Skip to content

The Ideas of Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”: A Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibit

IRVINE, Calif.–Ayn Rand’s novel “Atlas Shrugged” is the subject of a new exhibit to open on October 8, 2007, at the Frances Howard Goldwyn Hollywood Regional Library. Commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the novel’s publication, the exhibit is jointly sponsored by the Los Angeles Public Library and the Ayn Rand Institute, and is curated by Jeff Britting, archivist of the Ayn Rand Archives, a special collection of the Ayn Rand Institute. The exhibit will include a reception open to the public on the date of the novel’s fiftieth anniversary, October 10, 7 pm, as well as four public talks devoted to the ideas of “Atlas Shrugged” and their contemporary importance.

The exhibit–a sequel to the library’s 2006-07 exhibit on Ayn Rand’s time in Hollywood–titled “The Ideas of Ayn Rand’s ‘Atlas Shrugged,'” once again displays items from the Ayn Rand Archives, including rare and never-before-displayed reproductions of manuscript pages and notes from early drafts of the novel. Also on display will be original promotional materials produced by Random House, including a dollar-sign cigarette; an excerpt from Rand’s manuscript for a television miniseries written shortly before her death; and the cover artwork of historic and foreign editions. 

Portions of the exhibit text have been extracted from Mr. Britting’s illustrated biography, “Ayn Rand” (The Overlook Press, 2005).

In addition to the exhibit, the library will present, free of charge, four Saturday afternoon discussion sessions about the ideas of “Atlas Shrugged” and their relevance to today’s world. Hosted by Mr. Britting, this series will feature presentations by speakers from the Ayn Rand Institute:

* Oct. 20, 2007, at 3 pm: talk by Mr. Alex Epstein on Capitalism
* Nov. 3, 2007, at 3 pm: talk by Dr. Onkar Ghate on Morality
* Nov. 17, 2007, at 3 pm: talk by Mr. Elan Journo on Foreign Policy
* Dec. 8, 2007, at 3 pm: talk by Dr. Keith Lockitch on Environmentalism

In “Atlas Shrugged”, Ayn Rand wrote a philosophic mystery story that she said integrated metaphysics, politics, economics and sex. It also presented for the first time her original philosophic system, later called “Objectivism,” a philosophy advocating reason, rational selfishness and laissez-faire capitalism. The theme of “Atlas Shrugged” is “the role of the mind in man’s existence,” and the novel dramatizes what would happen to the world if the creators withdrew their works. “Atlas Shrugged” became an immediate best-seller, but was so vilified by critics and academics at the time that Ayn Rand realized she would have to become a full-time philosopher in order to defend and spread the philosophy that made her fictional heroes possible.

“Atlas Shrugged” ranks as one of the most influential books of all time, ranking second only to the Bible in a 1991 survey by the Library of Congress. Selling more copies than ever before, it is studied every year by thousands of students and is regularly cited by businessmen, athletes, scholars and politicians as a book that changed their lives. Even though it was written a half-century ago, the ideas in “Atlas Shrugged” are still profoundly relevant to the moral, cultural and political issues we face today. As Ayn Rand herself explained: “My attitude toward my writing is best expressed by a statement of Victor Hugo: ‘If a writer wrote merely for his time, I would have to break my pen and throw it away.'”

The exhibit at the Frances Howard Goldwyn Hollywood Regional Library runs through December 11.

Pin It on Pinterest