Ayn Rand Trashes C.S. Lewis in Her Marginalia: He’s an “Abysmal Bastard”


Images via Wiki­me­dia Com­mons

The polit­i­cal inter­sec­tion of Ayn Ran­di­an lib­er­tar­i­ans and Evan­gel­i­cal con­ser­v­a­tives is a baf­fling phe­nom­e­non for most of us out­side the Amer­i­can right. It’s hard to rec­on­cile the athe­ist arch-cap­i­tal­ist and despis­er of social wel­fare with, for exam­ple, the Ser­mon on the Mount. But hey, mixed mar­riages often work out, right? Well, as for Rand her­self, one would hard­ly find her sym­pa­thet­ic to reli­gion or its expos­i­tors at any point in her career. Take her sound lash­ing of writer, schol­ar, and lay the­olo­gian C.S. Lewis, intel­lec­tu­al hero of Protes­tant Chris­tian­i­ty. (Wheaton Col­lege hous­es his per­son­al library, and there exists not only a C.S. Lewis Insti­tute, but also a C.S. Lewis Foun­da­tion.) Lewis’ The Abo­li­tion of Man (1943), while osten­si­bly a text on edu­ca­tion, also pur­ports, like Aquinas’ Sum­ma The­o­log­i­ca, to expound the prin­ci­ples of nat­ur­al law and objec­tive moral val­ue. Rand would have none of it.


Reli­gion jour­nal First Things brings us excerpts from the edit­ed col­lec­tion, Ayn Rand’s Mar­gin­a­lia: Her crit­i­cal com­ments on the writ­ings of over 20 authors. In it, Rand gloss­es Lewis’s Abo­li­tion of Man with sav­age feroc­i­ty, call­ing the author an “abysmal bas­tard,” “cheap, dri­v­el­ling non-enti­ty” [sic], and “abysmal scum!” The screen­shot above (Lewis left, Rand’s anno­ta­tions right) from the First Things’ blog post offers a typ­i­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tion of Rand’s tone through­out, and includes some par­tic­u­lar­ly elab­o­rate insults.


The C.S. Lewis Foun­da­tion com­ments that Lewis “prob­a­bly would not have approved of the lev­el of ven­om, but he prob­a­bly would not have liked Rand’s phi­los­o­phy much either.” Anoth­er Chris­t­ian aca­d­e­m­ic has suc­cess­ful­ly squared an appre­ci­a­tion for both Rand and Lewis, but writes crit­i­cal­ly of Rand, who “seems to have inter­pret­ed Lewis’s book as a Lud­dite screed against sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy,” part of her “ten­den­cy to car­i­ca­ture her oppo­nents.” Cer­tain­ly no one ever accused her of sub­tle­ty. “It’s pret­ty clear,” our pro­fes­sor con­tin­ues, “that when show­ing stu­dents how to engage in schol­ar­ly dis­course, Ayn Rand should not be the mod­el.” No, indeed, but how she would thrive on the Inter­net.

Read more at First Things, and down­load a PDF of the Rand-anno­tat­ed Lewis excerpts here.

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Free Audio: Down­load the Com­plete Chron­i­cles of Nar­nia by C.S. Lewis

The Only Known Record­ings of C.S. Lewis (1944–1948)

Watch Hand-Drawn Ani­ma­tions of 7 Sto­ries & Essays by C.S. Lewis

Flan­nery O’Connor: Friends Don’t Let Friends Read Ayn Rand (1960)

Josh Jones is a writer and musi­cian based in Durham, NC. Fol­low him at @jdmagness

by | Permalink | Comments (5) |

Sup­port Open Cul­ture

We’re hop­ing to rely on our loy­al read­ers rather than errat­ic ads. To sup­port Open Cul­ture’s edu­ca­tion­al mis­sion, please con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion. We accept Pay­Pal, Ven­mo (@openculture), Patre­on and Cryp­to! Please find all options here. We thank you!

Comments (5)
You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.
  • Bob Higgins says:

    Both of them were over­ly enthralled with the myths cre­at­ed in their own minds. Read­ing either is less pro­duc­tive than watch­ing one’s screen­saver.

  • Bob O. says:

    Rand was enthralled with myths? Incor­rect.

  • John Conolley says:

    Why con­fuse notes to her­self writ­ten in her pri­vate library with schol­ar­ly dis­course? That’s not dis­course. That’s vent­ing her emo­tions where she did­n’t expect to be read.

  • bubba says:

    “no indeed but how she would thrive on the inter­net”. bla­tant pro­jec­tion there mr. jones. fits u per­fect­ly. the arti­cle above is an ugly pic­ture of josh jones’ interests/psyche/vision. ugly stuff from an ugly lib­er­al intel­lec­tu­al.

  • mark taha says:

    When it comes to CSL, I’ll stick to Narnia.His con­ser­v­a­tive Chris­t­ian beliefs are obvi­ous but the sto­ries are fun.

Leave a Reply

Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.