Notes on The Romantic Manifesto: A Philosophy of Literature by Ayn Rand

Nice analyses of her own writing and other art


Her personal Manifesto about art with her reasoning behind it

Art (and nothing) outside province of reason

Rational aesthetics

Sense of life

Freedom and intellectual depth

Respect for man

Noble possibility in pre ww1 time

Studied what made romanticism possible and what killed it

Essays from her newsletter

Chapter 1: the psychoepistemology of art

Physical sciences still mostly governed by rationality

But humanities now governed by mysticism

Art has been powerful for all men and in all ages, often preceding language

Art does serve a purpose and does have a need but not a material one

Serves man's consciousness and required for its survival

Man is a conceptual being and organizes his thoughts into concepts

Retains concepts in language

Normative abstractions evaluate reality and prescribe a series of action

Cognitive abstractions deal with that which is

Normative abstractions deal with that which ought to be

Art allows man to summon up in one place all past history and experience and concepts

Art is subjective recreation of reality according to artist's metaphysical value judgments

Embodied abstraction

Projection of artists views

Art makes concepts into precepts

Characterizations in literature

Basic purpose not to teach but to show like example

Art not a means to giving a message or teaching morality

Sense of life is subconscious appraisal of man and his existence

What would Howard Roark do

2 philosophy and sense of life

Mans choices and value judgments over time form his sense of life and character

Mind programmer of emotional judgments

Those values that man deems important form his sense of life

Hard for adolescents to make transition from implicit value judgments to conscious philosophy

Culture doesn't help

2 main applications of sense of life: love and art

Love is a response to values

Love should be conscious integration of reason and emotion

3 art and sense of life

Art says this is what life means to me

Art gives fulfillment in confirming viewers view of existence

Subject of art Reveals the artists view of existence (metaphysics)

The style of the art reveals the artists view of consciousness (psychoepistemology)

Chosen subject indicates what artist considers important

4 art and cognition

Appeals to senses

Concretization of abstractions


Makes viewer say yes that is my sense of life

Music gives immediate emotion and brings thought I would feel this way if

Musical preferences change as world outlook changes

We don't understand how music goes straight from perception to emotion

Music allows man to reenact consciously the process Of converting sense data into concepts

Minor keys for less certainty

Need to analyze and understand to build up objective vocabulary and standard of music

Differences in music across cultures due to differences in philosophies

Integration is the key in music

Literature, drama, painting, music are art

Photography not because just technical skill and not selective recreation of reality

Decorative arts just purely sensory and seek harmony

Furniture, fashion are utilitarian and thus joy art since serve purpose besides just bringing attention to concepts

Modern art is about disintegration and decomposition which is about destroying the mind

5 basic principles of literature

Aristotle: fiction more important than history because history presents things as they are while fiction as they could and ought to be


Theme, plot, characterization, style


Sum of abstract ideas

Defines purpose of novel


Purposeful progression of events logically linked leading to a climax


Portrayal of essential traits that form each human beings

Show through action and dialogue not adjectives

Consistency required

No unintentional contradictions


Choice of content and words

Chapter 6 what is Romanticism

The type of art that recognizes that man has the power of volition

Naturalism denies it

If a man possesses volition then the crucial aspect of his life is his choice of values and must work purposefully over logical steps to achieve them

If Man does not possess volition then he is at the whim of forces beyond his control and does not need to choose values as they Are just an illusion

Thus cannot have plot

Romanticism came in 19th century from Aristotelianism and capitalism

Opposite was classicism and sticking to tradition

Romanticism brought back focus on values into art

Values yield positive emotions but romanticism not defined by emotion as usually claimed by critics

Characters are larger than life projections of essentials

All events and characters motivated by moral values

The destroyer of Romanticism was altruism

Father of naturalism was Shakespeare

Ch 7 The aesthetic vacuum of our age

Shift to naturalism

Focus on specific local individuals and copies of real people in art

Rather than abstractions of man's concepts and values

Presentations of lower classes and mediocrity instead of greatness

Art as barometer of culture

8 who killed romanticism

Analyses of James Bond films which don't do justice to books and destroy them

Self mockery

Thrillers demonstrate efficacy of man in fighting for values and overcoming obstacles

Chapter 9 art and moral treason

Romantic art offers children the vision of what man should be

Ch 10 intro to 93

Hugo greatest writer

Do not look for your neighbors next-door

Look for giants

Do not say life is not like that

Do not dismiss heroic gestures and beauty

93 new novel by Hugo

Background is French Revolution but theme is man's loyalty to his values

Chapter 11 the goal of my writing

Goal is portrayal of moral ideal

Portrayal of characters as an end in itself not for education of reader as main end

Glory of man

Chapter 12 the simplest thing in the world

Example story

Writer struggling to decide if should write about meaning

Tries to force mind to not think to get popular appeal


Hugo: Louis blanc; 93

Schiller: Don Carlos





Fritz Lang: Siegfried