An Important Question

 Posted by on 7 April 2006 at 2:27 pm  Uncategorized
Apr 072006

I’m presently in the middle of reading Robert Mayhew’s excellent anthology Essays on Ayn Rand’s Anthem. I’ve never been much of a fan of Anthem, but the essays in the anthology are giving me an enormous new understanding of and appreciation for the work. Although I read Anthem in February, I eagerly anticipate reading it again as soon as I finish the anthology.

My friend Lin Zinser had the same experience with the also excellent anthology Essays on Ayn Rand’s We the Living. Although I’ve always loved We the Living, I also gained a much greater understanding of it by reading the anthology.

Unfortunately, I’ve heard that neither of these two anthologies are selling terribly well: they’ve only sold a few hundred copies. That’s quite distressing to me. After all, they are excellent works. The essays are well-written, interesting, and illuminating — not just of Ayn Rand’s literary methods, but also of her philosophy. They are stellar examples of good scholarship on Objectivism. So Objectivists and fellow travelers who don’t buy and read these books are missing a fantastic opportunity to understand and appreciate Ayn Rand’s fiction and philosophy so much more deeply and thoroughly than ever before. Moreover, the better these anthologies sell, the more receptive publishers will be to future works on Objectivism by Objectivist scholars. (That’s of great interest to me, obviously!)

From what I hear from other quarters, this kind of lack of interest isn’t unique to these anthologies. Although The Objective Standard is doing very well in its subscriptions, the journal has fewer than expected Objectivist subscribers. (That does mean more than expected non-Objectivist subscribers — and that’s great news!) Like Robert Mayhew’s anthologies, The Objective Standard is a fantastically interesting read. (I’m in the middle of reading the first issue now too.) So I’m puzzled as to why subscriptions haven’t been snatched up by Objectivists and fellow travelers in droves. (Unlike lecture courses, these works are not expensive.)

So here’s what I’d like to know: If you haven’t bought these anthologies, why not? Have you not heard of them? Are you just uninterested in reading essays on Ayn Rand’s fiction? Have you just not gotten around to buying them? Are you unsure of their value? Are you living in a hut without two pennies to rub together?

Despite that last, I am asking a serious question here: I really do wish to know why so few of the many thousands of people with a serious interest in Ayn Rand’s fiction and philosophy have bought Dr. Mayhew’s excellent anthologies or subscribed to The Objective Standard. So I’d very much appreciate if those of you who haven’t purchased the volume would indicate your reasons for not doing so in the comments or via private e-mail. Also, since I’m sure that NoodleFood readers are a more studious bunch than most, I’d like to ask those of you with a local club to inquire with your members as to whether they’ve bought the anthologies — and if not, why not. Then tell me what you find out, if you please. Also, if you’ve read and enjoyed the volumes, please encourage those people to buy and read them!

This question is of great personal interest to me. In a few years, I’ll be free from the burdens of graduate school to write what I please. I’d very much like to write on Objectivism for those already familiar with Ayn Rand’s fiction and philosophy — at least part of the time. However, if that’s like shouting into a black hole, then I may as well concentrate my efforts upon more interested and appreciative audiences.

(In case anyone is wondering, I have not revealed any confidental information in this post.)

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