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The Romantic Manifesto: A Philosophy of Literature; Revised Edition

3.73  ·  Rating Details ·  2,501 Ratings  ·  100 Reviews
In this beautifully written and brilliantly reasoned book, Ayn Rand throws a new light on the nature of art and its purpose in human life. Once again Miss Rand eloquently demonstrates her refusal to let popular catchwords and conventional ideas stand between her and the truth as she has discovered it. The Romantic Manifesto takes its place beside The Fountainhead as one of ...more
Paperback, 199 pages
Published October 1st 1971 by Signet (first published 1969)
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Sep 22, 2010 Michael rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, 1970s
With this one, Rand really jumped the shark for me.

I was willing to try her philosophical essays in The Virtue of Selfishness, and I read a couple of her novels as well. But, the zealous condemning of whole branches of art and literature, because it didn't fit with her idea of what art should do? Condemning Dostoyevski and embracing James Bond? Not that there's anything wrong with Ian Flemming, but still.

To make it clear what I'm arguing AGAINST, let me tell you the thesis Rand is arguing in th
Part IIII of multi-part review series.

Nutshell: person who has read a half dozen novels and no literary theory writes treatise on literary theory.

Opens with an dictionary definition of manifesto, regarding a declaration of intentions by an organization, then promptly states that this manifesto is “not issued in the name of an organization or movement. I speak only for myself” (v). The title is therefore revealed in the preface to be dishonest. We are accordingly off to a standard start in a Rand
Lisa (Harmonybites)
I know a lot of people sneer at Ayn Rand and her admirers. But one would think the one thing they'd acknowledge is that she was a writer who knew how to tell a story. *thinks of reviews she's seen.* OK, maybe not. But even if I'm not an uncritical devotee, I for one do love her style, do, with some reservations, love her novels. And I think the core of her argument here is absolutely true--you can't write fiction without revealing your philosophy and values--even if you try. Ayn Rand is the one ...more
Mar 01, 2009 BJ rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ayn Rand should be read by Christians and atheists alike. I wholeheartedly disagree with the end for which she writes--the glory of man--yet find inspiration in much of the means she uses to get there. She despised much of what was called art and literature in her own day, and thus wrote for the purpose of projecting "an ideal man" (162). She will not settle for the ordinary-ness of humanity. She wants to call people up to something great.

As a Christian, I resonate with this. Humanity is not or
May 28, 2013 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some of Rand's opinions about art I happen to disagree with, but overall her ROMANTIC MANIFESTO is, without a doubt, the most cohesive definition of "good art" that I've ever come across. At times, the fact that THE ROMANTIC MANIFESTO is actually a collection of essays which originally appeared in Rand’s newsletter, THE OBJECTIVIST, over a course of several years makes the book feel a little disjointed, but it certainly holds together a lot better than, say, Tolstoy's "WHAT IS ART?", which I rea ...more
Feb 11, 2016 Yogeeswar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There are two aspects of man’s existence which are the special province and expression of his sense of life: love and art.

Reading this book made me think and I was glad to realize that, I would support a Romantic over a Naturalist or a Classicist. Rand, for me is one of those authors, to whom I would nod yes to all of her opinions. It is her conscious reasoning that makes her the best. For example, her articulate ability to denounce photography as an art of any kind makes me angry and love her a
Matt Holmes
Aug 29, 2015 Matt Holmes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sweet Aynnie in full force. Not big into pulling punches, this one. I walked in expecting it to be a defense of actual Romanticism. In parts, it was, but most of it was a scathing critique of contemporary art and literature, working her way around to her favorite, constant implication: "Ya'll are inauthentic, and you sound like a bunch of pussies."

The first third of the book was spectacular. I was highlighting every other page or so. The second third of the book is a veneration of Victor Hugo so
My third most favorite book of Ms. Ayn Rand " The Romantic Manifesto"(Esthetics), it's the pillar of her foundation, and so was her Epistemology. Once, you read this book the way you look arts will change. Arts become meaningful especially of undestanding "Romanticism" and realize how arts relates the world around you.

Romanticism---is a category of art based on the recognition of the principle that man possesses the faculty of volition. It deals, not with the random trivia of the day, but with t
Aug 04, 2007 Kay rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Full disclosure -- I read a lot of Ayn Rand when I was about sixteen or seventeen. It's appealing at around that age. Now I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole! I'm giving it three stars (rather than one) for how I (apparently) felt about it back then.

The same applies to Thomas Wolfe, but I still retain a fondness for him even if I can't manage to get through any of his books anymore. Oh, and Hermann Hesse. I read a lot of Hesse, but the only one I was even remotely tempted to reread was The Gl
Only for die hard Ayn Rand fans.
Jan 14, 2017 Kishore rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish I could give this more than 5 stars - or just re-evaluate everything else I've read, such are the standards set by Ayn Rand.
The theme of the book is the importance of art in man's life, but to me it was more on the lines of "the meaning of life". There are several questions I have hopelessly grappled with throughout life, apart from these rare moments when an artist comes along all just makes sense, which for me is a profoundly rare and exultant feeling. Ayn Rand is one of those
Teri Anderson
Nov 03, 2013 Teri Anderson rated it really liked it
This is a collection of Ayn Rand essays regarding literature, philosophy and art, written at various times in her life. She defines Romanticism as "a category of art based on the recognition of the principle that man possesses the faculty of volition." Rand calls Romanticism "the greatest achievement of art history" and mourns its destruction. The other opposing broad artistic category she defines is Naturalism, which "denies the existence of man's volition."

Ponder these words by Rand:

It is imp
Deb Seksay
Nov 28, 2008 Deb Seksay rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Elitists, people incapable of logic. I want to watch your head explode i na cloud of logic.
Recommended to Deb by: Ruff
In a word, for me, phenomenal. A short book on what I love about art, music, and literature, and what I hate about most of the reading, art, and music that people recommend to me. I do not believe that my life is meant to be full of suffering: I've done that part already, and I'm watching people older than me letting life happen to them as opposed to engaging or participating therein. This is a handy little ho- to guide for identifying people that will violently object to morality or naming thei ...more
Aug 09, 2012 Bill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is probably may favorite of all of Ayn Rand's nonfiction works, because despite her rationality and intellectuality, she deals here with esthetics or art, and in my view the fundamental source of that is creativity itself, a process which she treats quite well from a disciplined intellectual perspective but whose source I think might remain unable to be pinned down by the intellect, much as the mind itself might remain ultimately non-graspable by the intellect. I came away from this book es ...more
Fun Fact for the folks at home: Ayn Rand was never wrong.
Not even once.
That book she disliked at seven years old? Clearly an early, unconscious value-judgment based on her burgeoning worldview. She dislikes it to this day.

Also, who quotes their own books? Who does that? She'll just pop in a passage from "Atlas Shrugged," no big deal, everyone does that, amirite?

But anyway. I kind of like Ayn Rand. Is she a bad person? Maybe. Is her philosophy missing a few key points? Hella yes. Is Object
Dec 10, 2008 zikafus rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ayn may have the most rational philosophical basis of thought to ever grace mankind. Her perspective on psycho-epistemology opens worlds of understanding the judgment and action of man.
As I read The Romantic Manifesto all I can think is- "there is no convincing enough argument to promote the grandeur of this book... nothing I could say to others could portray the urgency I feel for them to read this book..."
The description on the back of the book describes "The Romantic Manifesto" as " of
Mar 22, 2016 Mirela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Portrayal of art unlike any other. Just as always, clear, purposeful, eloquence that brings light to most complex things in life.
Yuni Amir
Dec 22, 2016 Yuni Amir rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
TLDR: her philosophy is about appreciating premises that sculpture an ideal Man. This encompasses of understanding ourselves and where we are. It is a beautiful read.
Alex Lee
Sep 17, 2015 Alex Lee rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, philosophy
This book more clearly explains Ayn Rand's position than any other book of hers I've read in the past.

Rand is often hotly contested; but it's not enough to say that something nonsensical or stupid because to truly understand something we should be able to explain what it is or why something is dismissed. Not only that but we should also be able to explain how a view is (in)valid. In a sense, Rand often fails to explain what is detestable in others, resorting to words like "evil" or "irrational"
Dec 31, 2016 Deborah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book includes one of my favorite of Ayn Rand's essays, "Art and Cognition." So fascinating.
Brent McCulley
Nov 29, 2013 Brent McCulley rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
Rand's esthetic ideals were never kept under wraps, indeed, they were overtly plain for every to see. In spite of this, with her Romantic Manifesto Rand has written a new declaration proclaiming her specific intentions on art and literature derived from her philosophical inclinations.

Rand's view on mankind is simple: Man is an end in himself, and not a means to a great end. It is for that reason why Rand's aestheticism is chiefly rooted in the fundamental obligation to glorify the greatness of m
Maurice Cordero
While I reserve a pinch of skepticism on Rand's classification of what's good art and what is not, this collection of essays forms part of my formative phase in understanding art in general and the creative processes involved.

Keeping in mind that these essays were written generations before my time, instead of disagreeing in some parts of what she stands for (i.e. photography is not art), I look at them as an abstraction on both creation and appreciation of art. After all, art is a reflection of
OsamaAziz Khan
The Fountainhead and The Atlas Shrugged were important introductions to Rand's Objectivism and Romanticism for me. They were two big and important books during my teenage n early twenties. In retrospect, perhaps its idea of 'virtue in selfishness' and 'ego-massaging' properties are some of the possible explanations for my Randian infatuation. These two generally lead most of us to explore the whole Randian canon, where one gets acquainted 'nonfictionally' with Rand's philosophy . However it is ...more
Bill FromPA
Though subtitled “A Philosophy of Literature”, this short book considers all the arts except architecture (“I shall not include architecture in this discussion – I assume the reader knows which book I will refer him to.“). Rand states that it is possible to admire the aesthetic excellence in a work of art, while not personally liking the artwork, because the “sense of life” of the artist differs from the viewer’s “sense of life”. She admires the style of Vermeer immensely, but does not care at a ...more
Scott Forbes
Apr 05, 2013 Scott Forbes rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is my favorite book, with the possible exception of Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil. It is Ayn Rand's esthetics book. It is extremely lucid and direct. There are no questions as to where Ayn Rand stands. She is brilliant and at times very poetic. She interrupts your life to give out a free course in how to think like an artist or philosopher concerning not beauty or art proper, but why there has been a decline and her solution. She prescribes, as is standard with Rand, objectivism. In my l ...more
Robert Vlach
Sep 13, 2016 Robert Vlach rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kniha řízných esejů s podtitulem A Philosophy of Literature (Filozofie literatury) svou autorku nezapře. Ayn Rand psala o filozofii pro život na Zemi, známé jako objektivismus či realistický romantismus. Vtěchto textech se zaměřila konkrétně na obhajobu racionálního aselektivního přístupu k umělecké tvorbě, zejména s ohledem na formativní přínos. Umění zpočátku definuje jako dílo, které je nejvyšším cílem samo o sobě. Dále však tuto myšlenku rozvádí mnohem hlouběji a vedle románu přidává další f ...more
Don Geronimo
Jul 06, 2009 Don Geronimo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Romantic Manifesto is a collection of Ayn Rand's essays and works regarding the state of art for the objectivist man. That said, there is a lot of repeated statements in each statement because it is a collection of her works. At many times it will seem like she is repeating herself. That's because she is. Another warning is the book is extremely Western-centric, ignoring various ethnocultural views of art and art's purpose in one's culture.

The world is full of the mundane and appreciates the
Oct 22, 2010 Jordan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed-books
Another serving of Ayn Rand's genius, her treatise on the philosophy of art forced me to think about art in ways I had not before. It asked me to define what art is--what it does. Like Francis Schaefer, Rand sees the connection between the art a culture produces and that culture's philosophical outlook. Rand is concerned with ethics and how art reveals one's view of humankind (a high view or a low view). Her premise is found in her (apt, I believe) definition of art as "a selective re-creation o ...more
Carrie Andersen
The Romantic Manifesto, by Ayn Rand,is a philosophy about how art affects life. This book was published in 1971, January 1. Ayn Rand wrote many books, all philosophical and all were successful sellers.
In The Romantic Manifesto, Rand writes about how she believes that art comes from within every human being, and that it has a great influence on us. In the book, she often talks about how people today don't realize and forget how important art can be to us and how it affects our lives so much. Sh
Swapnil Tembe
At the outset itself, I want to say, it's a difficult read. But great things do not come to you so easy. Do not take this rendition as a continuation to what you read in her other two epics. This isn't a novel. A revelation of sorts. It talks about what art is, all forms, what is the right way to come up with such artistic strokes, what is the purpose of it all. All this dipped in the shades of Romanticism. You may feel the urge to quit in between, but I would ask you to take a leap of faith and ...more
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Alisa Rosenbaum was born in pre-revolutionary St. Petersburg to a prosperous Jewish family. When the Bolsheviks requisitioned the pharmacy owned by her father, Fronz, the Rosenbaums fled to the Crimea. Alisa returned to the city (renamed Leningrad) to attend the university, but in 1926 relatives who had already settled in America offered her the chance of joining them there. With money from the sa ...more
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“The pursuit of truth is not important. The pursuit of that truth is important which helps you in reaching your goal that is provided you have one.” 7 likes
“Hence the sterile, uninspiring futility of a great many theoretical discussions of ethics, and the resentment which many people feel towards such discussions: moral principles remain in their minds as floating abstractions, offering them a goal they cannot grasp and demanding that they reshape their souls in its image, thus leaving them with a burden of undefinable moral guilt.” 6 likes
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