Letters and Replies, Spring 2008 - The Objective Standard

To the Editor:

Although I thoroughly enjoyed Andrew Bernstein’s article “Transfiguring the Novel: The Literary Revolution in Atlas Shrugged” (TOS, Fall 2007), I am puzzled by his statement that “Francisco d’Anconia . . . is the man [whom] many . . .
—including this writer—believe Dagny [Taggart] should have chosen as her husband.” (p. 64) I find this remark baffling given that much of the article is dedicated to discussing the novel’s unprecedented literary integration. However much we may like Francisco, admire his intelligence and strength of character, and even empathize with his suffering at having lost Dagny, there is no question that John Galt was the man whom Dagny had to choose as her husband. It was Galt, the ideal man of unparalleled intellect, who started the strike, who brought the world to a halt, and who defeated Dagny, the strike’s greatest adversary. For Dagny to have chosen someone other than Galt would have undercut the novel’s theme—the role of the mind in man’s existence—by disintegrating its plot.

I am interested to hear why Dr. Bernstein believes that Dagny should have chosen Francisco over Galt.

Robb LeChevalier
Golden, Colorado

Andrew Bernstein replies:

Robb LeChevalier is absolutely correct in his assessment. For Atlas Shrugged to have remained fully integrated to its theme required that Dagny choose Galt; the entire novel would have suffered had she chosen otherwise. My remark was merely an expression of my preference for Francisco, despite Galt’s clear intellectual superiority.

There are at least two reasons why readers might choose Francisco as their favorite character while still admiring the peerless Galt. An obvious reason is that, because of the novel’s revolutionary plot structure, its hero—Galt—remains behind the scenes for a full two-thirds of the story, unobserved by the reader. Francisco, on the other hand, is front-and-center through some of the novel’s most compelling scenes, including his first meeting with Hank Rearden, his “sex” and “money” speeches, and his joint combat with Rearden of a furnace breakout at one of the industrialist’s steel mills. Because Francisco’s character is more fully developed than Galt’s, the reader gets to know him better and thus may feel a stronger affinity toward him. . . .

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