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The Trouble With Ragnar Danneskjöld<br>by Rory Hand

• Strike-the-Root

2 Comments in Response to

Comment by Powell Gammill
Entered on:
Wiki is just a terrible source of information, isn**Q**t it?

;-)

Comment by Ernest Hancock
Entered on:
Ragnar Danneskjöld
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Characters_in_Atlas_Shrugged

One of the original Strikers. He is now world famous as a pirate. Ragnar was from Norway, the son of a bishop and the scion of one of Norway**Q**s most ancient, noble families. He attended Patrick Henry University and became friends with John Galt and Francisco d**Q**Anconia, while studying under Hugh Akston and Robert Stadler. When he became a pirate, he was disowned and excommunicated. There is a price on his head in Norway, Portugal, Turkey.

Ragnar seizes relief ships that are being sent from the United States to Europe. As the novel progresses, Ragnar begins, for the first time, to become active in American waters, and is even spotted in Delaware Bay. Reportedly, his ship is better than any available in the fleets of the world**Q**s navies.

People assume that as a pirate he simply takes the seized goods to himself. However, while many other protagonists take pride in making a personal profit from the proceeds of their creativity, Danneskjöld**Q**s motivation is to restore to other creative people the money which was unjustly taken away from them - specifically, their income tax payments.

For that purpose, Danneskjöld maintains a network of informants in the US Internal Revenue Service (and possibly also those of other countries) who provide him with detailed copies of the tax receipts; among other talents, Danneskjöld is mentioned as being a skilled accountant. The proceeds from the goods he seizes (presumably minus his operating expenses) are deposited in accounts opened in Midas Mulligan**Q**s bank in the names of various industrialists, to the amounts of the income tax taken from them - which are handed to them (in gold) upon their joining the Strikers.

Kept in the background for much of the book, Danneskjöld makes a personal appearance when he risks his life to meet Hank Rearden in the night and hand him a bar of gold as an **QQ**advance payment**QQ**, to encourage Rearden to persevere in his increasingly difficult situation.

As a robber with ideological principles, Danneskjöld superficially resembles the opposite or negative of Robin Hood; he considers Robin Hood as an arch-enemy which he had sworn to pursue and destroy - or rather, not Robin Hood the person, who is long dead, but the principle that it is permissible to rob the rich and give to the poor, a principle which in Danneskjöld**Q**s (and Rand**Q**s) view is highly pernicious.

In the conversation with Rearden, Danneskjöld claims to limit himself to attacks on government property and never touch private property. This contradicts previous chapters where there is mention of Danneskjöld sinking ships belonging of D**Q**anconia Copper and destroying Orren Boyle**Q**s plant on the coast of Maine, where Boyle attempted to produce Rearden Metal. However, the first does not truly constitute robbery, since it was done with the consent of and in collusion with the owner, Danneskjöld**Q**s old friend Francisco D**Q**anconia, and was aimed at helping Francisco**Q**s efforts to destroy his own company. And the second was in reaction to Boyle having violated, with government sanction, Rearden**Q**s intellectual property (the term did not yet exist at the time of writing).

Danneskjöld is married to the former actress Kay Ludlow - a relationship kept hidden from the outside world, which only knows of Ludlow as a former famous film star who retired and dropped out of sight. It is mentioned that some of the Strikers have strong reservations about his way of **QQ**conducting the common struggle**QQ**.

Members of Danneskjöld**Q**s crew, other than himself, are never named nor appear in the book. Evidently, they are not given access of the hidden valley where their captain sometimes goes, nor - on the basis of need to know - are they given its location, which they might give away if captured.

Such a prolonged and successful piratical career would require a secret haven, probably on the Atlantic Coast of the US. In the end of the book, Danneskjöld**Q**s crew are mentioned as preparing to form a new community, while his ship would be converted into **QQ**a modest ocean liner**QQ**. Danneskjöld himself refreshes his knowledge of Aristotle and prepares to become a full-time philosopher, and it is hinted that posterity might remember him mainly as Hugh Akston**Q**s disciple rather than as a pirate.

According to Ayn Rand (verbal report), his name is a tribute to Victor Hugo. In Hugo**Q**s first novel, Hans of Iceland, the hero becomes the first of the Counts of Danneskjöld. His name may be a pun on **Q**Dane**Q**s Gold**Q**, although **QQ**skjold**QQ** means shield, not gold. The first name **QQ**Ragnar**QQ** recalls Ragnar Lodbrok, one of the most famous of the viking leaders (to whose many piratical exploits no motive other than seeking loot was ever attributed). Ragnar Danneskjöld appears in section 161.

However, there are some inaccuracies. **Q**Ö**Q** is not a Norwegian letter, but a Swedish one; its Norwegian equivalent is **Q**ø**Q**. **QQ**Skjöld**QQ** and **QQ**skjøld**QQ** still exists in Scandinavian surnames and is an old fashioned spelling of the word for **QQ**shield**QQ**, that is now **QQ**skjold**QQ** (Norwegian) and **QQ**sköld**QQ** (Swedish). Also, there is actually no noble class in Norway, as the Black Death of the Middle Ages forced any survivors to revert to subsistence farming, and nobility itself was officially abolished by the Storting in 1821.

A possible inspiration might be Norwegian Trygve Hoff that Ayn Rand knew. Hoff was the editor of the Farmand business magazine and outspoken free market capitalist. Trygve Hoff was of an old fine Norwegian family **QQ**Hoff**QQ** owning grand estates outside the city if Tønsberg in Norway. Tryge Hoff was married to the Norwegian actress Aase Bye. Hoff was an admierer of Aristotle and a collector of ancient busts. Hoff also had the kind of hero like looks Ayn Rand liked, similar looks to her husband Frank O**Q**Conor.


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