NICHOLAS DYKES, FREE LIFE, no. 26 (FALL 1996)
The full text of the review appears here.
Dykes states that "Chris Matthew Sciabarra . . . has written a book which is, I am afraid, a bit of a curate's egg. Very substantial parts of AYN RAND: THE RUSSIAN RADICAL are excellent; the rest, alas, is rotten." Dykes compliments the author's scholarly tact, and his examination of the whole corpus of Objectivist literature. He commends Sciabarra's "(generally) clear understanding of Rand's ideas and his (usually) excellent presentation and discussion of them," and thinks "the good in his work outweighs the bad." Overall, the book "is a major piece of scholarship even if some of its interpretations fail." It is a book that "stimulates," says Dykes, even though it has its problems. For Dykes, Sciabarra uses a kind of jargon that is "tedious" at times. He criticizes Sciabarra's attempts to link Rand to the Russians, and to the dialectic tradition. He hypothesizes that Sciabarra's mentor, Bertell Ollman, may have influenced the author in his approach, sending "him off on a wild Marx chase" of "superficial parallels" in order to "deflect and defuse" his Randian tendencies.
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