I just came across this essay in The Nation by one Corey Robin about Ayn Rand.
I think Robin is serious, but the piece works best as a satire of a certain type of right-wing hit piece on left-wing intellectuals.
Mocking the subject because she has many Hollywood devotees who don’t seem that bright? Check!
Suggesting that the subject’s personal idiosyncracies discredit her intellectual contributions? Check!
Finding a random Hitler quote that sounds like something the subject might say, to suggest that the subject, despite her strong antifascism, was really a fascist? Check!
Ridiculing the subject for not appreciating how the country she grew up in gave her the opportunity to thrive, which she then used to attack the country’s political system? Check! (Though this is the first time I’ve heard someone suggest that an intellectual should be grateful for growing up in the USSR. Among other things, Rand apparently should have been grateful to the Bolsheviks for “subsidizing theater for the masses.” Yet, I really don’t think this is meant to be a satire.)
An obscure academic dismissing one of the twentieth century’s most influential writers as a “mediocrity,” without any indication that the author really understands his subject’s appeal. Check!