Kirsti Minsaas provides a short review of Erika Holzer's Ayn Rand: My Fiction Writing Teacher. In the course of her review, Minsaas indulges in a short discussion of Holzer's and Rand's "shared interest in larger-than-life heroes." Minsaas, as far as I can tell, shares Holzer's perspective about the "objective" need for "romantic heroes," and even goes so far as to describe the type of hero projected in Rand's novels as "sophisticated." So here we have three women--Rand, Holzer, and Minsaas--all expressing sympathy for "larger-than-life" heroes of the Randian variety. Could it be that Randian heroism is a product of peculiar sort of female sentimentalism? I personally don't see anything heroic in Rand's heroes. They are not even gentlemen, as no gentlemen would go around raping women (even when the women want it), dynamiting newly completed housing projects, engaging in piracy and petulant economic sabotage, and spouting self-righteous ideological rhetoric. The Randian hero is an ideologue par excellence, which is another way of saying that he is a man without any real sense of honor.
Minsaas' review also touches upon an even less agreeable subject: Rand's "sense of life" construct, which constitutes one of Rand's very worst theories. Great literature seeks to illuminate the perplexities of the human condition. In the pursuit of this end, literature must sometimes grapple with the tragic side of existence--that is to say, it must cover such things as sickness, pain, infidelity, death, and evil. Rand's excessively secular and rationalist view of life caused her to shrink from such subjects, because her philosophy had no answers to the problems they raised. So she created an elaborate rationalization in order to dismiss novels that raised just the sort of difficult issues which demonstrate the poverty of her philosophy. She argued that the very fact that an author chooses a tragical subject is proof positive that he considers the subject of paramount importance. If an author like Tolstoy writes a novella about death (e.g., The Death of Ivan Illyich), this proves that Tolstoy believes that death is the most significant thing of all, more significant, even then life, which, Rand would argue, proves that Tolstoy has a "malevolent sense of life." But here Rand, as usual, misses the point altogether. The The Death of Ivan Illyich is not a glorification of death, but merely a mediation about death, giving Tolstoy's thoughts about the subject. Whether death is "metaphysically significant" or not, it's clearly an important subject; so why shouldn't a novelist, especially one as great as Tolstoy, provide his take on it? By dismissing the lion's share of great literature as "malevolent," Rand merely encourages her followers to remain ignorant of the some of the best that has been said and thought about the great issues confronting human beings.