Ayn Rand Anticipated Emoticons :-)


I have been reading Letters of Ayn Rand, partly for research, partly for finding new quotations for The Ayn Rand Bot on Twitter.

On pp. 400-401, there is a letter from Rand to Archibald Ogden, the editor of Rand’s novel, The Fountainhead. In the letter she informs Ogden that the movie version of The Fountainhead is going into production, and then she chastises him for not writing her a letter:

Do you remember that you promised me a letter? But I said I would forgive you anything, and I shall always be running after you, if you want me to. (I ought to say that with a smile, but I don’t know how to convey a smile on paper.) Do let me hear from you, and if you want the details about our child’s screen incarnation, I will keep you informed. It’s going to be very exciting.

(Emphasis added.) Here is one of the few instances in which any 12-year-old child (maybe 8- or 10-year-old) living today could teach Ayn Rand something: “how to convey a smile on paper” — i.e., type a smile emoticon. Judging by the letter to Ogden, it seems she might have used emoticons in some of her correspondence, had she lived long enough.

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9 responses to “Ayn Rand Anticipated Emoticons :-)

  1. Luke Murphy

    Love the pic!

  2. MdB

    Trivia a propos of Archibald Ogden, I was a childhood friend of one of his nephews. At least in the ’60’s the legend in his family was that “Uncle Archie” had basically turned a hash of a manuscript into a fine product. AR must have been a quick learner, since her next work turned out pretty good, even without “Uncle Archie.”

  3. Daniel

    I think somewhere else in Letters of Ayn Rand–or maybe in her Journals–Ayn Rand uses a version of emoticons when writing to her husband, Frank. At the bottom are two cats crying, one of which represents her.

    This is going by memory; I haven’t read those books in many years. It may be worth checking out…

    • Yes, the drawings of the crying cats are in a letter to Frank O’Connor on pp. 36-37 of the letters book. But they weren’t used in the same way as emoticons would be: to add, make clear, or emphasize the emotion contained in a smaller unit (word, phrase, etc.) of informal writing. In the letter to Ogden, she wants to add the smile to just the one sentence of type.

      There is, in the letter to Frank, in addition to the crying cats at the end, a drawing of a small cat in parentheses, after the greeting, “Cubby Sweet!” But that seemed like her representation of Frank, again not an emoticon.

      Still, those drawings could be further evidence that Rand would have used emoticons in some circumstances.

      They are super cute, too. 🙂

      Sent from my iPhone

  4. T-shirts of Bosch Fawstin’s cute graphic now available here.

  5. Pingback: Ayn Rand Anticipated Emoticons « Michael Allen Sweet

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  7. Tarsha

    That’s so cute! I love those little opportunities to get to know her personality. Thanks for sharing!

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