Ayn Rand’s complicated notoriety as popular writer, leader of a political and philosophical cult, reviled intellectual, and ostentatious public figure endured beyond her death in 1982. In the twenty-first century, she has been resurrected as a serious reference point for mainstream figures, especially those on the political right from Paul Ryan to Donald Trump. Mean Girl follows Rand’s trail through the twentieth century from the Russian Revolution to the Cold War and traces her posthumous appeal and the influence of her novels via her cruel, surly, sexy heroes. Outlining the impact of Rand’s philosophy of selfishness, Mean Girl illuminates the Randian shape of our neoliberal, contemporary culture of greed and the dilemmas we face in our political present.
About the Author
Lisa Duggan is a historian, journalist, activist, and Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University. She is the author of The Twilight of Equality? Neoliberalism, Cultural Politics, and the Attack on Democracy.
“Lisa Duggan gets it exactly right . . . when she writes that Rand's ‘particular gift was not for philosophical elaboration, but for stark condensation and aphorism. She deployed this gift to create a moral economy of inequality to infuse her softly pornographic romance fiction with the political eros that would captivate a mass readership.’" — Times Higher Education
"Provides an explanation for our current cultural and political moment. . . . Duggan’s book sums up Rand’s life and philosophy in under ninety pages." — Masha Gessen
"[Duggan] is sharp, engaging, and funny when writing about Rand, whose magnetism, determination, grandiosity, desperation, and galloping narcissism Duggan captures beautifully."