Monday, December 21, 2009

Anthem by Ayn Rand: Thoughts

Don’t judge a book by its author. That’s what I learned from reading Ayn Rand’s Anthem. I read The Fountainhead earlier this year and did not enjoy it at all. My friend Becky loves The Fountainhead so much she inspired me to give Ayn Rand another shot, so I picked up Anthem.

Anthem is like The Giver by Lois Lowry and 1984 by George Orwell made a really good book baby. The good parts of each book are combined in Anthem to form what I think is the best politically paranoid book I have read. (Politically paranoid is what I call books like Fahrenheit 451, 1984, Animal Farm, etc)

Anthem takes place in a world where people are assigned their occupations, reproduction is highly controlled, and the word “I” is unheard of. People are numbers and basically robots. Anthem is told through the eyes of a street sweeper who violates all the rules of his society and hides in a tunnel to write and conduct experiments. He meets a peasant girl who he calls the Golden One. Together, the violate everything their society values, the communal life.

My big thing against The Fountainhead was that it took hundreds of pages to say what could have been said in about 200. Anthem solves this problem. There is a powerful deeper message with a page-turning story all within about 120 pages. When life is crazy, we sometime have to rely on short novels to satisfy our cravings. Anthem is a wonderful choice. It crams so much into its small length. Love, Danger, Philosophy, and more.