It was once wryly observed by author John Rogers that “(t)here are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
Now those emotionally stunted, socially crippled man-children have new reason to rejoice. No, not the mid-term elections. No, no, not the release of Grand Theft Auto V.
No, my friends, I’m afraid it’s much, much worse than that. It’s a new Ayn Rand novel.
For the first time in more than 50 years, publishers are rolling out a new novel by the godmother of libertarianism, the previously unpublished Ideal. The book tells the story of a movie actress who is accused of murder.
Rand wrote the novel in her late 20s, but never published it, although at one point, she did write a stage adaptation, which will be included in the new edition along with the short novel.
The “objectivist” author’s works — particularly the novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged — have been held up by pro-business, anti-government zealots as exemplars of political fiction. Her acolytes praise her as one of the greatest minds of the 20th century and have made her, essentially, the patron saint of people who don’t tip.
Literary critics, however, find that the often uneasy mix of political proselytizing and fiction writing produced particularly dismal results in Rand’s typewriter. Her characters have been slammed as one-dimensional and wooden, her plots as flowing like mud, and when her characters aren’t declaiming for seven straight pages about the evils of socialism, the dialogue they speak is about as natural as a bright pink aluminum Christmas tree.
Richard Ralston, publishing manager at the Ayn Rand Institute, stumbled across the unpublished manuscript in 2012 and said that he is very excited to be adding to Rand’s small published canon of works.
“I’ve heard wishful comments over many years from readers wondering if there were other novels in Ayn Rand’s papers,” Ralston told the Wall Street Journal.
Ideal will be released by New American Library in summer of 2015.