Graduation Year

Spring 2011

Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

History

Reader 1

Larissa Rudova

Reader 2

Gary Hamburg

Rights Information

© 2011 Peter Jebsen

Terms of Use & License Information

Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Abstract

Since the late 1950s, Russian-American novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand has been “the ultimate gateway drug to life on the right.” Her philosophy – “Objectivism” – combined militant atheism, libertarian natural rights, and a philosophical commitment to what she called “the virtue of selfishness,” and earned her the admiration of such luminaries as Alan Greenspan: a remarkable achievement for an immigrant woman who learned to speak English in her late 20s. What is less-often observed is that Rand’s work, especially her mature novels The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957), bear a close stylistic resemblance to the Soviet Socialist Realist novel. This thesis identifies these similarities and attempts to answer the question of why a heavily Soviet-inflected writer was able to reach such cultural and political prominence in, of all places, America.

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