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Jenny Turner on Paul Ryan’s lodestar, Ayn Rand (LRB, 1 December 2005):

…But really, storytelling was Rand’s talent, and it is in her novels that her vision takes its truest shape. In Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, power, greed, life’s grandeur flow hot and red in thrilling descriptions of urban and industrial landscapes, all ‘girders, cranes and trusses’ and ‘glowing cylinders’ and ‘fountains of sparks’ and ‘black coils of steam’. She’s good at sublimes, in other words, physical and elemental, the awe and terror as great as in any Romantic view of rocks and hills. But Rand is not interested in natural beauty, or even in the industrialised and modern sort of sublimity Marshall Berman found in Marx. It’s overpowering that really excites her, depredation and destruction and nature being despoiled.

Comments on “Overpowering”

  1. Bob Beck says:

    There’s a science-fiction story, probably from around 1970, about environmental degradation. (My memory of all this is probably faulty. I’d thought it was one of “100 Great Science Fiction Short Short Stories,” edited by Isaac Asimov; but that’s readable on-line, and I can’t find the story therein. However…).

    A secondary character, kind of a one-person Greek chorus, enthuses on TV about the “roiling pinks and golds of clouds at sunset” — colours attributable to air pollution — being “symbols of man’s triumph.”

    She rejoices in the name of Ona Ransome. I didn’t get the reference when I read the story, but the penny eventually dropped.

  2. eknm says:

    Capitalism’s Barbara Cartland.

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