With Randmania breaking out this weekend with the appearance of a movie of Atlas Shrugged, readers may like to see William F. Buckley looking back on her work. He mentions the great review of the book by Whitaker Chambers’ review of Atlas Shrugged, published at the end of 1957, Big Sister is Watching You.
The review includes his famous line describing her attitude, especially effective after you’ve the whole review, but given here for the pleasure it brings (this is the first half of the next to last paragraph):
Something of this implication is fixed in the book’s dictatorial tone, which is much its most striking feature. Out of a lifetime of reading, I can recall no other book in which a tone of overriding arrogance was so implacably sustained. Its shrillness is without reprieve. Its dogmatism is without appeal. In addition, the mind which finds this tone natural to it shares other characteristics of its type. 1) It consistently mistakes raw force for strength, and the rawer the force, the more reverent the posture of the mind before it. 2) It supposes itself to be the bringer of a final revelation. Therefore, resistance to the Message cannot be tolerated because disagreement can never be merely honest, prudent, or just humanly fallible. Dissent from revelation so final (because, the author would say, so reasonable) can only be willfully wicked. There are ways of dealing with such wickedness, and, in fact, right reason itself enjoins them. From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: “To a gas chamber — go!”
I’ve closed the comments, there being no point in letting her devotees — and their attachment does seem religious — make the predictable remarks. Subscribers will have seen or will soon see (depending on the U.S. Post Office, David Hart’s take down of Miss Rand and her book.