The Romantic Manifesto


The Romantic Manifesto

"The Romantic Manifesto: A Philosophy of Literature" is a non-fiction work by Ayn Rand, a collection of essays regarding the nature of art. It was first published in 1969, with a second, revised edition published in 1975. Most of the essays originally appeared in "The Objectivist", except for the "Introduction to Ninety-Three", which was an introduction for an edition of the Victor Hugo novel. The revised edition added the essay "Art and Cognition".

At the base of her argument, Rand asserts that one cannot create art without infusing a given work with one's own value judgments and personal philosophy. Even if the artist attempts to withhold moral overtones, the work becomes tinged with a deterministic or naturalistic message. The next logical step of Rand's argument is that the audience of any particular work cannot help but come away with some sense of a philosophical message, colored by his or her own personal values, ingrained into their psyche by whatever degree of emotional impact the work holds for them.

Rand goes on to divide artistic endeavors into "valid" and "invalid" forms. (Photography, for example, is invalid to her (qua art form) because a camera merely records the world exactly as it is and has very limited, if any, capacity to carry a moral message beyond the photographer's choice of subject matter.) Art, to her, should always strive to elevate and idealize the human spirit. She specifically attacks Naturalism and Modernism in art, while upholding Romanticism (in the artistic sense, not in terms of general philosophy).

The book ends with a short story entitled "The Simplest Thing in the World".


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