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הרצאות ד"ר שושנה מילגרם 

ההרצאות הועברו בחודש אוגוסט 2013 במסגרת פעילות המרכז

Shoshana Milgram holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from Stanford University. Associate Professor of English at Virginia Tech, she has published articles on nineteenth- and twentieth-century figures in French, Russian, and English/American literature, including Napoleon, Hugo, George Sand, Chekhov, Dostoevsky, Tolstoi, Victoria Cross, George Eliot, Fowles, W. S. Gilbert, Henry James, LeGuin, Nabokov, Herbert Spencer, Sondheim, W.T. Stead, E.L. Voynich—and Ayn Rand. She is also the author of introductions to editions of Toilers of the Sea and The Man Who Laughs, by Victor Hugo, The Seafarers, by Nevil Shute, and Graustark, by George Barr McCutcheon. She has lectured on Ayn Rand in undergraduate and graduate courses, at Objectivist conferences, at national and international academic conferences, and at the Smithsonian Institution. Her current project is a study of Ayn Rand’s life up to 1957.

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"Writing and Rewriting Atlas Shrugged: Ayn Rand’s Mind at Work”

The history of the writing of Atlas Shrugged is itself a story. In this lecture, we will go back in time to the years before the novel became fixed and final. Ayn Rand’s manuscripts demonstrate—in the words of Richard Halley, a character in her novel—“what discipline, what effort, what tension of mind, what unrelenting strain upon one’s power of clarify are needed to produce a work of art.” After a survey of her philosophical and literary preparations, we will examine, selectively, her small-scale and large-scale editing, with special emphasis on sequences of romantic relationships and philosophical discourse. The goal is to get a bit closer to the life of Ayn Rand while she was engaged in the creation of Atlas Shrugged, a work of art.
Fifty-six years after the publication of Atlas Shrugged, it could seem as if this magnificent novel has always been there, as if it is part of the fabric of reality, as if it is and has always been metaphysical. Looking at the creative process, though, one remembers that Atlas Shrugged was not there until Ayn Rand wrote it, paragraph by paragraph, word by word. One remembers that it is never to be taken for granted, that it is and always was man-made, that its greatness show what is possible for a human being to achieve. Ayn Rand’s drafts are inspiring not only to those who work with words, but to all who work with their minds—that is, to everyone.

Building a Masterpiece: Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead

Howard Roark, the heroic protagonist of Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead, described as follows his architectural credo and technique: "Nothing can be reasonable or beautiful unless it's made by one central idea, and the idea sets every detail. A building is alive, like a man. Its integrity is to follow its own truth, its one single theme, and to serve its own single purpose. A man doesn't borrow pieces of his body. A building doesn't borrow hunks of its soul. Its maker gives it the soul and every wall, window and stairway to express it."

In The Fountainhead, the central idea, the principle that sets every detail, is the conflict—within the human soul—between individualism (intellectual sovereignty, acting on one’s independent judgment for the sake of one’s chosen values) and collectivism (intellectual dependence, the failure to see through one’s own eyes and to act for one’s own sake). The Fountainhead shows how and why individualism, not collectivism, prevails (and should prevail) in the world, or: the morality and efficaciousness of first-handedness, or, speaking colloquially, hero vs. zero. Every episode, every sequence, every detail of the novel—all are set by the central idea, which gives the novel its soul, and every wall, window, and stairway to express it. The integration of The Fountainhead itself, as constructed by Ayn Rand, matches the integrity of its hero.

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