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The Rewriting of Ayn Rand’s Spoken Answers
by Robert L. Campbell
From The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 2011 Issue 1

Robert Campbell , Ph.D., is a Professor in the Psychology Department at Clemson University.  He has been there since the summer of 1991; before that, he spent five and a half years at the IBM Research Division in Hawthorne, New York.  At IBM, Robert was a Human Factors specialist; at Clemson he specializes in Developmental and Cognitive Psychology.

I. Ayn Rand Answers (2005) is an edited book derived from Rand’s spoken answers to questions.
A. It’s the fifth in a series of six edited volumes of previously
unpublished material.
B. It’s the second among these edited by Mayhew (after
The Art of Non-Fiction.)

II. The original spoken questions and answers are available for more than half of the items in Ayn Rand Answers.
A. Therefore, much of Mayhew’s editing can be checked without getting past the gatekeepers at the Ayn Rand Archives.
B. I checked the originals for 201 out of the 370 items included in the Mayhew book.
C. I checked 92 additional answers that Mayhew chose not to include.

III. Items left out of Ayn Rand Answers.
A. Mayhew provided no reasons for leaving anything out.
B. A few omitted answers are genuinely uninteresting.
C. Mayhew used just one of several answers about her uncompleted writing projects.
D. He used no answers about the filming of Atlas Shrugged or about the departure of Nathaniel Branden.
E. He left off a number of answers about topics of genuine interest (the Pentagon Papers, Martin Anderson,
Thomas Szasz.)
F. He left out a few politically sensitive answers (homosexuality, the morality of taking amphetamines.)

IV. How Mayhew edited the items he kept.
A. “Most of the editing I did consisted of cutting and line-editing to bring the material closer to the level of conciseness, clarity, and smoothness appropriate to a written work.  Very little had to be cut owing to repetition.”
B. In fact, he rewrote virtually every answer, except for a very few that Rand had edited herself.  He didn’t tell his readers which ones Rand had edited.
C. Mayhew sometimes divided multi-section answers into separate items, providing new questions when necessary.
D. He rearranged parts of an answer internally.
E. He abridged many of her early 1960’s answers (when she tended to talk faster and produce longer responses) so they would read more like her later answers.
F. He corrected an occasional slip of the tongue without announcing this to his readers.
G. He put words into Rand’s mouth that she didn’t use on the occasion (“referent”) or that she never used (“the agent”, “the latter”, “owing to”.)
H. He or his transcriber (Mayhew does not say who transcribed the original recordings) occasionally mistranscribed her words (“red” for “wrecked”, “experimental whim” for “experimenter’s whim”.)

V. Mayhew somtines edited for philosophical correctness.
A. “Dr. Peikoff also wanted to limit [the book’s] contents to those Q&A that he knew to be consistent with her explicit philosophy, and in some cases to have then edited accordingly.  I made this clear in my preface; I did not hide the fact that such editing was done.”
B. Ayn Rand Answers does not say when, why, or at whose request such editing was done.
C. Mayhew removed references or allusions to persons who had fallen out of favor (Nathaniel Branden, Allan Blumenthal, Beatrice Hessen.)
D. He removed issues or rhetoric apparently considered embarrassing (the effects of cigarette smoking on health, her equation of anarchism with communism, her favorite TV shows.)

VI. How Rand should be edited.
A. Mayhew imagines that he can edit Rand’s spoken words the way she would have.
B. She neither needed Mayhew’s help nor benefits from it.
C. Proper editing would eliminate the false starts and the hesitation pauses without notifying the reader.
D. It would correct grammer while notifying the reader.
E. It would correct slips of the tongue and obvious misspeaking while footnoting them.

VII. What should happen to the book?
A. The Estate of Ayn Rand should withdraw Mayhew’s book.
B. A more comprehensive, lightly edited book should replace it.
Such a book would be of much greater value to both the specialist and the general reader.

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