"My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute..."
FIRST EDITION OF RAND’S MASTERPIECE; AN IMPORTANT ASSOCIATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY RAND TO HER LITERARY AGENT ANN WATKINS.
Inscribed in ink on the front free endpaper: “To Ann Watkins - / - Cordially - / Ayn Rand / 12/21/61”.
Ann Watkins was Rand’s literary agent during her long search for a publisher for The Fountainhead. Initially Watkins was enthusiastic about the quality of The Fountainhead and the prospects for publication, but “after rejection by eight publishers, Watkins's evaluation of the novel had changed, and she began to tell Rand what was wrong with it. Watkins thought the central character (Howard Roark) was 'unsympathetic.' Rand obviously disagreed... [and] after Rand dispensed with specific objections, Watkins explained that she could not give reasons for not liking the book; it was just her 'feelings.' Rand never simply let a comment like that go by, and the result was the end of their business relationship with respect to The Fountainhead."
As Rand explained in her impassioned letter dismissing Watkins as her agent:
”When I asked you whether you wished to continue with the novel, you told me you did not. You said that you did not want to handle the novel further because I made it impossible for you to sell it. When I asked 'Why?' you answered -- here are your exact words, Ann, I remember them because they made a deep impression on me and I'll remember them all my life -- 'Why? Why? You always ask me why. I can't answer you. I don't go by reasons, I act upon instinct.' That, Ann, was the epitaph on our relations. There was nothing I could say after that. Words are an instrument of reason and instincts are unanswerable…” (Robert Mayhew, Essays on Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead).
The Fountainhead went on to become a best-seller, and it is interesting to imagine the thoughts Rand had in inscribing this copy of the first edition of her next novel, Atlas Shrugged, to the agent who had lost faith in her work.
New York: Random House, 1957. Thick octavo, original green cloth, original dust jacket; custom half-morocco box. Book near-fine, dust jacket with light edgewear and a little toning to spine. A fascinating and historically important association copy.
Price: $17,500 .