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Flannery O’ Connor: Ayn Rand’s Fiction Was Trash

Why do I find author-on-author insults so entertaining?

And why do I find them especially entertaining when the insulted author is Ayn Rand?

So to start your Monday, how about a heaping bowl of love from Flannery O’ Conner to Ayn Rand?

I hope you don’t have friends who recommend Ayn Rand to you. The fiction of Ayn Rand is as low as you can get re fiction. I hope you picked it up off the floor of the subway and threw it in the nearest garbage pail. She makes Mickey Spillane look like Dostoevsky.

No she didn’t. Yes she did.

That one is almost as good as Virginia Woolf’s insult on James Joyce:

“[Ulysses is] the work of a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples.”

What is about high-brow authors insulting one another? Is it an issue of ego?

For more awesome insults, check out this post I wrote a few years ago.

And to see more about the haterade O’ Connor served up on Ayn Rand, check out Open Culture.

 (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

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14 Comments Post a comment
  1. bba #

    “What is about high-brow authors insulting one another?”

    I pray you’re not grouping Ayn Rand, America’s greatest children’s author, in the high-bow category.

    Like

    July 7, 2014
  2. Thems fightin words.

    I love the quotes from the other post, particularly Mark Twain’s about Jane Austin

    Like

    July 7, 2014
  3. deweydecimalsbutler #

    I loved O’Connor before this info. Now I love her even more.

    Liked by 1 person

    July 7, 2014
  4. I remember the fight Mary McCarthy had with Lillian Hellman. And talk about mud slinging. Norman Mailer and Gore Vidal not only didn’t like each other. On the Dick Cavett show, Norman asked Gore to go outside. But my all time favorite is what Truman Capote said about Jack Kerouac: “Oh, that’s not writing. That’s typing.”

    Like

    July 7, 2014
    • Oh, and let me applaud you for quoting Flannery O’Connor about Ayn Rand. She was so right-on. Too bad there are so many who have taken her philosophy and made it their own.

      Like

      July 7, 2014
  5. Anything that mocks Rand is fine by me 🙂
    But, I do think she’s kind of a part of the young adult experience at this stage. As a bookseller, I noticed so many people under the age of 21 read her books as part of their development. I know I ended up reading it at that age, too. You can’t tell what’s good if you have no experience with bad 🙂 -Tania

    Like

    July 7, 2014
  6. Because they’re hilarious and I love that it’s not just one snub it’s multiple. Did you see this a few weeks ago: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/05/19/author-insults_n_5326074.html. I mostly enjoyed the chart.

    Like

    July 7, 2014
  7. Bear #

    I agree with Flannery. Ayn Rand’s philosophy of selfishness (aka Objectivism) is also crap.

    Peace ~ Bear

    Like

    July 7, 2014
  8. Bear, “Philosophy of selfishness”. Never heard it put that way, but I like it: Short, sweet, and to-the-point! I read Rand’s “Anthem” in highschool. I threw it across the room I was so disgusted, and I NEVER abuse books.

    Like

    July 7, 2014
  9. I have a different thought on the subject of Rand. It seems to me that her critics are motivated by politics and inexperience in working with/in spite of the government. Because Rand portrayed the belief system of the wealthiest and economically successful Americans, many view her work as terrible and un-relatable. Isn’t the true beauty of fiction that it allows you to see another person’s opinion? Reading “Invisible Man” illuminated my eyes to this fact as my world is nearly opposite to the Invisible Man’s.

    My experience is that few have actually completed Atlas Shrugged (which is the book most criticism is focused on). This to me makes most criticism comical.

    Atlas Shrugged (and her other works too) is a cautionary tale. It is the story of how we could end up in Orwell’s “1984” if it weren’t for the Supreme Court.

    ***let the hating on me begin***

    Like

    July 7, 2014
    • I have to agree with you here. While I’m not a huge Ayn Rand fan by any means, I can’t hate her. I sometimes get confused by all the adamant hate towards her. Yes, she herself was a horrid human being, and parts of her philosophy are not agreeable, such as not wanting to give to others and the ignorance that she seemed to have as to how the lower class functions. (AKA it’s not always their fault but often the fault of a corrupt economy and businesses). However, I do think that she makes a good point about how we need to run businesses more honestly.

      Need I remind people that the ‘heroes’ of Atlas Shrugged were those who ran a business under the model that it should be run. Their employees were paid well, and they respect their employees, especially Reardon. On top of that, they produced great quality product that made life better for everyone while not screwing anyone over in the process. Yes, Rand was for making lots of money, but she was for making it honestly, (Also, her main character in The Fountainhead was never rich, but basically a struggling artist.) Sure, it bothers me that the mains characters never actually give any of the wealth to those in need, and yes even the characters seemed a little ignorant and naïve about that aspect of life, but at least they didn’t earn that money they aren’t giving by screwing over those exact people we complain about them not giving money to. Unlike those business men today who do screw people over and then never give back.

      I kind of read her as a warning of what will happen if we let the corrupt corporations and business men have their way. People who will basically run a company into the ground and still get away with billions while hundreds of employees are left jobless and companies who have to put on food drives during Thanksgiving for their employees because they don’t pay a living a wage (and knowingly acknowledge this) will and are destroying this economy. And I believe that is why she can’t be completely reviled. Disliked, yes. Hated, not really.

      Like

      July 7, 2014
  10. I agree with O’Connor as well! And while I haven’t read Ulysses, I despised A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. So, 2 points for the insulting authors.

    Like

    July 7, 2014
  11. One more reason to love O’Connor.

    Like

    July 7, 2014

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