I’m often asked by people who are interested in The Soul of Atlas, “Do I need to read Atlas Shrugged before I read your book?”
The answer, I think, is “No.” But there’s a caveat. If you’re unfamiliar with Ayn Rand and you’re curious, I recommend her shorter work For the New Intellectual.
This is Ayn Rand‘s challenge to the prevalent philosophical doctrines of our time and the “atmosphere of guilt, of panic, of despair, of boredom, and of all-pervasive evasion” that they create. One of the most controversial figures on the intellectual scene, Ayn Rand was the proponent of a moral philosophy–and ethic of rational self-interest–that stands in sharp opposition to the ethics of altruism and self-sacrifice. The fundamentals of this morality–“a philosophy for living on Earth”–are here vibrantly set forth by the spokesman for a new class, For the New Intellectual.
Following the publication of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand transitioned to writing nonfiction philosophical works. The first book she published was For the New Intellectual, a collection of the philosophic speeches from her novels. The book begins with a lengthy essay in which Rand argues that America and Western civilization are in desperate need of a new philosophy and new intellectuals.
Rand viewed the book as a “cultural commercial” for her novels, which would stimulate sales of the newly released paperback editions of Atlas Shrugged and her first novel, We the Living. For the New Intellectual has sold over 1 million copies.