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Anthem Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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The short novella, Anthem by Ayn Rand was published in 1938. Ayn submitted it two an American and an English publishing firm, but in the end the publishing firm Cassell located in England published the book. This book contains 52 pages. This book follows the life of Equality 7-2521 as he tries to survive in the dystopian society he was born into.
Equality 7-2521 is the main character of the book. He has two friends, Union 5-3992 and International 4-8818. They found an entrance to an old tunnel in their assigned work area. Equality 7-2521 is a street sweeper. He is a very intelligent man, however he learned things too quickly and asked too many questions. As a result, the Council of Vocations assigned him the job of street cleaner as a punishment for his intelligence. With this newly discovered tunnel, he started preforming scientific experiments. He stole some paper and started writing his findings in a journal. While cleaning the streets Equality 7-2521 meets a woman with the name, Liberty 5-3000. The two discover that they love each other, however in their society you do not love each other, man and woman cannot even talk to each other. In his experiments Equality 7-2521 rediscovers electricity. He decides to take his finding to the World Council of Scholars, in the hope they will be impressed and amazed by his discovery. However, this is not the case. They sentence him to death. Before they could catch him, he runs into the Uncharted Forest, where he is joined by Liberty 5-3000. They live their lives together in the forest and discover what they can about life before their dystopian society.
Throughout most of the people refer to themselves as “we” instead of “I.” In this society they removed the words “I,” and “You.” They believed that individuality was a sign of ego. The fact that the society, thought referring to yourself with “I” would get rid of a person’s individuality is absurd. A person’ individuality comes from the way a person acts. For example in the book, Equality 7-2521 expressed his individuality through his scientific experiments. Yes, he could not state that he, himself accomplished his experiments. But he still did it himself. It was not a group of people doing these experiments. Therefore, he was still expressing his individuality. The society did not successfully take away a person’s individuality, just by removing the words, “I” and “You.” Equality 7-2521 still found a way to express himself in his own way.
This book was an enjoyable read. I liked the dystopian society. I would recommend this book to young adults. I liked that this dystopian society took a way the words “I” and “You.” While they thought that this would take away a person’s individuality it did not. I liked that the viewpoints switched from First Person to Third Person throughout the story. It provided a unique perspective. Also, I liked that the focused of the story stayed on Equality 7-2521. Yes, he feel in love with a woman, but it did not become a love story. The book stayed focused on the dystopian society and the issues that Equality 7-2521 found wrong in the society.
First and foremost, this story is a fantastic tale about a man struggling with his individuality in a dystopian communist society. It should be required reading for everyone, as to the dangers of group thinking and how it can inhibit innovation and creativity. I won't give too much away, but the unusual writing style captures the reader at the very first paragraph and takes them on an immersive journey.
Having said that, this is a terrible publication. The production quality is terrible. The color cover is low-resolution and full of JPG compression artifacts. While that doesn't detract from the story, it's a sign of the amateur design that extends to the text. The real problem is inside. The margins are huge. That may be useful for some readers who want room to annotate, but the person doing the layout went with an absurdly small typeface. I measured it: its 7 points high. By comparison, most books are 10-12pt. Some books may go down to 9pt but 7pts is just ridiculous. The book is quite thin at 42 pages of 6x9 inch paper, so I can't find a compelling reason to make the point size so small. Given that the story is a quick read with short chapters, the publisher could have gone up to 10pt type and reduced the margins to something reasonable and not added any pages to it. It's completely unnecessary and renders the publication unreadable to many readers.
It is a story that begins in a captive culture without even the hint of individuality let alone of individual liberty. One man who does not even know he is a single human being because the words for it have been erased from his society, slowly discovers that he has a mind, he can learn, he can love, and he can live as something other than a cog in a mindless machinelike society. He discovers what it is to be a man. And the reader discovers the importance of having the words to describe and express individuality.
This is a short interesting novella with profound implications. If you have not read it, it will be fun to read and worth the short time it takes to read. You may come to love it as some of us do and revisit it happily from time to time.
Newer editions also include a copy of the older edition as it was first published in England in 1937 with editing markup for the American publication in 1946. For those interested in editing, it is a fascinating example of how to change the mood and tone of a story while leaving the plot and message intact.