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What Happened on September 2?

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In Atlas Shrugged a number of major events occur on September 2. What significance, if any, did this date have in Miss Rand’s life?

Miss Rand selected that date because it was the date on which she started the actual writing of Atlas Shrugged.

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Someday "Labor Day" will be a national holiday for the celebration of Atlas Shrugged and all productive creators (start now).

According to The Journals of Ayn Rand, she began writing Atlas Shrugged on September 2, 1946, and "although AR had thought of the plot-theme in late 1943, she did not begin to make notes until January 1, 1945, and only began full-time work on the novel in April 1946."

The source of the biographical information on "September 2" is the interviews with Ayn Rand in the early 1960s. Harry Binswanger quoted her on this topic from those interviews in his 1992 talk, "The Atlas Shrugged Years: Reminiscences and Recollections" presented in conjunction with Mary Ann Sures.

There is no entry in The Journals for September 2, but on August 24, 1946 there is a detailed "Final Chapter Outline" (which was later revised) for before she started writing.

There are other detailed notes before that and just before the beginning of writing, including this excerpt from August 31, 1946, the last date with an entry before Sept. 2:

Philosophical Points

The people in the story are functioning, in their human moments, on old premises and principles, i.e., on the principles left over from the creators' world, the principles of the strikers—to the extent to which they exist and function as human beings at all. They do not realize it, of course. Their avowed principles are those of collectivism and altruism. But whenever they have to act upon, or rely upon, or appeal to, decency or sense—they are implying the principles of the creators. This has a desperate quality—particularly when someone points it out to them; they are counting on the ideas they have denounced and discarded. (Example: any appeal to honesty, honor, integrity, rational sense—or personal profit. Along these lines: Francisco d'Anconia pointing out the mistake of assuming that he wishes to make money.)

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Today's email lists some of the "September 2" events from the novel (but did not mention why "September 2" was selected for the plot by Ayn Rand or its significance as the beginning of writing):

It's September 2nd. Start a Conversation.

"A white rectangle hung over the city, imparting the date to the men in the streets below. In the rusty light of this evening’s sunset, the rectangle said: September 2." - Atlas Shrugged

Depicting a world spinning out of control, plagued by soaring government spending, crippling regulations and ever-increasing assaults on individual liberty, Ayn Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged more than 50 years ago as a warning.

One look at the news today and you come to realize that Atlas Shrugged is NOW NON-FICTION.

Buy the Official "NOW NON-FICTION" T-Shirt Today and Start a Conversation.

On this day in Atlas Shrugged

- Eddie Willers walks through NYC and is bothered by the city's gigantic calendar announcing "September 2nd."

- Hank Rearden and Dagny Taggart take a vacation and discover an abandoned motor.

- Francisco D'Anconia's money speech is made on September 2nd at Jim and Cheryl Taggart's wedding.

- D'Anconia Copper is nationalized on September 2nd and the date on the calendar is replaced with "Brother, you asked for it!"

You can search for "September" on Phil's reference CD to see all the occurrences and the full passages.

Somewhere in the piles here I have a timeline outline, with page references, which I made of events in the novel selected for the clues on their relative timing within the plot, including all the "September 2"s. It's useful for a better temporal perspective on the plot.

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