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Anthem by Ayn Rand
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Anthem (edition 1996)

by Ayn Rand, Leonard Peikoff (Introduction), Leonard Peikoff (Contributor)

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7,208145494 (3.62)163
Member:ChristinaDye
Title:Anthem
Authors:Ayn Rand
Other authors:Leonard Peikoff (Introduction), Leonard Peikoff (Contributor)
Info:Signet (1996), Edition: Expanded 50th Anniversary, Mass Market Paperback, 272 pages
Collections:Your library, Favorites
Rating:****
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Anthem by Ayn Rand

Recently added byandrewli, Quietman2, private library, amberkaye81, ecoprob, digicura, laura.aviva, madspinner, devonro
  1. 113
    1984 by George Orwell (MMSequeira)
    MMSequeira: Both 1984 and Anthem we're inspired by Zamyatin's We. Both are worth reading, as cautionary tales.
  2. 40
    Essays on Ayn Rand's Anthem by Robert Mayhew (mcaution)
    mcaution: Gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of Rand's novella through this unique collection of scholarly criticism.
  3. 63
    We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (myshelves)
    myshelves: Classic dystopian novel.
  4. 44
    The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood (coolsnak3)
    coolsnak3: more dystopia for you. :)
  5. 11
    Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (TaylorReynolds)
  6. 12
    The Giver by Lois Lowry (kxlly)
  7. 34
    Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (Unionhawk)
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» See also 163 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 144 (next | show all)
I think. I am. I will.

This book is about rediscovering individualism. It's about a future possibly where people are deprived of names, independence, and values. It is a very short but good read. ( )
  jessica_reads | Mar 24, 2015 |
For years I have been meaning to read this book and I finally did over the summer. After I was done with it, I wondered why I hadn’t read this book in the first place. I blamed it on the fact that I tend to be more of a fantasy reader than a science fiction reader. However, I am now finding a place in my heart for this genre.

I was pretty disturbed by this book. Not only was the government in this book “recruiting” young geniuses to fight their wars for them, but they were turning it into a game. Since every training exercise was a game many of the children would forget the fact they were training for war, which gave me the creeps. War, in this future world, is a game to the people who are being forced to fight it.

This book really made me think about the prevalence of war based video games today. Now, I’m not against these games but I did find it interesting to compare what these children were doing during training to what my friends do in their own living rooms. There were some eerie similarities between the two, like the planning and strategy that sometimes goes in to playing them.

While there were some parts that were a little slow, the book was totally worth the read. It really makes the reader look more critically at how our society views war today and even video games. I give this book a 4/5 and I recommend it to most everyone. This book is proof that the science fiction genre can have literary value despite what critics of the genre may say. ( )
  kell1732 | Jan 25, 2015 |
This is on of Ayn Rand's shorter works that encapsulates her ideas about objectivism. I read both The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged in high school and found them troublingly off-putting. Anthem was no different in that respect. While I sympathize with Rand's emphasis on the importance of individuality, I have trouble with the idea that differences between human beings can and should be used as justification for unequal treatment. Condemning people to street sweeping because they are "less good" in some way than other human beings is no better than condemning people to street sweeping because they do not fit with the dominant culture's idea of "good" people, which is one of the great evils put forth by this novella. I don't think that individual differentiation should be erased by any means, but neither do I think that constructing a social system based on some perception of inherent goodness is an act of justice. Inherent goodness is a relative concept that changes with context and according to the views of the dominant majority. I think there is a middle road to be had here, one that respects individuality and skills without using that respect as an excuse for allowing the suffering of groups deemed less valuable in some way.

I understand Rand's background coming out of the communist Soviet Union, but I don't think that socialism is the social ill that she paints it as in her works. Socialized medicine seems a very good idea to me, for instance. There is no reason that anyone in this country should not be getting the medical care that they need. ( )
  librarycatnip | Jan 12, 2015 |
I have this notion that the similarities between Ayn Rand and H.P. Lovecraft merit a closer look, and so I was kind of excited, when I was about two chapters in, to discover that Anthem was first published in 1937, the last year that the Old Gent dwelt within the confines of Euclidean space. Because, and I cannot stress this enough, this novella starts off very much in the Poe/Lovecraft mode of the first-person Gothic tale, with our narrator confessing to his terrible crimes in writing. He's even writing by the light of a stolen candle, and it's hard to get more Gothic than that. And then we learn--more shades of Lovecraft--that the confession is connected to the protagonist's discovery of a subterranean space belonging to a lost civilization about which dark things are muttered.

The setting also has something of the feel of Lovecraft's Dreamlands, since the setting is a city of no later than medieval technology run according to traditions interpreted by a council of elders. (Though no mention is made regarding prohibitions on feline homicide.) So, here we have all the makings of a strong Gothic tale: the society with its arbitrary laws and customs, the daring (if off-kilter) protagonist, the discovery of the lost civilization, the quest for forbidden knowledge. I wish I could say that the story lives up to that early promise, but it doesn't, and since most people won't read this for its Gothic qualities, I'll try not to dwell too much on that.

The first chapter is actually solid enough. There are a few flaws in the world building, but nothing to really ruin the plausibility. In the second chapter, when the main character falls in love with a beautiful lady, we learn that men and women are not allowed to have sexual thoughts except for once a year when they have sex in order to reproduce. This society doesn't have powerful libido-suppressants or brainwave modulators or anything like that at it's disposal. It basically tries to suppress the human sexual drive through disapproval, a strategy with the same long-term prospects as stopping a locust swarm with a large umbrella. (Even Lovecraft, who liked sex way less than Rand did, would only have attempted such a thing with a society of aliens or transdimensional beings or something along those lines.)

Soon, the protagonist discovers electricity--through a plot contrivance that is, frankly, amateurish--and realizes that electricity and lightning ('The power of the sky') are the same thing. Soon, he is experimenting with electricity and, having recreated a light bulb, declaring: "The power of the sky can be made to do men's bidding. There are no limits to its secrets and its might, and it can be made to grant us anything if we but choose to ask." That's not the only instance of an increasingly mad scientist tone that the protagonist takes on.

Having figured out the principles of the funny glass spheres in the cave and the protagonist reinvents the light bulb. He gets excited about showing it to the elders, reasoning that never had such an invention been offered to men. And I realize that maybe he means the people of his current civilization, but the way it's written, I just wanted to point out the whole cave full of batteries and light bulbs and how he's taking credit for someone else's invention.

This peaks in the climax of the novel, when he shows the light bulb to the elders, and they say it will have to be destroyed, and he runs out, yelling, "You fools! You thrice-damned fools!"

That's also pretty much where the story leaves off being interesting. He runs away to surprisingly unpopulated woods, his lady friend joins him, he makes a bow and arrow (though there's no reason to believe he would have any training in how to do this), they find a conveniently abandoned and well preserved house where he learns (because she's a woman and not up for learning on her own, or something) about the past, and then he engages in a long and tedious rant which is either the kind of thing you're into (if you like Rand's politics/philosophy) or should just be skipped over.

Interestingly (and getting back to the way the story collides into Gothic archetypes), the story ends at a familiar premise: the hero in an ancient, isolated structure believing himself safe and the rightful lord of the property wherein he dwells. In a Gothic text, that tends to be where things start to go wrong

There are some other elements, minor absurdities which wouldn't stand out so much if the rest of the work was actually engaging. One thread is how certain words--such as I, she, he, and ego--have been forbidden, but it's kind of half-assed, and if you're interested in how a regime might manipulate language to make the wrong kind of thoughts impossible, stick to Orwell's 1984. (Rand may have experienced totalitarianism up close, but her understanding of it does not match Orwell's.)

Really, the main problem is that at this point in her career, the need to deliver a polemic has started to take over whatever gifts Rand has as a writer. At least a pulp stylist like Lovecraft could have made this entertaining, though the moral message would likely have been much more ambiguous. I do wonder what Ayn Rand's version of "Herbert West - Reanimator" would have been like, though.

A note on scoring: I oscillated between 2 and 3 stars for this. That lest section, though brief compared to the filibuster ending of Atlas Shrugged, is painfully dull, but right up until that point, I was entertained enough to be leaning towards 3 stars. I thought about downgrading, but since it's so eminently skippable, I decided I shouldn't penalize the novel for it. ( )
  CarlosMcRey | Jan 3, 2015 |
classic alongside fountainhead, i reread bits and pieces of it over the break.
  ecm014 | Dec 1, 2014 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ayn Randprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Peikoff, LeonardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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First words
It is a sin to write this. It is a sin to think words no others think and to put them down upon a paper no others are to see. It is base and evil. It is as if we were speaking alone to no ears but our own. And we know well that there is no transgression blacker than to do or think alone. We have broken the laws. The laws say that men may not write unless the Council of Vocations bid them so. May we be forgiven!
Quotations
This, my body and spirit, this is the end of the quest.
Rather would we be damned with you than blessed with all our brothers.
The fortunes of my spirit are not to be made into coins of brass and be flung into the wind as alms for the poor of spirit.
I understood that centuries of chains and lashes will not kill the spirit of man nor the sense of truth within him.
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Equality 7-2521 lives in the Dark Ages of the future, where all decisions are made by committee, all people live in collectives, all traces of individualism have been wiped out. But the spark of individual thought and freedom still burns in Equality 7-2521, a passion which he has been taught to call sinful. In a purely egalitarian world, he dares to stand forth from the herd -- to think and choose for himself, to discover electricity, and to love the woman of his choice. Now he has been marked for death for committing the ultimate sin: in a world where the great "we" reign supreme, he has rediscovered the lost and holy word "I". This provocative book is an anthem sung in praise of man's ego.… (more)

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2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0451191137, 0141189614

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