In 1991, the book-of-the-month club conducted a survey asking people what book had most influenced their lives. The Bible ranked number one and Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged was number two. In 1998, the Modern Library released two lists of the top 100 books of the 20th century.By now it will surprise no one who has read even lightly on the subject that most modern intellectuals are radically out of sync with the general public. There are vanishingly few areas where that is to the credit of the so-called intelligentsia. As Rand once wrote, there are two ways to be outside of society: above it and below it.
One was compiled from the votes of the Modern Library's Board, consisting of luminaries such as Joyce Carol Oates, Maya Angelou, Edmund Morris, and Salman Rushdie. The two top-ranked books on the Board's list were Ulysses and The Great Gatsby.
The other list was based on more than 200,000 votes cast online by anyone who wanted to vote. The top two on that list were Atlas Shrugged (1957) and The Fountainhead (1943).
Fortunately, at long last, a new and more rational, pro-human-life-on-Earth breed of intellectuals is arising in number and influence, as Rand called for in her seminal book For the New Intellectual. Now, it's a race against time to save no less a value than Western Civilization itself, and thereby the chance for a good life of every innocent person on the planet.
Sound overly dramatic? Read Atlas Shrugged, if you haven't already, and then decide.
[Hat Tip: Scott at Powerline.
Note: It's unfortunate that he felt the need to reproduce Charles Murray's scurrilous ad hominem against Rand after the quote. One can't help but wonder why, even if it were true that Rand abused drugs (a charge denied by those who knew her best), anyone should care.
Clearly, contrary to Murray's implication, it had no effect on the sharpness of her mind or the insights of her philosophy. And, in the final analysis, do I have any reason to care that — I'm making all of these up — Wittgenstein smoked too much hash, or Hume drank to excess, or Dewey buggered little boys on Sunday mornings? Their words are what they are, regardless of whether they personally were saints or insane.
Yet, unable to stick to addressing her views, critics feel compelled to engage in hoary distraction via personal character slams. Pathetic, particularly since Murray has done some good work and certainly should know better.]