The Simplest Thing in the World-Romantic Literature (MP3 download)
By Ayn Rand
This download includes two recordings:
The Simplest Thing in the World
Ayn Rand reads aloud her short story “The Simplest Thing in the World” which begins: “Henry Dorn sat at his desk and looked at a sheet of blank paper.” Written in 1940, this is a first-person narrative of a struggling writer trying desperately to write a story that he can sell. While grappling with the mindset of a public that criticized his first novel, he sits down to write something “simple” and “human,” something that will make him the money he needs so he can write the stories he really wants to write.
Rand wrote this story while she was engrossed in planning and writing The Fountainhead, which was published in 1943 after being rejected by some twelve publishers. Ayn Rand later said that the story “illustrates the nature of the creative process—the way in which an artist’s sense of life directs the integrating function of his subconscious and controls his creative imagination.”
From 1962 through 1965, Ayn Rand gave a series of radio interviews at Columbia University’s student- run radio station, WKCR. The series, entitled “Ayn Rand on Campus,” covered a broad range of topics. This download includes a 1964 interview from that series.
In this interview, students question Ayn Rand on her views of romantic literature and the “ideal society.”
Rand gives her definition of art and explains the fiction writer’s ability to present things “not as they are but as they might be and ought to be.” She discusses fantasy as a genre of fiction, categorizes a number of famous authors such as Shakespeare, Kafka, Huxley, Nabokov and Dostoyevsky, and explains why she considers herself a romantic realist. She also touches on depravity in literature and addresses whether fiction should be didactic.
Focusing on the writing of Victor Hugo, Rand contrasts the view of man expressed in his novels with the views contained in his explicit philosophy, and she explains why she admires his fiction greatly.
In her discussion of what an “ideal society” might look like, Rand clarifies the function of art in life and explains why it is needed. Responding to a question about children, Rand discusses how children form values, how parents can help or hinder a child in his development, and why children would be the greatest beneficiaries of an “ideal society.”
(MP3 download; 57 mins., 40.89 MB)
The description of this product was written and/or edited by ARI staff.