There are repeated examples in both biographies of the ways in which Rand could be a sensitive, loyal, and affectionate friend.
But there’s no getting around it: taken as a whole, there is a dismaying discrepancy between the Ayn Rand of real life and Ayn Rand as she presented herself to the world.
To fake reality despoils that which makes human beings human.
Wishful thinking, unrealistic hopes, duplicity, refusal to take responsibility for the consequences of one’s actions—all these amount to faking reality and, to Rand, were despicable.
And yet for 27 years after her death in 1982, we had no single scholarly biography of Ayn Rand. How did she come to write such phenomenally influential novels? These questions were finally asked and answered splendidly, with somewhat different emphases, in two biographies published within weeks of each other in 2009: “Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right” by Jennifer Burns, an assistant professor of history at the University of Virginia, and “Ayn Rand and the World She Made” by Anne C.
Heller, a former executive editor at Condé Nast Publications.
After “Atlas Shrugged” was published in 1957, Rand and her chief disciple Nathaniel Branden converted the themes of her novels into a philosophy they labeled “Objectivism.” Objectivism takes as its metaphysical foundation the existence of reality that is unchanged by anything that an observer might think about it—“A is A,” as Aristotle put it, and as Rand often repeated in her own work.
Objectivism’s epistemology is based on the capacity of the human mind to perceive reality through reason, and the adamant assertion that reason is the only way to perceive reality.
Playwright George Axelrod, another liberal friend of Cerf’s, pronounced after a dinner at Rand’s apartment that “[s]he knows me better after five hours than my analyst does after five years.” Both biographers also describe a kinder, gentler Rand who was just as real as the fierce intellectual combatant.
To Martin Anderson, Ronald Reagan’s long-time advisor, she was a “pussycat,” who alone among a crowd at a café noticed Anderson couldn’t get his package of cream open (he had a broken arm) and helped him prepare his coffee.