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Source link: http://archive.mises.org/7246/ayn-rand-and-garet-garrett/

Ayn Rand and Garet Garrett

October 2, 2007 by

In Justin Raimondo’s fun and lively book Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement, he makes an argument that I did not find convincing. He argued that Rand’s 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged was clearly influenced by the 1922 Garet Garrett novel The Driver–that Rand never acknowledged this “source” and that if this was not quite plagiarism, then “Rand’s silence on this subject amounted to a deliberate deception.”

I’ve never been convinced by this conclusion. There is no doubt that Atlas, whatever else may be said about it, is original. Even if Rand was influenced by Garrett, there is simply no case to made for plagiarism or deception.

Yet the question of whether Rand did read The Driver is of interest. There are, as Raimondo points out, some thematic similarities between the novels. In Reclaiming, Raimondo he says that “the clearest evidence, albeit circumstantial, that Rand did indeed read The Driver” is a certain “stylistic device.” That is, the question “Who is Henry Galt?”, which is similar to Atlas‘s repeated line, “Who is John Galt?”Raimondo concludes, “From the overwhelming mass of evidence it is clear that Rand was influenced by Garrett. The similarities between The Driver and Atlas Shrugged are too numerous and too detailed to be coincidence.”

As noted, I find the deception/quasi-plagiarism charge to be completely unconvincing, but I was not even persuaded of the contention that Rand had even been influenced by Garrett (not that there would have been anything wrong if she had). But I just came across Garrett’s Cinder Buggy: A Fable in Iron and Steel, a novel that

“chronicles the transformation of American industry from the age of iron to the age of steel.” “The plot concerns an ongoing war between two industrialists, one the hero who is beaten in the first generation and the other who is malevolent but initially wins an ongoing struggle. The struggle continues through the second generation, which leads to the titanic struggle over whether steel or iron would triumph and why.”

Hmm. A steel industrialist. Hmm.

One of the major characters in Atlas is Hank Rearden (2):

Iron-willed inventor, and founder of the Rearden Steel empire, Hank Rearden is, with Francisco and Galt, one of the novel’s three major heroes. Rearden’s quest to understand and resolve his moral and emotional conflicts is central to the plot. His revolutionary new alloy, Rearden Metal, makes him a target of predators in government, industry, and his own family.

Yet another similarity? Maybe. I suppose–though I’m still not convinced–Rand may have read Garrett’s novels, and the themes and use of industrialists (railroad; steel) may have influenced her. (I’m not sure I see any links, though, to Satan’s Bushel, the third of Garrett’s trilogy.) Food for thought.

Update: Comments I wrote a friend about this:

I never read Garrett but from the way Raimondo described it, it was obvious that the argument for “plagiarism” is not only strained, but undefined. Ihis is  the problem with intellectual property and related concepts. As an IP lawyer there is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that there is not a bit of a copyright infringement by Rand here. Even if she did read the driver even if she did adopt some of its motifs and even overall plot ideas. None. This is perfectly permissible. And I do not think she even read it. Why would she intentionally use the same name as the hero of that novel? It makes no sense. She wanted to be original.

So all you have left is “plagiarism.” But what is plagiarism? Another nebulous, undefined concept, bound up in the idea of IP. Real plagiarism is turning in a paper someone else wrote, with your name on it–that is, dishonestly pretending you are the author of something you are not. What in the world has this got to do with being influenced by others? EVERYONE is “influenced” by others. Rand’s story is undoubtedly original. Therefore, it is not only clearly not copyright infringement, it is not plagiarism. You’d have to say Garrett wrote the story and she put her name on it. Rand obviously didn’t do this.

IP is influencing all this. For copyright we say you “stole” the other’s work–”used it” “without permission”. For plagiarism you “stole” someone else’s work–put it forward with your name on it as if you wrote it; i.e., “stole” here means you LIED. All this mushy-mouthed reasoning, overuse of metaphors,imprecise use of concepts leads to equivocation.

So all we have left is “failure to give attribution.” But what clear ethical or scholarly rule requires the author of a NOVEL to drop fricking footnotes saying “I was influenced by XYZ on this theme/plot device”?

I guess if you fail to drop a footnote to the right reference it’s “theft” now?? If you are “influenced” by someone else, it’s “theft.” If you fail to drop a footnote admitting to your “theft,” you are “deceptive” or a “plagiarist” to boot.

IP corrupts everything.

Appendix: Notes on Raimondo’s Comments on Atlas and The Driver

From p. 199 of Reclaiming the American Right:

“There is a second, and deper, level on which the assertion of Rand’s utter uniqueness is a lie. … The Randian claim to have given birth to a philosophy without antecedents, which amounts to an Objectivist version of the Virgin Birth, is proved false by the fact that Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged, bears such a strong resemblance to Garet Garrett’s 1922 novel The Driver, that there arises a real question as to whether Rand passed the boundaries of acceptable behavior in “borrowing” a little too much.”

Raimondo alludes to “the clearest evidence, albeit circumstantial, that Rand did indeed read The Driver” is a certain “stylistic device.” He mentions Rand’s “intellectual and artistic debt to Garet Garrett”.


“From the overwhelming mas of evidence it is clear that Rand was influenced by Garrett. The similarities between the Driver and Atlast Shrugged are too numerous and too detailed to be coincidence. This is not a question of plagiarism. What is really at issue is the authenticity of Rand’s claim to stand not at the end but at the beginning of a tradition. The Driver proves beyond the shadow of a doubt that this is untrue. The only question is whether this was a conscious lie on Rand’s part.”

“My own theory is that Ayn Rand knew perfectly well what she was doing, and did not regard it as appropriating anything. … I believe Rand never acknowledged Garrett as a source for two reasons. … she probably considered him to be a minor writer whom she certainly did not intend to imitate or plagiarize, but only to improve on. … while not plagiarism in the legal sense, the unacknowledged and–in my view–conscious use of Garrett’s work as a starting point for her own does, in this case, constitute intellectual fraud.”

Rand’s silence on this subject amounted to a deliberate deception. … this is not a case of word-for-word plagiarism.”

See also p. 322 (middle paragraph) of The Age of Rand: Imagining an Objectivist Future World.

Sciabarra writes:

“4. Some of Walker’s insights are original, including, for example, a unique, though improbable, thesis about the origins of Rand’s chosen name (278). However, Walker too often reiterates points made by others: First, he mentions John Gall of the National Association of Manufacturers, with whom Rand corresponded, as a possible model for John Galt. Then he repeats Justin Raimondo’s unsupported claims that Rand plagiarized Garet Garrett’s The Driver. Neither Walker nor Raimondo suggest any similarity between the hero of Atlas Shrugged and the real-life John Galt, an “unusual type” of nineteenth-century “entrepreneur with talents in poetry and writing,” who was involved in North American railroad investments. See Thomas E. Appleton’s Ravenscrag: The Allan Royal Mail Line (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1974), 63-64. Rand, of course, may not have even been aware of her character’s real-life namesake. Thanks to Larry Sechrest for bringing this to my attention.”


Daniel M. Ryan October 2, 2007 at 1:06 pm

There’s a common-sensical way to assess the influence that Garrett may have had on Rand: give Garrett’s novels to someone that has never read Atlas Shrugged, mention those similarities to the person, show the person in question the back-cover description of Atlas, and ask him/her what Atlas is about.

Student October 2, 2007 at 3:54 pm

Here’s a question, Steve. What would convince you that Rand was influenced by Garrett’s book?

The fact that her novel shadows the plot, characters, and rhetorical devices of “The Driver” does not convince you there was some influence. So what would? A video of Rand confessing “you know, a lot of my most important work was lifted from someone else”?

It’s incredible how hard some people will squint their eyes to avoid seeing the dirt covering the capes of their heros. pity.

Stephan Kinsella October 2, 2007 at 4:07 pm

Student, you have no charge to make such unfair accusations. Anyone who’s read my writing has seen a number of harsh criticisms of Rand and Randians. I am not sure what it would take to show an influence–persuasive evidence, I would think. I happen not to be persuaded by this. I have no dog in this race. I could not care less whether Rand was, or was not, influenced by Garrett. I do find in to be an interesting literary question, but just don’t know the answer. I’m confident there was nothing deceptive about it; but whether there was influence, I don’t know.

Axel Riemer October 2, 2007 at 6:07 pm

I have read neither Rand nor Garrett, but as a jazz musician, I fervently believe imitation is the most sincere form of flattery.

More to the point, from whence did Garrett’s inspiration arise? Might both Garrett and Rand have identified with the same historical events, and both wished to write a novel on the subject?

Would that more people would imitate Garrett.

Daniel October 2, 2007 at 6:21 pm


What does it really matter? Does it make Rand’s ideas and contributions (or Garett’s, or whomever) any less compelling? It is, at worst and at best, an interesting bit of trivia.

I think anyone who would take offence or jump to the immediate defence of any such claims dislike/like Rand for the wrong reasons (i.e. focusing on the person rather than the ideas).

I love Rand’s work and was not aware of the existence of Garett until I read about him on this site. Thank you LvMI yet again.

Mark Humphrey October 2, 2007 at 6:38 pm

Justin Raimondo barks up an empty tree with this howler:

“There is a second, and deeper, level on which the assertion of Rand’s utter uniqueness is a lie. … The Randian claim to have given birth to a philosophy without antecedents, which amounts to an Objectivist version of the Virgin Birth, is proved false by the fact that Rand’s novel, Atlas Shrugged, bears such a strong resemblance to Garet Garrett’s 1922 novel The Driver, that there arises a real question as to whether Rand passed the boundaries of acceptable behavior in “borrowing” a little too much.”

I could easily conceive of Rand’s having been influenced as to plot snippets from reading Garet Garrett. But the claim quoted above from Raimondo that Rand’s ideas are essentially retreads from past thinkers is, well…preposterous.

Every productive thinker who discovers new ideas stands to some considerable extent on the shoulders of intellectual predecessors. Clearly, Rand learned a great deal about philosophy from Aristotle, and from scholars who labored to understand and explain Aristotle to their readers. Aristotle’s primary insights are essential to Rand’s outlook. Ayn Rand learned a great deal about economics from von Mises and other free market thinkers, ideas that no doubt helped to shape or confirm her her ideas about ethics and the benevolence of liberty. Indeed, it is safe to speculate that Rand learned a great deal from a virtual King’s Stable of thinkers and writers. But this fact does not detract from the originality of Rand’s view of the world.

What is original about Rand’s world view is its metaphysics of naturalism, and its epistemology of reason. Someone correct me, please, if I’m wrong here, but most thinkers who view the world as a natural order do so from the perspective of epistemological skepticism. Intellectuals like Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens contend that the universe is a natural order, and that God does not exist, as creator or observer. But these thinkers, and virtually “all” other naturalists (according to my limited field of vision) are epistemological agnostics. When one comes right down to it, these thinkers believe, no one really knows anything “with certainty”. These thinkers stake out this position based on varying rationales which reduce to the same conclusion: man can’t know anything because his senses are invalid, or his mind is ruled by categories, or his thoughts are determined by forces outside his will, and so forth.

Rand held, with Aristotle and his descendants, that the universe is a natural order that has no beginning in time or boundaries in space, a realm in which contradictions are impossible, a realm in which order and causality are natural and inevitable. But, in contrast to reductive materialists and other contemporary thinkers, Rand thought that the universe is, in principle, accessible to man’s understanding. Man may be ignorant of many aspects of the world at any particular time, but none of those aspects are, by their nature, mysterious and unknowable.

Man’s unique power over nature is his volitional ability to reason, Rand explained; and she wrote a dense book on epistemology, in which she delineated the processes by which man builds a logically integrated hierarchy of increasingly abstract concepts on the foundation of the evidence of the senses.

Ayn Rand distilled the most characterisitic ideas from the Age of Reason and purified them, revealing and discarding errors, integrating and systematizing the philosophy of Objectivism. While her ideas are “Aristotelian”, those ideas are primarily the product of a certain way of thinking, as opposed to an intellectual policy of begging and borrowing.

It seems obvious to me, at least, that her philosophy was unique and monumental.

Daniel October 2, 2007 at 6:56 pm

Thats a nice synopsis, Mark.

The most negative thing that the detractors of Rand could point to would not be that she was influenced by others (including possibly Garett) but rather that she didnt credit those others with the fact that they did influence her.

It really is a non-issue as far as I am concerned. She did more to spread and foster the ideas of liberty and freedom than nearly anyone else. She was a brilliant communicator and thinker, perhaps a little too polemic at times, but this can readily be understood when one looks at the time in which she lived and wrote.

Nasikabatrachus October 2, 2007 at 8:37 pm

I’m surprised Kinsella didn’t mention the similarities between Yevgeny Zemyatin’s “We” and Ayn Rand’s “Anthem”.

Startling similarities, I tell ya whut.

jeffrey October 2, 2007 at 9:50 pm

The sad part of these assertions concerning Rand and Garret is that Garrett is somehow caught in the crossfire. I’ve sensed that some people might stay away from his fiction for fear that reading him would somehow constitute an endorsement of the thesis that Rand is a thief or something — and the whole thing is ridiculous.

You can love Rand and still go nuts for Garrett. Or read Garrett and never read Rand, etc. etc. They are different authors.

I’m just very sorry that the first thing anyone knew about The Driver was this whole Rand business. It deserves recognition as fiction on its own terms, and same with the other two books.

Black Bloke October 2, 2007 at 10:20 pm

I wonder if the Randroids who learn about this, change their minds about Rand’s burning fury over the supposed “debt” that libertarians owe her?

Q: Libertarians advocate the politics you advocate. So why are you opposed to the Libertarian Party? [FHF: 'Egalitarianism and Inflation,' 1974]

AR: They are not defenders of capitalism. They’re a group of publicity seekers who rush into politics prematurely, because they allegedly want to educate people through a political campaign, which can’t be done. Further, their leadership consists of men of every of persuasion, from religious conservatives to anarchists. Moreover, most of them are my enemies: they spend their time denouncing me, while plagiarizing my ideas. Now, I think it’s a bad beginning for an allegedly pro-capitalist party to start by stealing ideas.”

Q: Do you think Libertarians communicate the ideas of freedom and capitalism effectively? [Q&A following LP's 'Objective Communication,' Lecture 1, 1980]

AR: I don’t think plagiarists are effective. I’ve read nothing by a Libertarian (when I read them, in the early years) that wasn’t my ideas badly mishandled—i.e., had the teeth pulled out of them—with no credit given. I didn’t know whether I should be glad that no credit was given, or disgusted. I felt both. They are perhaps the worst political group today, because they can do the most harm to capitalism, by making it disreputable.”

Q: Why don’t you approve of the Libertarians, thousands of whom are loyal readers of your works? [FHF: 'The Age of Mediocrity,' 1981]

AR: Because Libertarians are a monstrous, disgusting bunch of people: they plagiarize my ideas when that fits their purpose, and they denounce me in a more vicious manner than any communist publication, when that fits their purpose. They are lower than any pragmatists, and what they hold against Objectivism is morality. They’d like to have an amoral political program.”

Hypocrite? No… “Ayn Rand is the greatest person that has ever lived or ever shall live.”

See also: The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult

daniel October 3, 2007 at 12:44 am

Why are you endorsing this cult-like activity? Do you disagree with her philosophy? Or just some silly comments she made?

I would find it difficult for a libertarian to disagree with Rand’s ideas. Her personality and her eccentricities perhaps, but not her ideas or her contributions.

Nonetheless, some people, like Black Bloke, appear to disregard her ideas and continue to focus on her eccentricities.

AFOB - A Friend of Both October 3, 2007 at 1:46 am

“The Driver” is a story of a businessman who through hard work and determination SAVES a railroad from ruin brought on by poor management from within and government meddling from without. Henry Galt does so by working smarter and harder within the existing economic and social framework, based on his observation that the problems he faces are mainly a matter of confidence and hard work. Garet Garrett’s point is to illustrate that a free man in a free society can achieve personal success through hard intelligent work. The life story of Henry Galt is presented as an argument in itself should be perceived as self-evidently true.

“Atlas Shrugged” is the story of an engineer who DESTROYS a railroad, and the rest of the welfare state with it, because he reasons that only by rejecting the false ideas on which the welfare state is based can he vindicate his right to live his own life. John Galt recognizes that the essential problems cannot be fixed by hard work or confidence, but only by identifying and correcting the philosophic errors on which they are based.

Atlas Shrugged rejects the implicit premise that examples, such as the life of a Henry Galt, can establish that individual freedom is self-evidently valid and worthwhile. Ayn Rand shows in fundamental detail that matters of philosophy (which Henry Galt cared nothing about) are in fact the essential basis for a society of reason and individual freedom.

That these books are fundamentally different can be seen by addressing the observation that both contain the question “Who is ___ Galt?” In The Driver, this question is a passing device presented mainly in a single significant scene. It is used simply as one of many examples that Henry Galt was considered brash because he took matters into his own hands without apparent authority to do so.

In Atlas Shrugged, the question is a far more elaborate literary device, and goes to the heart of the book. Ayn Rand makes clear that the question of “who is” the individual, and by what right, through what methods, and with what purpose the individual acts and conducts his life, is absolutely fundamental. Only by answering these questions fully and consistently can reasoned conclusions be drawn to establish the rights of the individual and secure a free society.

Those who seek to use superficial parallels as a means to demean the significance of Ayn Rand should point out explicitly any example they may have where she disparaged or denied knowing about Garet Garrett or his work. If such examples exist, it would only be fair to point them out so they can be addressed before attempting to score points at her expense.

Most who come across Mises.org here in 2007 likely share the view that we face an impending economic crisis marked by a credit collapse and a major turn to the political left. If there were ever a time to look for common ground rather than speculative slights, this would be it. Like Garrett, Ayn Rand held an essentially Austrian outlook on matters of economics and political freedom. Both deserve gratitude for their work in the face of incredible hostility.

Athough I have no basis whatsoever for saying so other than my appreciation for both authors, I’d like to think that any parallels that aren’t purely coincidental occurred because Ayn Rand chose to honor Garet Garrett. Being a fan of both, the only association these two books have in my mind is positive — not negative.

James October 3, 2007 at 4:11 am

“Who is ___ Galt?”

That is the question?

In my mind, it either is plagiarism and Rand thought that Garret’s work would be lost to the memory hole (entirely possible given her personality as the quotes above illustrate).

Or, it is akin to the infinitesimal odds of two writers using the phrase “Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him” in two distinct works a few years apart with no knowledge of each other.

Or, she was honoring Garret in a backhanded way and realized the power of his story and sought to take it one step further with her own story of heroism.

The truth probably lies somewhere in between and will rest on your opinion of Rand’s personality.

Anthony October 3, 2007 at 8:26 am

For all Rand’s faults, she was a great thinker. Objectivism is in need of further systematization and revision (something Kelley is doing), but otherwise it is still a wonderful philosophical system. I’m not sure what is the point of a war between Randians and libertarians. Many Randians are closer to Austrians than mainstream libertarians.

eric lansing October 3, 2007 at 8:40 am

great post AFOB

Mark Humphrey October 3, 2007 at 1:48 pm

AFOB: Thanks for your excellent post.

Daniel, perhaps Rand did not credit her intellectual benefactors sufficently. I’m not sure about this. However, I do know that she often referred to Aristotle’s ideas as profoundly important and essential to clear understanding; and I know she applauded von Mises’ economics, with a few reservations about his philosophical premises.

Rand’s bitterness was unfortunate; I don’t know exactly what she meant by plagarism by libertarians. I do suspect she was correct in her observation that her most bitter critics tend to be libertarians who recoil from the idea of an explicit moral code, and who resent Rand’s demonstration that “personal moral values” must be the logical starting point in deriving and proving that individual rights exist.

Judith October 3, 2007 at 2:16 pm

“It seems obvious to me, at least, that her philosophy was unique and monumental”

Everything I have read of Ayn Rand has always struck me as trite. I thought every idea of my own was unique and monumental, when I was 13. When I read Ayn Rand I have the sense that I am reading the ideas of a self-absorbed 13 year old.

Juan October 3, 2007 at 2:23 pm

I do like Rand’s novels.

What I find a bit hard to swallow is her apparent claim that she ‘invented’ a new and revolutionary phylosophy wich starts with Aristotle and end with her. There’s no such thing as ‘classical liberalism’ for Rand – wich is odd in my opinion.

Daniel October 3, 2007 at 6:38 pm


If Rand’s ideas arent unique or monumental, does it change their validity? Really, does any of this matter one iota to the value of Objectivism as a philosophy?

The only thing the the cult of Ayn Rand and its detractors seem to have in common is a stubborn insistence on focusing not on the ideas but on the person.

Daniel October 3, 2007 at 6:41 pm


Im not sure that she makes such a jump. She wrote with admiration about the Founders, Aquinas, and others.

What does make her a little different is that she was of the “classical liberal” school (not sure if that is entirely accurate) but was virulently atheist.

Mark Sunwall October 3, 2007 at 9:25 pm

This may be tangential to the plagerism question…but it seems to me that Rand, contrary to what most people say, was a far better essayist than a novelist. Perhaps it is a distortion of the cult like appeal which she exercised over her followers, but the orthodox alternatives are that Rand was either 1) a great novelist, or 2) a great philosopher. I don’t think she was either, but she was a seminal and important thinker for the freedom movement, much like Tomas Paine in the American Revolution. Her incisiveness is best expressed in her short works…but her novels are padded with long, omitable passages which which her readers plow through out of a sense of duty. “For the New Intellectual” is probably a tacit admission of this, with its pithy excerpts. As far as philosophy goes, she could never get around to writing anything more than a short monograph on epistemology…and why should she have done more? As soon as she breached the lines of technical philosophy she had already gone “a bridge too far.” On the other hand she wrote eloquently and influentially about the poltics of guilt, the anticonceptual nature of progressive education, and the misanthropy of the left. She was the greatest American essayist of the 20th century. That should be enough.

Anthony October 3, 2007 at 10:43 pm

I agree with Mark Sunwall. I would say she was best as a rhetoretician. She put thoughts into words most wonderfully. She was good as a systematizer, but other professional philosophers (e.g. Kelley) and economists (e.g. Reisman) have done a better job of polishing and refining her philosophical system.

flash December 6, 2007 at 12:07 pm

I for one will not discount her enormous mind work – by any measure she was a brilliant commentator of the ideas of liberty, freedom and laissez faire.

If one takes the time to really study the bulk of her work, and to listen to recordings of her in situations where she had to reply on demand, this was not a person who did not have matters to which she wrote, and thought, fully internalized…

With all due respect to the intelligent detractors out here, I suspect none would stand a chance in a face to face debate with her. It is far too easy at this late date to take pot shots; to refer to her work as lacking in freshness, or effectiveness, with 50 years hindsight in hand, is a feat of insensitive hubris hardly to be matched

My vote goes to Mark Humphrey on this one.

Mark Howard December 4, 2008 at 5:33 am

I was recently hugely embarrassed after lending Rand’s Anthem to a Russian colleague. She handed back the book, telling me it was a direct copy of a book she had loved as a teenager.

Clearly Rand loved it, too.

Yevgeny Zamyatin’s We, 1921, was published four years before Rand fled Russia. It was a hugely influential novel that Russians know well.

Rand’s Anthem, 1938, copies the story line in all key respects – with numbers for names, people call themselves “we”, live in glass houses. Everything is organised according to primitive mathematics. The lead character loves a woman, discovers an ancient society, flees to the forest, is caught and forced to submit.

Two books based on the works of others is too much to swallow, even if you can persaude me to overlook how much Rand “lifted” from Garrett’s Driver when she wrote Atlas..

I am afraid plagiarism is the inescapable conclusion.

“Plagiarism is the use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work.”

The only defence against charges of plagiarism is that you made clear, at time of publication, your debt to the original author.

Is there any evidence that Rand acknowledged and credited those whose work she used?

Per-Olof Samuelsson December 4, 2008 at 10:37 am

I saw this charge of plagiarism in an article by some seedy, nauseating academic, written in the late sixties. So I borrowed “We” at the local library. It’s a very different novel from “Anthem”; the similarities (such as the device of using numbers instead of names) are superficial.

Accusations of this kind should be stuffed up where they belong.

Franklin Harris April 25, 2009 at 9:10 pm

In the case of “We,” I would say that “Anthem” is Rand’s response to “We” rather than a plagiarism of it. The similarities are intentional insofar as Rand wants to tell the same story while showing that socialism would destroy technological innovation. The society in “We” is far too advanced for a purely socialist/authoritarian society. Also, Rand, even at this early stage of her career, is rejecting any dichotomy between emotion/art and science/reason, while “We” does not.

Jamie Kelso May 7, 2009 at 2:37 am

Henry Galt in “The Driver” (1922) and John Galt in “The Strike” (changed to “Atlas Shrugged”) in 1957. Poor Garet Garrett died in 1954, which I guess emboldened Ayn Rand (Alyssa Rosenbaum) to slightly change a few names, knowing that the dead Garrett couldn’t point out the fraud of this “moocher” (one of Rand’s favorite terms of opprobrium) not just stealing his plot….but having so little original imagination as to be unable to come up even with an original name for a hero! Yikes. Moocher city.

BDA September 5, 2009 at 1:29 pm

Mark Howard wrote: “I am afraid plagiarism is the inescapable conclusion.”

‘Plagiarism is the use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work.’

It’s a rather trifling to ultimately use the definition of plagiarism from wikipedia for a determination on this issue…on this level, however, it appears Rand is freed from all criticism as the definition uses the conjunctive “and” rather than “or” in two instances. In particular, plagiarism requires both the imitation of language AND thoughts. Despite the critics establishing the first part, the imitation of the language or literary devices, it appears Ms. Rand avails herself from plagiarism as no one has put forth serious evidence that Rand’s thoughts were the product of another person.
2) Assuming plagiarism is established under wikipedia’s definition, or any other definition of plagiarism, the work’s of Rand remain profound and the ideas within remain in tact.

John Howard February 19, 2010 at 12:29 pm

There is the coincidence of the last name of Galt. In The Driver, Henry Galt is a heroic, clever and aggresive railroad business man (who refers to himself, in one scene, as “The Driver”). There are political and financial villians and clearly Garrett is sympathetic to his hero, Galt, and to his daringly creative business methods.

But beyond that, comparisons to Atlas Shrugged are silly. There is none of the sweeping philosophical themes that Rand presents. And Garrett’s Henry Galt is more comparable to Rand’s Henry Readon – before his conversion to John Galt’s philosophical views.

Even if Rand intentionally borrowed the name and railroad from Garrett, it should properly be viewed as being in honor of Garrett. It is absurd to suggest that it is plagerism. There is not enough substance in a name or a background of the railroad business to justify such silly accusations. The Driver is nothing more than a sympathetic view of a businessman. Garrett hardly has a copyright on businessmen and railroads.

But since Rand dared to speak against religion and altruism (the heart of religion) she will be forever smeared by the pious.

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