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Who Is Henry Galt? Ayn Rand and Plagiarism

Can it be that a fraud has been perpetrated on the readers and admirers of novelist-philosopher Ayn Rand—a literary and intellectual swindle that veers perilously close to plagiarism? That such a charge could be leveled at the author of The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged is irony bordering on farce. For the spirit that animated the feisty little Russian woman, who preached a philosophy of individualism, capitalism, and "rational egoism," would seem to rule out such behavior. After all, in The Fountainhead, a major crime of one of the chief villains is to take credit for the hero's work. The whole spirit of the Randian creed was best expressed in that novel, in an exchange between the hero, Howard Roark, an aspiring young architect, and the dean of his college, who is about to expel him for his unorthodox ideas. The dean declares that there has been nothing new in the field • of architecture since the Parthenon, and Roark answers: "I inherit nothing. I stand at the end of no tradition. I may, perhaps, stand at the beginning of one."

Although this appears in a work of fiction, it clearly expresses Rand's own view of her relationship to the history of ideas. As she gathered a group around her, Rand's chief appeal, at least to the young, was that this was something unprecedented. Like Howard Roark and the goddess Athena, Ayn...

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