Saturday, 18 March 2017

The Graduate Student Who Inspired Ayn Rand To Publish A Book

Ayn Rand begins the Foreword to The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution with a letter form a reader. Here’s an excerpt from the letter:
Dear Miss Rand: 
I am a graduate student in sociology in Northern Illinois University and a student of Objectivism… 
Actually, what I want to discuss with you is your writings on the New Left. I have read them all and, in my opinion, they offer the best critical analysis that has ever been written on this movement. Your recent articles: “The Left: Old and New”; “Apollo and Dionysus”; and your recent article in The New York Times Sunday Magazine, “The New Left Represents an Intellectual Vacuum,” were superb. I recently reread your article, “The Cashing-In: The Student ‘Rebellion,’” published in 1965, and I was struck by how accurate ad prophetic your analysis was at that time. 
After reading these articles it occurred to me that, if they were all collected together and published (i.e., mass-distributed in paperback by Signet), they could have a tremendous impact on the culture and especially on the college campuses…
The letter is signed by just an initial: G. M. B.

Mr. G. M. B. did manage to convince Rand. A bit later on she says in the Foreword: “As a rule, I do not like practical suggestions from readers. But this was such a good idea so convincingly presented that I showed the letter to my publishers, who agreed with its writer wholeheartedly. Such was the origin of this book—with my thanks to Mr. G. M. B.”

When I read the book, I think 13 or 14 years ago, I remember wondering who this G. M. B. was. Well, then I had no way of finding out, but in the social media, you sometimes find people who can answer such questions. Mr. G. M. B. has been in my Facebook friend-list and I didn't know that he was the writer of this letter until he revealed it to me by himself a few days ago while we were discussing something else.

The initials stand for Gerald M. Biggers. On the social media he is Mr. Jerry Biggers. He says, “Of course, I am astounded that Miss Rand had followed-up on my suggestion for a book of her articles on the New Left, and was immensely grateful and honored that my letter was included.”

In 1999, The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution was reissued under a new title: Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution. Along with the complete original text, the new edition contains two additional essays by Ayn Rand, "Racism" and "Global Balkanization," and three essays by the editor, Peter Schwartz.

1 comment:

Jerry Biggers said...

Anoop: Thank you very much for your post about a letter to Ayn Rand which, to my pleasant surprise, she included in the Foreword to her book on The New Left: The Anti-Industrial Revolution (1971).

The publication was not a complete surprise, as Miss Rand's lawyers had sent me a letter asking for my consent (release) for publication in a book Miss Rand was preparing which may include reference to the letter.

My affirmative response took possibly a micro second, although not likely that long.

When I first saw a copy, it was on a book rack at a Denver Hotel, where I was attending the annual conference of the American Sociological Association. Ayn Rand, not exactly being a favorite author for many sociologists, the expression on the faces of some of my professors was , Their comments to me were, for the most part, unprintable. Definitely made my day!