books Essay Project Gutenberg

The Anthem by Ayn Rand

In most cases, I review stuff that I like. The rest are things that left some sort of clear impression on me and made me think. The Anthem is not either of those, but I still thought it was interesting enough to review.

This is one dystopia that has been thought out. Most dystopias are concentration camps with different levels of movement, named differently and people wear weird colorful stuff. But this one is different. The whole world functions differently. Except for the fact that they are humans, they seem alien. Because of how they live, what they do. Everyone works from their teenage years to their forties. After that, you are put into a special facility. Everyone is put to use by the system and the system is absolute, always right, infallible. Everyone is numbered, they have nouns for names that reflect the need of everyone to be useful to the other and to contribute to the greatest good, achieving community goals. There are no colors, everything is bleak. There is no fun. Should it be like that? Some people would like and love that life I assume. But the world-building and setting are above what I expected from this book.

I am in a dilemma when it comes to the language. On one hand, it is strict, simple, like how a lifelong bureaucrat would approach his first creative project. But I don’t know if it is intentional or not. If this is her usual writing style I’m down on it. If she’s using this type of style intentionally, then it’s a huge plus because it does fit a person who has been raised in such a society.

The conclusions seem radical and the way the character teleports from one extreme to the next made me a bit sad. There is more good in others and there is wisdom in the community. Going from a meaningless worm to a Cosmic entity seems dangerous, volatile, like something that could be followed by flags and marches(and we all know that isn’t going to end up well). The lack of pity and understanding for the former self depresses. It is like an adult looking back on his cringe teenage self with nothing but vitriol.

The penultimate chapter of the book is a manifesto. I planned on going by it line by line and expressing where we agree or disagree but that would just be propaganda of myself. I think everyone who reads the book needs to do that for themselves, it is an ideal opportunity to have a conversation with Ayn Rand. (If you desire such a thing).

I read the version from Project Gutenberg and you can too if you click this link.

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