Friday, January 16, 2015

Any Rand (for Ayn Rand)

Ayn Rand, primarily known for the novels Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, once wrote a play called Woman on Trial. It opened in Los Angeles in 1934, and was produced on Broadway the following year under the title Night of January 16th. Inspired by the death of Ivar Kreugar, the so-called "Match King," Ayn Rand's play concerns a woman accused of murdering her lover; selected audience members play the jury, thus nightly rewriting the ending. There's a lot to be said about Ayn Rand, her "conservative" politics, her "objectivist" philosophy, and her internal contradictions, much more than can really be discussed at any length here. But I loved this random fact gleaned from the Wikipedia article about her: "Her closest friend was Vladimir Nabokov's younger sister, Olga." Though the two Russian writers apparently didn't know each other, it looks as if their paths may have crossed in childhood, in addition to later on when Atlas Shrugged and Lolita were both on the New York Times bestseller list. There were four examples of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 23 in WorldCat. Once again, you may get a few false positives with this search (e.g., "It does not reflect any RAND research"), but the vast majority should prove to be typos for Rand's first name—which is to say, her assumed name: her given name was Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum. It's thought that Ayn was based on the Finnish name Aino or perhaps the Hebrew word עין (ayin, meaning "eye"). It might be noted that the RAND Corporation was not named for the first lady of libertarianism; it is an acronym for "Research ANd Development." I'll leave you with one of the best and wittiest arguments for the serial comma, not to mention Rand's own reputation, taken from the "apocryphal book dedication" quoted by Teresa Nielsen Hayden: To my parents, Ayn Rand and God. Dedicate your typo searching time to all your "Ayn Rand" records today and make sure there aren't any spelled Any.

(Portrait of Ayn Rand, February 2, 1905–March 6, 1982, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

One might adapt the old University of Chicago economists / light bulb joke here and say if any Ayn Rand typos need correcting, the market will correct them.