Italy and where you grew up here in New York.

A...

Do your parents speak Italian in the home? I imagine, but know not, that that'd be "growing up Italian" (in America).

--Brant

A possible criteria, however, not necessarily accurate. For example, even though I grew up in a household that was fluent in "Italian" [here again, it depends on what dialect and whether it was the dominant communications language in the household], that is not definitive.

A...

DOMINANTE fattorino! Dominante!

--Brant

sheesh

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A possible criteria, however, not necessarily accurate. For example, even though I grew up in a household that was fluent in "Italian" [here again, it depends on what dialect and whether it was the dominant communications language in the household], that is not definitive.

A...

DOMINANTE fattorino! Dominante!

--Brant

sheesh

Wow, a dominant errand boy!!??

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A possible criteria, however, not necessarily accurate. For example, even though I grew up in a household that was fluent in "Italian" [here again, it depends on what dialect and whether it was the dominant communications language in the household], that is not definitive.

A...

DOMINANTE fattorino! Dominante!

--Brant

sheesh

Wow, a dominant errand boy!!??

That's a topper.

--Brant

topping the topper

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About "plot, plot, plot" - there isn't really altogether that much plot in Rand's novels. The metaphoric symbolism and development, I think, is what provides the sweep and the power.

Ellen,

That's a surprising statement. What are your models and standards for plot?

According to the ones I have studied, Rand comes out at the high-end. Action-wise, with all the suspense, reversals and reveals, I can't see how anyone can say Rand's plotting is inferior. But on the inner game I can see a criticism because she uses steadfast characters a lot (ones without an inner moral arc). But even then, she makes sure people around those characters change (i.e., have arcs).

One question. Is the plot of The Fountainhead more deficient than the plot of To Kill a Mockingbird? (I thought of both because of big climactic courtroom scenes).

I, myself, don't see it. I know you are seeing something, so I would be interested in knowing what you see.

I agree with you on the metaphors with two caveats.

Sometimes Rand practically explains a metaphor instead of letting it work it's subconscious magic. Here's an example:

"Mr. Rearden," said Francisco, his voice solemnly calm, "if you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders—what would you tell him to do?"

"I . . . don't know. What . . . could he do? What would you tell him?"

"To shrug."

That's not a full-fledged explanation, but it's the closest thing I can think of to one. It's being slapped upside the head with an isomorphic metaphor and the author saying, "Pay attention, here is a salient one-to-one correspondence symbol and it means something VERY IMPORTANT to the story. And just in case you don't know what it means, I will give you some big-ass hints."

:smile:

Dayaamm! It's almost like explaining a joke.

I believe Rand gets away with this precisely because of her plot. She is always interrupting the solution to a problem or the answer to understanding something with a new emergency. And she always gives these moments big build-ups so you are right at the cusp of the solution or answer. Then boom! Shit hits the fan.

In fact, she did that in this scene, too, when the blast furnace blew. And that, ironically , is where I believe her mastery of metaphor kicks in. What better way to show what happens when "Atlas shrugs" than by showing a container holding hot molten steel "shrugging"?

But I have another quibble with Rand about metaphor. It's on her metaphorical details in descriptions. This is where she gets charged by critics with writing purple prose. Here is a passage right after the one I quoted above, but before the blast furnace explosion.

The clatter of the metal came in a flow of irregular sounds without discernible rhythm, not like the action of a mechanism, but as if some conscious impulse were behind every sudden, tearing rise that went up and crashed, scattering into the faint moan of gears. The glass of the windows tinkled once in a while.

"The faint moan of gears"?

Dayaamm!

:smile:

Think about it. A sudden tearing rise that goes up and crashes and ends up in a faint moan?

Hmmmm...

Where have I seen that in real life?

:smile:

And just to be an asshole, let me ask what kind of rise doesn't go up? :smile:

That wasn't one of the worst examples, either, but I'm out of time to dig into this deeply. At any rate, these quibbles are within a wider context of what I hold as her metaphorical mastery.

These quibbles are glaring, though. Ayn Rand had no middle. With her it was either genius or schlock. In my opinion, very little schlock by comparison, but still schlock. If one wants to fully appreciate her literary skills, I think it is a mistake to pretend this doesn't exist or somehow rationalize it.

Michael

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I read one of Puzo's early unsuccessful novels, quite autobiographical I think, about growing up Italian in Murca .. It was quite good and I wish I could remember the name!

At university I read Le Rouge et le Noir in the original, also Mme Bovary, Antigone, en attendant Godot,and a bunch of surrealists who made no sense in any language. I consider Flaubert and Beckett to be great writers.. I remember Stendhal impressed me profoundly but I remember too little of the book itself to comment now. maybe I should read it in translation as I did later with the other two.

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I don't think much of the courtroom scene in "The Fountainhead" as much of a climax nor Galt's speech in "Atlas Shrugged." In regard to the former there is the dynamiting as a backup of sorts, for the latter, nothing else. The only way you can change the dynamiting that could enhance such as a climax--which should not be done, of course--is to have Roark stop designing buildings for Keating realizing the mistake he had made previously in doing that and having Keating do it all on his own. Then, when all the baddies gather inside to celebrate the project's completion, a structural flaw makes it all fall down on top of them. Hahaha.

--Brat

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I read one of Puzo's early unsuccessful novels, quite autobiographical I think, about growing up Italian in Murca .. It was quite good and I wish I could remember the name!

Maybe this one?

6. The Fortunate Pilgrim
The-Fortunate-Pilgrim.jpg

The Fortunate Pilgrim

Mario Puzo’s second novel, The Fortunate Pilgrim, was written in 1965. It is set in Hell’s Kitchen and is about a family of Italian Americans living there. The Fortunate Pilgrim is heavily inspired by Mario Puzo’s personal life. The novel received immense praise and gave Mario Puzo a name in literary books. Despite the immense praise, the novel failed to give Mario Puzo a substantial earning.

http://toptenplus.com/top-10-best-mario-puzo-books/

That seems like the only one that fits on this list.

A...

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I don't think much of the courtroom scene in "The Fountainhead" as much of a climax nor Galt's speech in "Atlas Shrugged." In regard to the former there is the dynamiting as a backup of sorts, for the latter, nothing else. The only way you can change the dynamiting that could enhance such as a climax--which should not be done, of course--is to have Roark stop designing buildings for Keating realizing the mistake he had made previously in doing that and having Keating do it all on his own. Then, when all the baddies gather inside to celebrate the project's completion, a structural flaw makes it all fall down on top of them. Hahaha.

--Brat

I loved the dynamiting at 16 and still do decades later. With the help of a great high school teacher, Mrs. Johnston, I realized that Roark was blasting away the doctrines of collectivism, altruism, and all those "maudlin slogans, mawkish pleas, and ponderous volumes of verbal rat-traps" that build Cortlandt.

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.

Makes for light poolside reading about growing up Italian.

I would believe that "growing up Italian" would be framed by where your ancestors originated from in Italy and where you grew up here in New York.

A...

Do your parents speak Italian in the home? I imagine, but know not, that that'd be "growing up Italian" (in America).

--Brant

Yes, Italian was spoken in our home, or rather Siciliano. And yes, I meant growing up Italian American in New Jersey whence I originate. The office of The Ayn Rand Letter was only a 30 cent Path Train ride away. I would go spend my allowance there every week and buy all those back issues of TON, TOM, and TARL. I'd often finish reading everything before I returned to Jersey City.

The Anarchist Bastard evokes many of these memories. Its author, too, developed interest in AR, but the book does not cover that. At least not yet. Left it near the pool and I'm in the city now : (

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Michael,

I just now saw your post #80. I'm having trouble getting time for OL, a lot going on here which is keeping me away from the computer.

I think that possibly there was a miscommunication as to what I was talking about in saying:

About "plot, plot, plot" - there isn't really altogether that much plot in Rand's novels. The metaphoric symbolism and development, I think, is what provides the sweep and the power.

You replied:

Ellen,

That's a surprising statement. What are your models and standards for plot?

According to the ones I have studied, Rand comes out at the high-end. Action-wise, with all the suspense, reversals and reveals, I can't see how anyone can say Rand's plotting is inferior.

I wasn't meaning that Rand's plotting is inferior, but instead that it isn't so primary as Carol had indicated ("the primacy of plot, plot, plot").

It's part of Rand's self-description that she read and wrote for the story (see "The Goal of My Writing"), and she named as the chief requirement for a good Romantic novel "plot, plot, and more plot."

But I think that what she wrote for, much more than for simply the story, was the message. And that message-dominance becomes so top-heavy in Atlas Shrugged as to direct, and even overwhelm the flow of story.

Would someone who was writing "for the story" really include a 60-page philosophy speech, plus all the other speeches? Would the metaphors that structure the book be so stressed? Would the book be so obviously a morality lesson?

The needs of the point she's making do result in what I think are some plotting weaknesses, in order to get the story to work.

Two big ones pertain to her attempt at suspense over John Galt's identity. I thought it was a weird relationship Dagny and Francisco were having that he didn't tell her the names of his two college friends - and that the reason why the author has him not say the names was glaringly obvious, as in, duh, because if Dagny knew the names, she wouldn't be properly (for the story's sake) in the dark about a Francisco/John Galt connection.

Similarly, it didn't occur to me when I read the book that the author meant the identity of the worker to whom Eddie kept blabbing to be a mystery. I thought the plot device was awkward - albeit, again, needed for the story's sake.

Likewise, I didn't see that there was any big suspense about what Galt was up to. The flap copy of the Random House hardcover practically said. (I think that Rand wrote the flap copy herself.)

Thus the story didn't, for me, have nearly the suspense-novel quality it was claimed to have in the NBI writings about it.

Plus, I didn't think there was that much internal intricacy of sub-story lines. Brant mentioned Ninety-Three. That's a book which maybe a lot of Rand admirers have read which I'd cite as a contrast piece with its interweaving of sub-plots. Another contrast piece is Charles Dickens' Bleak House - a book of comparable length and of major scope, but it probably hasn't been read by as many Rand fans as the Hugo. Another example is Shogun by James Clavell. The structuring of Shogun echoes that of Atlas, but I think is more intricately plotted, and, unlike Atlas, believably plotted.

So, I hope that helps in clarifying what I meant,

Ellen

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Ellen I loved Shogun! I really enjoyed the made for TV mini series in the 70s as well!

I enjoyed the movie, but it doesn't have - couldn't have had - the exquisitely worked out complexity of the learning process in the book. The book is a huge rave of mine.

Did you happen to notice that Toranaga, the power behind the events Blackthorn experiences, doesn't directly appear until far into the book. Like John Galt.

The multiple resemblances in structuring to Atlas were deliberate, I was delighted to learn from an article Marsha Enright wrote about Clavell and his work.

Ellen

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Believable plot is believable characters. I thought the Shogun characters (mini-series) were quite believable. The basic contradiction--unresolvable--in Atlas Shrugged is the hero went on strike, something heroes don't do, much less go around spreading anti-hero poison. So Galt gets morphed into a "god." Rand really had something with the "impotence of evil," but all the striking heroes bowed down to it and got out of its way. An evil person, too, can do a lot of destruction before self-destruction even if the self destruction goes as far as complete destruction. I will say this, Atlas Shrugged makes me think a lot more about just almost anything than Shogun, which I remember as power relationships. The hero seems to be much like Dante goes to Japan--have a look. What I saw doesn't make me want to read. Not a word of it. As a gist man I got the gist and if I didn't get the right gist it's still gist. I bet I can get anything important I missed on You Tube in about 30 minutes if pointed sort of right.

--Brant

should have read it first

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Ellen I loved Shogun! I really enjoyed the made for TV mini series in the 70s as well!

I liked -Shogun-too. So much that I taught myself Japanese.

Ba'al Chatzaf

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I liked -Shogun-too. So much that I taught myself Japanese.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Nice.

Taking a different slant on the Old Testament Bob?

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One thing that struck me in the relationship between Toranaga and Blackthorne. What he was seeking in Blackthorne was true friendship. Something impossible to him with anyone native to Japan at that time in history.

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Ellen,

As a freshman in college, I read Atlas Shrugged in two days without sleeping during Christmas break. It was very suspenseful to me. I couldn't stand not knowing what happened next. I even missed the obvious John Galt and Eddie talks. I had no clue who the guy talking to Eddie was until the reveal. :smile:

So I think a lot depends on audience expectations. Not that I am trying to excuse the things that slowed her plot down like the long sermon which folks like to call a speech--but it's really a sermon, nor the other sermons throughout the book.

One thing is for sure. Like Brant, AS prompted a lot more mental activity in me than Shogun. Sticky memories, too. I read just about everything Clavell wrote that was published in paperback when I was in Brazil up to Nobel House, but I could not get into that one because of the enormous cast at the beginning. However, I barely remember the stories. I didn't have that problem with Rand.

But wait!

There's more!

:smile:

Here's a tidbit I stumbled across in the Wayback Machine on some unrelated research I was doing: James Clavell's Asian Adventures by Marsha Familaro Enright

I haven't read it yet, but I had to post it.

:smile:

And now to double the offer (just pay postage and handling).

There is one memory about Clavell that stuck with me for the long haul. I think it was in King Rat, but which book it was didn't stick. The image did. The Englishman protagonist was in a prison camp or something like that and he had to learn that the locals had special designations for the left and right hands--one was for eating and the other was for washing the ass.

:smile:

Michael

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One thing is for sure. Like Brant, AS prompted a lot more mental activity in me than Shogun. Sticky memories, too. [....] I barely remember [Clavell's] stories. I didn't have that problem with Rand.

Brant didn't read Shogun. I bet he'd have had more mental activity prompted by the book than by the mini-series. In any case, I had (and sometimes still have) quite a bit of mental activity promoted by the book Shogun, though not as much as by Atlas. Atlas is immense in scope and pretty much raises, or connects to, questions about everything in human life. Shogun is more localized, but for me it raised a similar kind of question to one of the question types Atlas raised for many people.

I started Shogun - and despite the intellectual/moral journey - ended Shogun feeling mostly repelled by the Japanese culture depicted. However, I was noticing, impressed by, and somewhat affected by the "character arc" of Blackthorne's development from his initial repulsion to his coming partly to think like the Japanese and to find the Japanese culture superior in a number of respects to the English culture in which he'd grown up.

I was also noticing that Blackthorne's development paralleled Dagny's, with different details. Over the years, I've sometimes thought about the resemblance.

Regarding your first reading of Atlas Shrugged, you say that you read it as a freshman in college, "in two days without sleeping during Christmas break" and that it was "very suspenseful" to you.

I first read Atlas at the end of my freshman year of college. I probably would have read it more or less non-stop if I hadn't invited three college friends home to Peoria for a horseback riding party which I didn't feel I could cancel at the last moment. The circumstance was one of the infrequent circumstances in my youth when there was something I'd rather have been doing than horseback riding. Given the scheduling conflict, I went riding by day and read by night for as long as I could after my friends had gone to sleep. The night after they left, I began Galt's Speech, and was jolted into astounded consternation by her statement that "man is a being of volitional consciousness." "Volitional consciousness"!!! What the hell...?

I think that even if I had been reading the book more or less non-stop, instead of with gaps, I would have noticed the plotting awkwardnesses and also the many characterological details which produced from early in my first reading a puzzlement about what sort of person could have written the book (a combination of brilliant and naive, I thought).

You say that you think "a lot depends on audience expectations." I wonder, were you reading with a feeling that your life was being changed? I've read or heard many self-reports from people who have described their first reading of Atlas as life-changing. I suspect that an intense eagerness, with resultant not noticing various details, might produce a state of high suspense in someone reading with the feeling that his/her world view was being altered.

~~

On the subject of the plot awkwardnesses pertaining to John Galt's identity, another occurs in the scene where Dagny goes to consult Robert Stadler about the motor. Stadler speaks of his disappointment in three star pupils, over whom he had a bit of rivalry with Hugh Akston. He names two of the former students, Francisco d'Anconia and Ragnar Danneskjöld. The third student, Stadler doesn't name. He says something to the effect that the third disappeared and became a nobody.

Is it plausible (I don't think it is) that Stadler, even though he's "ivory-tower" cloistered, wouldn't have heard the question "Who is John Galt?" which has become a cultural catch phrase, and wouldn't have wondered about a connection to his former student, and wouldn't have a "spooky" sort of feeling upon Dagny's showing him a motor which has been abandoned and which he thinks is the work of a physics genius, and wouldn't drop a hint of any of this to Dagny? Of course, if he had dropped a hint, then Dagny would have connected some dots which the story required her not to connect.

Ellen

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Stadler was based on Rand's atom bomb research and her interview with Robert Oppenheimer with "Project X" taking the place of the bomb. She found him "fascinating."

--Brant

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Ellen:

I think he said, "He's probably a third assistant clerk/bookkeeper." [only word with 3 double letters in a row I've heard].

A...

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More greetings from Manhattan

Morning (afernoon or evening) to all.

I've been away a spell, hunting down rare Ayn Rand works and cataloging them on my web site. Good to be back in NYC.

During my search, I came across two pieces of information which interest me and which I hadn't known of.

First, I learned that c 1960, Rand gave a talk at Queens College here in NYC entitled "The Twentieth century Revolt against Reason". While she used that phrase ("revolt against reason") to describe the 20C, there is no reprint of that talk anywhere in her published works. Does anyone know more about this speech?

Second, I learned of The Runge Torigian Newsletter, printed in 1960-1, an "Objectivist Calendar" of sorts, before there was The Objectivist Newsletter. Very interested in learning more about this undertaking. Anyone with information or copies, please contact me. I am interested in a purchase or perhaps a trade.

Thanks to all! Hope you enjoyed a fine holiday.

Michael

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