The Commercial & Financial Chronicle was a weekly business newspaper, founded in 1865 and modeled on The Economist. Never nearing the circulation of the Wall Street Journal, it ceased operation in 1987.
This letter was previously published only on the Ayn Rand Institute website.
36 East 36th St.
New York 16, N.Y.
May 26, 1961
The Commercial and Financial Chronicle
25 Park Place
New York 7, N.Y.
In the May 4, 1961, issue of The Commercial and Financial Chronicle, there appeared a review, by Mr. John Dutton, of my book FOR THE NEW INTELLECTUAL: THE PHILOSOPHY OF AYN RAND. I wish to register my emphatic objection to Mr. Dutton’s literary procedure which I find incomprehensible: for some reason or motive unknown to me, about half of the review consists of statements attributed to me and presented in quotation marks, statements which I have never made and which are not contained in my book nor in anything else I have ever written.
The review consists of three columns of print. In paragraph 3, column 1, Mr. Dutton quotes a passage which, except for minor misprints, does come from my book FOR THE NEW INTELLECTUAL. In the next paragraph, Mr. Dutton takes parts of sentences which appear in different parts of my book, but which he puts together, without the customary dots or ellipsis, into a single, embarrassingly unintelligible passage.
Thereafter, all the passages purporting to be quotations from my book do not contain a single sentence written by me (paragraphs 2,3,4,5 of column 2, and paragraphs 1,2 of column 3) and do not correspond to anything in my book. These passages are not condensations or paraphrases, they are Mr. Dutton’s own editorializing improvisations on political themes, never seen by me before, yet presented in quotation marks. And the intention to pass them off as my words is emphasized by such inserts as “And Ayn Rand asks:” followed by long paragraphs that are not mine and that bear no resemblance to any writing, language or thought-sequence of mine.
I must state that the appallingly superficial, journalistic character of the ideas which Mr. Dutton attributes to me has no place in a book on philosophy and that my book does not deal with journalistic topics and is not written in journalistic terms. Some of those allegedly quoted passages contain Mr. Dutton’s own applications of my abstract ideas to current events, and some contain the exact opposite of my ideas. What I am primarily concerned with is the fact that Mr. Dutton has permitted himself to paste my name or, in effect, my signature, on his own writing, without my knowledge and permission (a permission I would never grant to anyone) and that his writing is far below the standard I have set for myself.
Since I have always maintained that ideas must be treated with the same scrupulous precision as financial matters or legal documents, and since I take an enormous amount of time, effort and thought on the formulation of my ideas, Mr. Dutton’s action is extremely embarrassing to me and damaging to my professional reputation. In as much as your newspaper is known for its accuracy and reliability, I feel certain that you will want to correct a misrepresentation of that kind.
I wish to state, for the record, that none of the quotations attributed to me in Mr. Dutton’s review are mine (with the exception of the first one, as noted above)—and that they are not my method of approach, nor my level of thinking, nor my kind of writing.
P.S. Please print in full.
On June 15, 1961, the newspaper published “With Apologies to Ayn Rand” by John Dutton, which stated: “My column in the May 4 issue was based on Ayn Rand’s book entitled ‘FOR THE NEW INTELLECTUAL: THE PHILOSOPHY OF AYN RAND,’ published by Random House. Owing to the erroneous use of quotation marks in some instances, what were actually the views of this columnist appeared in print as being specific quotations from Miss Rand’s book. This error is particularly to be regretted in light of the fact that in certain socio-economic areas touched on in my column, my own thinking and philosophy is not shared by Miss Rand.”