Imagine Receiving This Letter from Ayn Rand

As we celebrate the sixtieth anniversary year of the publication of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged in 1957, here’s an interesting letter written by the author just a few weeks after the October 10 publication date. In this letter, Rand’s warm and supportive responsiveness to fans is on full display, along with her characteristic rectitude in facing up to cultural resistance. And in closing, she offers encouragement and advice for those who want to influence future trends.

*   *   *

To Frederica McManus, a fan

December 14, 1957

Dear Mrs. McManus:

Thank you for your very attractive letter. Or, to be exact, “attractive” applies to the personality that your letter seems to communicate.

I am glad that you liked Atlas Shrugged. You say that it frightened you. It was meant to. But — forewarned is forearmed. We are still free to stop the collectivist-altruist trend that is destroying the world. My purpose was not merely to portray the horror of altruism, but to show the kind of life and character men have the capacity to achieve on the proper, rational morality. My purpose is not just to defeat Wesley Mouch, but to make John Galt possible.

You say that you cannot find anyone willing to listen to you. I know that a hopeless, cynical passivity is people’s prevalent attitude today, as a result of our moral vacuum. But, for the same reason, there are people who are desperately eager to hear; they are those who have not given up. I suggest that you look for them. To whatever degree you succeed in making yourself heard, large or small — it is of such voices that the changes of world trends are made.

Wishing you “best premises” —

Ayn Rand

*   *   *

This letter appears on pp. 498-99 of Letters of Ayn Rand. To read more of Ayn Rand’s fascinating letters (spanning the years 1926 to 1981), check out Letters of Ayn Rand.

Plus, here’s how to learn more about Atlas Shrugged.