Let us concretize the above theory by focusing on a specific school of art, Romanticism; and, within it, on a specific art, literature. Out of all the possibilities, I choose Romanticism because it is, in Ayn Rand’s view, “the greatest achievement in art.”26 I choose literature because it is relatively easy to discuss in objective terms, and, above all, because Ayn Rand was concerned as an esthetician predominantly with her own field, the novel.
“Romanticism” denotes an art movement dating from the early nineteenth century; among its greatest writers are Victor Hugo, Dostoyevsky, Friedrich Schiller, and Edmond Rostand. This movement must not be confused with what is called “Romanticism” in philosophy, i.e., the Fichte-Schelling-Schopenhauer brand of mysticism. Judged by essentials, Ayn Rand holds, these two movements are opposites.27
The most obvious characteristic of Romanticism, which many critics take as definitional, is …
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