First Things has a piece on Ayn Rand’s marginalia in her copy of The Abolition of Man.

Ayn Rand was no fan of C.S. Lewis. She called the famous apologist an “abysmal bastard,” a “monstrosity,” a “cheap, awful, miserable, touchy, social-meta­physical mediocrity,” a “pickpocket of concepts,” and a “God-damn, beaten mystic.” (I suspect Lewis would have particularly relished the last of these.)

These insults and more can be found in her marginal notes on a copy of Lewis’ Abolition of Man, as printed in Ayn Rand’s Marginalia: Her critical comments on the writings of over 20 authors, edited by Robert Mayhew. Excerpts appear below, with Lewis’ writing (complete with Rand’s highlighting and underlining) on the left and Rand’s notes on the right.

Go here to see how an objective and rational person deals with an opponent.

h/t Bart Gingerich

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Mark T. Mitchell
Mark T. Mitchell teaches political theory at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, VA. He is the author Michael Polanyi: The Art of Knowing and The Politics of Gratitude: Scale, Place, and Community in a Global Age (Potomac Books, 2012). He is co-editor of another book titled, The Humane Vision of Wendell Berry. Currently he is writing a book on private property. In 2008-9, while on sabbatical at Princeton University, he and Jeremy Beer hatched a plan to start a website dedicated to political decentralism, economic localism, and cultural regionalism. A group of like-minded people quickly formed around these ideas, and in March 2009, FPR was launched. Although he was raised in Montana and still occasionally longs for the west, he lives in Virginia with his wife, three sons and one daughter where they are in the process of turning a few acres into a small farm. See books written by Mark Mitchell.


  1. Ayn Rand? So some of us went through that when we were 17, but really, Ayn Rand? Sheesh, give me a break. The most positive thing I’ve heard about her and I’m surprised by it, is that she actually read Lewis. Any adult who takes her seriously is a genuine dip.

    “Abysmal bastard” yeah that shows that Rand artistic command of English prose.

  2. @Thomas McCullough
    Perhaps you ought to check your own command of English before attempting irony, or is the confusion in your last sentence invisible to theists?

  3. At one point I had the pleasure of speaking with a very learned man – now a professor at an Ivy League school – who had researched Rand and her popularity as a side project. Apparently these kinds of vitriolic ejaculations were her normal way of interacting with intellectual texts and not just when she read theists like Lewis (caveat: I haven’t read this newly published marginalia which I suppose would confirm my conversationalist’s claim).

    Her story is one of the most fascinating of the twentieth century. Her life and influence illustrates – perhaps ironically given her ideas – that straightforward, clear-headed, “scientific” accounts of human nature certainly miss something of the complex reality. It seems surreal that a fifth-rate novelist who glorified rape and made her husband wear bells on his shoes could be the most influential intellectual on a long-time chairman of the federal reserve. But I suppose it is not more improbable than Sarah Palin or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s political career in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Notice Francis Scott Key’s discrimination; he did not suggest America was the land of the discerning or the home of the wise.

  4. @ T. Koefoed and the host of this blog…

    This vile post and scurrilous accusation requires an apology.

    There is no depiction of rape, no acceptance of rape, no approval of rape and above all no glorification of rape in any fiction or non-fiction of Ayn Rand.

  5. @John Donahue — You have never read The Fountainhead?
    I believe that Howard Roark commits rape therein. Of course, if a woman “wants” it, it isn’t “rape”, in your view?

  6. First, aside from that one incident in “The Fountainhead,” there is nothing close to rape in any other sequence in Ayn Rand, anywhere. In her non-fiction, Ayn Rand is a radical and intransigeant champion of a woman’s ownership of her body. I make this statement to keep up the pressure on T. Koefoed and the host of this blog to take action to remedy the defamation that Ayn Rand glorified rape. I await action on that.

    On the issue of Dominique/Roark: it is not rape. She set up the sequence. She struck Roark in public. She invited him in. He responded to her desire to be taken. She resisted, then she surrendered. She never said “no” nor claimed rape. It was not rape. The glorious, sensitive, loving, tender and erotic relationship between Roark and Dominique afterwards spun out by Ayn Rand has few rivals in literature.

    Now where is that apology?

  7. Well I suppose one can always quibble in matters of literature. Despite the otherwise riveting “Penthouse Legend/Night of January 16th” one will find a protagonist who threatens a virgin secretary to take off her clothes for money and when she refuses says he will “take” her anyway and consummates the act. I call that rape. I’ll spare FPR the details of Mr. Faulkner’s “cracking a whip over [this] animal he wanted to break” so that she was “afraid”. Vile? Most certainly. Scurrilous? I think not. Besides, I’m not convinced apologies were part of Rand’s ethos anyway.

  8. The rape-claimers overlook two things: 1. Ayn Rand, of course, vehemently opposed rape: her central social-political principle was “no man has the right to initiate physical force against others,” 2. Dominique was in love with Roark, desperately wanted him to do what he did, ended up marrying him! (Same for Karen Andre in “Penthouse Legend,” and there was no “for money” involved.)

    Does anyone remember the “rape” scene at the end of Gone With the Wind (also written by a woman)?

  9. At first I was annoyed at Mr. Donahue’s misreading my use of “Rand” as an adjective, admittedly ambiguous. His further observations, however, made me realize we are dealing with a serious Disciple and I capitalize it advisedly.

    ” The glorious, sensitive, loving, tender and erotic relationship between Roark and Dominique afterwards spun out by Ayn Rand has few rivals in literature.” Give me a break!

  10. But I suppose it is not more improbable than Sarah Palin or Arnold Schwarzenegger’s political career in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    Koefoed, what is your conception of a ‘probable’ political career? A local radio broadcaster is elected to the town council, then elected mayor, then holds an appointive position as a state bureau chief, then is elected state governor. What sort of anomaly is incorporated into this sequence of events? (Or is it your view that one must have a law degree before running for public office?)

  11. “Dominique was in love with Roark, desperately wanted him to do what he did, ended up marrying him!” Psh! What fools we are! When a woman denies that she wants to have sex with a man, it is obviously legitimate for a man to force himself on her so long as he knows she secretly wants it!

    Creepy as hell, folks. Creepy as all hell.

    Back on topic: the linked article was fantastic.

  12. I don’t know about T. Koefoed other than his name is similar to the latin for Skunk Cabbage, Symplocarpus foetidus but as to Peters, he is a Bounder, a profound Cad and a scurrilously rotted fiend, a dissolute haunter of serial dens of sinful pursuits, a squawking Drake, a preening gadfly, a prideful chef and epicurean wastrel, an ilk, a leering professor, an unseemly possessor of untoward revery, a smoking bomb, a damnable sleep-away , a smack-head mainliner of shame and degradation, an occasional wearer of black socks and sneakers, a leaver of toast crumbs on the butter plate and last but not the very least, a walking tableau of near everything wrong with Bacon Eaters excepting a love of Whiskey.

    I’d say “Shame on you Mr. Peters” but it would make his day.

  13. Jason Peters is a gentleman and a scholar, not to be confused with Robert Peters.

    I think what was lacking in Palin’s career was not a law degree, but evidence of perceptive insight, sagacity, and sound judgment. As for Schwarzenneggar, he was elected in part by voters who said “I’m voting for the Terminator.” Having, or not having, a history of prior election to local office does not seem to be a key determinant. Indeed Mr. Key did not say America was land of the wise or home of the discerning. But we do get it right sometimes too.

    In my seldom humble opinion, The Screwtape Letters is worth more than all the books Ayn Rand ever wrote, and her marginalia besides. Indeed, The Chronicles of Narnia outshine Ayn Rand.

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