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10/22/2005

Ayn Rand in CHINA

          The Fountainhead in Chinese Translation

Roark Ayn Rand's more tolerable tome, The Fountainhead, hits Chinese bookstores in November. 700 pages, 800,000 characters, the story of Howard Roark's individualist triumph over the forces of collectivism will arrive in cities whose architecture he would probably have had difficulty preventing himself from dynamiting.

Why is The Fountainhead getting translated? Numbers, for one thing. Most early reviews note Rand's vast audience, with Atlas Shrugged selling second only to the Bible. It's certainly not because of any literary value. The Beijing News, in a review casting it as a work of utopian fiction, calls it "long, dull, and unbalanced, with no sense of rhythm," but says that as a work of philosophy, "we really shouldn't use the standards of literature to evaluate it."

Reviewer Shi Tao pinpoints why this book might appeal to today's Chinese readers:

In Rand's view, you need not abase yourself to pursue wealth, but you should be ashamed of yourself if you lack creativity. The IT elite who came along later highly praised this ideal.

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The Fountainhead in Chinese Translation

by Joel Martinsen

Ayn Rand's more tolerable tome, The Fountainhead, hits Chinese bookstores in November. 700 pages, 800,000 characters, the story of Howard Roark's individualist triumph over the forces of collectivism will arrive in cities whose architecture he would probably have had difficulty preventing himself from dynamiting.

Why is The Fountainhead getting translated? Numbers, for one thing. Most early reviews note Rand's vast audience, with Atlas Shrugged selling second only to the Bible. It's certainly not because of any literary value. The Beijing News, in a review casting it as a work of utopian fiction, calls it "long, dull, and unbalanced, with no sense of rhythm," but says that as a work of philosophy, "we really shouldn't use the standards of literature to evaluate it."

Writing in The Economic Observer Review of Books, reviewer Shi Tao pinpoints why this book might appeal to today's Chinese readers:

In Rand's view, you need not abase yourself to pursue wealth, but you should be ashamed of yourself if you lack creativity. The IT elite who came along later highly praised this ideal.

Or it could just be that the "virtue of selfishness" is just the philosophy China's rich need to explain away such unpleasantries as the wealth gap and social duties.

While this is the first novel to be translated, Rand's theories have been available in China for a decade. In 1993, her A New Concept of Egoism was published. But it was only last year, with the publication of The Ayn Rand Column (translated as The Only Road to Tomorrow), that she really broke out. Earlier this year, Rand's For the New Intellectual and The Voice of Reason were published in translation.

DANWEI

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Comments

Fountainhead more tolerable? Surely you jest. I could not get past the first hundred in Fountainhead.

Atlas Shrugged should be required reading for high school diploma.

From Ayn Rand's mouth:

My philosophy, Objectivism, holds that:

1. Reality exists as an objective absolute—facts are facts, independent of man's feelings, wishes, hopes or fears.

2. Reason (the faculty which identifies and integrates the material provided by man's senses) is man's only means of perceiving reality, his only source of knowledge, his only guide to action, and his basic means of survival.

3. Man—every man—is an end in himself, not the means to the ends of others. He must exist for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself. The pursuit of his own rational self-interest and of his own happiness is the highest moral purpose of his life.

4. The ideal political-economic system is laissez-faire capitalism. It is a system where men deal with one another, not as victims and executioners, nor as masters and slaves, but as traders, by free, voluntary exchange to mutual benefit. It is a system where no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force, and no man may initiate the use of physical force against others. The government acts only as a policeman that protects man's rights; it uses physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use, such as criminals or foreign invaders. In a system of full capitalism, there should be (but, historically, has not yet been) a complete separation of state and economics, in the same way and for the same reasons as the separation of state and church.

>Or it could just be that the "virtue of selfishness" is just the philosophy China's rich need to explain away such unpleasantries as the wealth gap and social duties.<

What an utterly profound statement. Too bad when those millions in China's lower-class learn of this philosophy and shrug that atlas of poverty off their shoulders. Might scare the rich, you know, when they begin to rise of their own power.

China's idea of 'social duties'? Typical communist view. In America we don't see our social obligations as 'duties'. We see it as a fact of life. For those who don't, the government makes it a fact of our life. Either way, few in our land of liberty begrudge helping out the poor or the needy. This is the fine line where economics and government systems becomes a chasm of such divisiveness that in some countries the poor starve and in other countries, the poor thrive and have the option to become 'unpoor'.

This is not written by anyone who has read and understands Ayn Rand's ideas. It is frustrating. But where do I go to buy these publications?

You can use the Amazon link in the left sidebar.

Search Amazon for Ayn Rand.

"Or it could just be that the "virtue of selfishness" is just the philosophy China's rich need to explain away such unpleasantries as the wealth gap and social duties."

Never mind, of course, that the so-called wealth gap has been made smaller by capitalism, not larger. Politicians benefit more from keeping the poor dependent than businessmen. God forbid a little "can-do" attitude (as opposed to social slavery) be injected into a nation's bank of ideas. As for China's rich, if they have become wealthy and are staying so by their own efforts (rather than from government bailouts like in some countries *cough, cough*), then they have every right to be proud of their wealth. If not, then their very real theft is quite different from the "greed" of laissez-faire capitalists.

No greater tool exists for the poor in China or anywhere else than the revelation that their destiny and success lie in their own hands, not in the hands of their government, their employer, or their rich neighbors. The communist and traditional culture of China will make this a tough sell, but hopefully the idea of self-liberation will catch on.

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