Ayn Rand's Fountainhead and Its Russian Antecedents

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The American novelist Ayn Rand (1905-82), who has strongly influenced right-wing politics in the Western Anglophone world, was a product of late imperial Russia, where she grew up. In this article, I use Rand’s first major novel, The Fountainhead (1943), to illustrate her unacknowledged debt to certain nineteenth-century Russian writers and thinkers. It is in their works that we find the seeds of Rand’s controversial thoughts on religion and atheism, determinism and free will, egoism and altruism. They shaped her critique of socialism, her celebration of self-interest, and her division of mankind into a self-willed elite and a compliant herd. 
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)763-790
Number of pages28
JournalModern Language Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 31 Oct 2020


  • Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead, atheism, determinism, free will, egoism, altruism, socialism, self-interest, Russian thought and literature


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