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In 1958, a year after the publication of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand gathered a group of student readers and writers in her living room for a series of 12 four-hour lectures about fiction. The Art of Fiction evolved from that course. Though Rand's Romantic Manifesto was also partly based on the same lecture series, this book omits (for the most part) Rand's discussions of other art forms. Its gist is a case for fiction that is "Romantic" (deriving from a belief in free will) rather than "Naturalistic" (allowing for fate).
It is hard to be ambivalent about Ayn Rand. Rand spoke in absolutes, and either you buy it or you don't. There is plenty of fiber and nutritious material in this book, but the Rand agnostic may find it hard to digest. Rand's ego is enormous and her dismissiveness petty most every step of the way. "In regard to precision of language," says Rand, who uses her work throughout the book to exemplify her points, "I think I myself am the best writer today." But woe to any other author, excluding Victor Hugo, Mickey Spillane, and, with reservations, Dostoyevsky. "To see how not to write," advises Rand, "read [Thomas Wolfe's] descriptive passages." Sinclair Lewis, she says, is a "perceptive but superficial observer." James Joyce? "He is worse than Gertrude Stein. ...He uses words from different languages, makes up some words of his own, and calls that literature."
Still, Rand does have some useful things to say to the fiction writer. Perhaps most important is her emphatic belief in the concrete. "In order to be completely free with words," she intones, "you must know countless concretes under your abstractions." It is only the concrete, she adds, that will lead the reader to your abstractions, your themes. Along related lines, Rand believes firmly that "If a writer feels that he was unable fully to express what he wanted to express, it means that he did not know clearly what he wanted to express"--no more blaming it on writer's block for you! And remember: "A good style is one that conveys the most with the greatest economy of words." This means that "when you draw a character, everything that you say about him acquires significance by the mere fact of being included in your story." The bottom line is that "Art is selectivity." --Jane Steinberg --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Ayn Rand's first novel, We the Living, was published in 1936. With the publication of The Fountainhead in 1943, she achieved spectacular and enduring success. Through her novels and nonfiction writing, which express her unique philosophy, Objectivism, Rand maintains a lasting influence on popular and scholarly thought. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
I like some things about this book, and in some ways it is very helpful.
However, there is a pervasive arrogance that is not only distasteful but calls the integrity of... Read more
A book that I imagine people who are attached to subjectivism will have major problems with but even I, a religious Jew, was able to make good use of this book. Read morePublished on Aug. 29 2002 by Gordon A. Davidescu
A surprising exclamation of "Thank You!" was my instant gut reaction, undeniably ordered by my subconscious, right after reading her last word of this remarkable book. Read morePublished on April 28 2002 by Amazon Customer
Being an aspiring writer , "The Art of Fiction" is precisely the book I always dreamt of reading.
Rand's analysis - rational , logical , lucid and concise and yet ,... Read more
You have to ignore the megalomania ("In regard to precision of language," says Rand, "I think I myself am the best writer today. Read morePublished on Dec 28 2001 by Joanna Daneman
The Art of Ficton explores the idea that fiction can be actively created and not passively channeled. Read morePublished on Oct. 16 2001 by C. K. Rock
No one loves Ayn Rand more than Ayn Rand herself, and this is one of the most blatantly self-serving books ever written. Read morePublished on Oct. 10 2001 by Bob. Broten
This is not your typical "how to" approach to writing fiction. At least, it is not what one would typically expect. There's more depth here to just writing. Read morePublished on Aug. 27 2001 by Samuel Delgado