- Language: English
- ASIN: B008A0P8JU
- Package Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.1 x 0.4 inches
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- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #253,444 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Anthem Paperback – July 12, 2009
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Anthem is a dystopian fiction novella by Ayn Rand, written in 1937 and first published in 1938 in England. It takes place at some unspecified future date when mankind has entered another dark age characterized by irrationality, collectivism, and socialistic thinking and economics. Technological advancement is now carefully planned (when it is allowed to occur at all) and the concept of individuality has been eliminated.
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This story line is silly, but it provides a quick and easy insight into Rand’s philosophy. I would suggest also reading Inventing the Individual by Oxford professor Larry Siedentop. This scholarly account shows how the individual came to be the organizing principal of western society. In prehistoric times people lived in a similar fashion to the culture shown in Anthem.
In addition to disagreeing with Rand’s basic views, I found her “heroes” to be uncomfortably similar to Hitler’s Nordic ideal: Tall, blond and good looking. In addition, women clearly play a subservient role in her individualistic society. Still I recommend this work because of the influence Rand has had on American thinking and as an easy way to understand her basic ideas.
I will not go through this short story blow by blow, as the fun in this book is to discover what Equality 7-2521 discovers. Would you draw the same conclusion or follow the same course? You will find yourself kibitzing and cringing.
"You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny." (Brihadaranyaka IV.4.5)
For the person that is new to Ayn Rand this is as good place to start, as any and it will be an eye opener. If you have the time to read "Atlas Shrugged" the concepts, thoughts, and speeches are more complete.
Pro or con, you cannot afford to pass this book. You may be surprised to find that you are surrounded by Objectivists.
As for the story itself, it is a great vision of a dystopian future - much like 1984. Both Anthem and 1984 describe a society in which the concepts of “individuality” and “freedom” have been totally lost. But whereas in 1984, it is Big Brother who is all-important, in Anthem it is the collective “we” that is all-important.
This is a good introduction to the main themes of Ayn Rand’s work that she would develop over the years.