“As to Europe—keep it in a gray, ominous, evil fog.”—Ayn Rand (1905–1982) thus commented on the role of Europe in her key novel, Atlas Shrugged (1957). The same could be said of the way Europe features in her own biography and in the general perception of her persona. Even though Rand was born in pre-revolutionary Russia, she is nowadays considered anAmerican phenomenon, whose reach ends at the Atlantic shore. This book lifts the "gray fog" cast over her relationship with Europe, retracing the changing perception of the continent in both her fiction and thought. Her apparent lack of success with European readers is often explained by allegedly different reading tastes. However, a look at her publication history and reception shows that many factors played a role why her work found fewer European than US readers. Finally, an archipelago of European readers and admirers emerges which is testament to Rand's impact on European art and politics.
Claudia Franziska Brühwiler holds a doctorate in Political Science and a venia legendi (PD; Privatdozentin) in American Studies from the University of St.Gallen where she teaches U.S. politics, history, and culture.
Introduction: All-American Rand?
Chapter 1: Writer, Philosopher, Icon, Dime-Store Ideologue? Categorizing Rand
Chapter 2: Choosing America, Being European
Chapter 3: “A Huge Cemetery”: Russia as Dystopia
Chapter 4: Rand’s Europe: From Utopia to a “State-worshipping Culture”
Chapter 5: Kantian Evils and Aristotelian Misunderstandings: Randian Usage of European Philosophy
Chapter 6: Lost in Translation: Publishing Rand in Europe
Chapter 7: Tea Party Icon and Capitalist Porn: Rand in the European Media
Chapter 8: A European Collective? Randian Thought across the Atlantic
Chapter 9: Critical Reflections: Rand through the Lens of European Artists
Claudia Bruhwiler has accomplished something utterly remarkable in Out of the Gray Fog. She has captured - in beautiful, nuanced prose - a series of undiscovered connections between European and American intellectual life, and in doing so she has brought to life an unknown Ayn Rand, preoccupied not just with questions of political economy but of overcoming her Russian past while articulating a complex of ideas, stories and narratives intended for audiences in the United States, Europe, Russia and beyond. This original, path-breaking book is literary and intellectual history at its very best; it is an indispensable study of twentieth-century ideas.
Claudia Franziska Brühwiler attempts, largely successfully, to dispel some of the “Gray Fog” that hangs over the question of Ayn Rand’s roots and reception in Western Europe.... It is possible...that “Ayn Rand’s Europe” is pretty much like “Ayn Rand’s America,” in the sense that the same sorts of people on both sides of the Atlantic love and hate her books, and do so for largely similar reasons. Ayn Rand’s Europe does much to illuminate this dynamic. One hopes that future analyses will follow Brühwiler’s lead in looking at what Rand actually says and to whom that appeals, rather than trying to shoehorn Rand’s Objectivism into preexisting political categories, be those European or American.
Out of a Gray Fog is an interesting account of Ayn Rand the person, her works, and her reception among different groups and countries. It is full of fascinating details for anyone interested in Rand and classical liberal philosophy overall.