Paul Marks wrote:
As I understand it (correct me if I am mistaken) the most important thing for an Objectivist is their work. So I hope that this gentleman achieved things of value in his work, and was able to work up to the conclusion of his life.
Nathaniel Branden, I believe, did keep working at least up until very recently.
There was a BookNotes interview of Dr. Branden done by Brian Lamb in 1989, occasioned by the publishing of his memoir Judgment Day, very interesting. A little over an hour, IIRC. This was the first of two books he wrote about his breakup with Ayn Rand, when he was still pretty angry. Later he wrote another, The Vision of Ayn Rand: The Basic Principles of Objectivism, which consists primarily of his “Basic Principles of Objectivism” series that were issued by NBI as an audio-taped course for students of Objectivism. I was a member of a club of students of Objectivism around 1970; we rented the tapes and heard the lectures ourselves. I had some problems with it then, and still do.
However, the book contains more than just transcripts of the audio series. There is a review of it by Ted Keer (who may not understand the meaning of the word “apologia,” SNARK), including its table of contents, which is worth reading, I think, if one is interested in the course or in the Brandens and Miss Rand as the major dramatis personae of the original Objectivist movement.
Nathaniel Branden’s C-Span interview can be seen at C-Span or here:
As an aside, his first wife, Barbara Branden, wrote a biography of Miss Rand which I think is well worth reading, sympathetic to its subject, and honest, despite a few speculations and minor apparent errors: The Passion of Ayn Rand. I never met Mrs. Branden, except through her writings and appearances on UT, but she seems to me to have been a thoroughly nice person. (Her book invoked howls and excoriations from ARI’s True Believers, as it was not an unrelieved paean to She.) She died in Los Angeles on Wednesday, December 11, 2013. She was 84.
Interestingly enough, von Mises Institute published a piece by Barbara Branden on “Atlas Shrugged at 50,” which originally appeared in its Journal of Libertarian Studies, You can hear it read by Floy Lilley (~ 18 min.) at
or read it, or download the mp3 recording.
Finally (at least for now!), here is a UT of Dr. Branden speaking at Cato on “Self-Esteem and Libertarianism.”
There is a great deal more by both Brandens on UT.
The best interview of Ayn Rand that I have ever seen was conducted by Tom Snyder. She was happy, gay, in a thoroughly rare mood that day. A joy to see.
I may as well admit that unlike many, I’m not much of a fan of The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem nor of The Disowned Self. If anybody cares. And Dr. B. himself came to believe that in his early years he was not always entirely 100% correct. This went some way to rehabilitating him in my sight.
And yet again, people’s ideas and perceptions and responses and evaluations do change at least to some extent as we go along. Perhaps if I read those books today I would respond differently. At the time I felt I was being beaten with a blunt object composed largely of complete misunderstandings of the realities–although I wanted to be 100% enthralled with them. Well, the good Doctor WAS authoritarian and no mistake. This fact has been noted by others as well as yours truly.
Nevertheless, I am very glad that I was fortunate enough to share the temporal span of Miss Rand, both Brandens, and the birth and subsequent life (through the present, that is) of her novels and of Objectivism.
I like what Simon wrote — particularly the part about N.B.’s becoming a nicer person.
My own opinion began its upward revision when I first read “The Hazards and Benefits of Objectivism.”. I did actually meet the man, in January or February of 1978, when I took one of his “Intensive” “seminars.” It left me infuriated and in a tizzy and lowered my opinion of myself by several percentage points and of him, several thousand. In his defense: I think it was not too long after his second wife, Patrecia, was drowned. (But his next wife, Devers, was there as his assistant.)
As for The Affair, I’ve often thought that happened because A.R. confused herself with a character in an Ayn Rand novel. (As well, no doubt, as being attracted to Nathaniel … and perhaps missing, at the time, a sense of romance in her marriage, and just generally the stuff that most of us go through.) This happens to writers, I believe. It is said that Dorothy L Sayers was in love with Lord Peter, which I find quite believable. And one female novelist, fortunately well-loved by and happy with her family, one evening sat down to dinner with the husband & kiddies while hard at work on her latest, and started complaining up one side and down the other how she “had to do everything” and “nobody appreciates me” and…. She said her family looked at her awestruck. Finally one of her daughters — a teenager I think — said, “But Mom, you’re not talking about YOURSELF, are you.” She said she was startled to realize what she’d been saying, and that the girl was absolutely right.
Just to round things out, I think people might find George H. Smith’s 1990 piece on Nathaniel Branden interesting. It’s entitled ” Nathaniel Branden’s Judgment Day: Reviewing the Reviewers,” and in it Mr. Smith praises N.B. highly. He also hands Murray Rothbard a couple good ones right in the chops, literarily speaking of course. (Mr. Smith is another who seems not to suffer gladly those who annoy him.)
The relationships, erstwhile friendships, and antagonisms among libertarians is wondrous to behold.