Anthem : Ayn Rand

by Lakshmikanth Koundinya on October 6, 2012

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Authors: Ayn Rand
Publisher: Plume
Year: 1999(first published 1938)
ISBN: 9780452281257
Rating: ★★★★★
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This beguiling book in spite of being surprisingly short, speaks volumes about Objectivism, the philosophy of Ayn Rand. Written long before her more famous novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, this novella is for readers who like to invest only a little time and yet expect to gain a proper perspective on her philosophy. This book is a must for all young men and women as it storms the brain with provocative thoughts which seek answers pertaining to the wildest of an individual’s passions which in turn lead invariably to the realization of his or her self.

This emotionally charged book is about how Equality 7-2521, the protagonist and the narrator of the story grapples with a dystopian society that expects him to be at its beck and call. A dystopian society is one in which individualism has no meaning and is lost to such extent where an individual completely forgets his own self and thinks and acts in accordance with the collective laws set by the society. The society’s moral code and its considerations about what is vice and what is virtue are diligently described for the reader.

Equality 7-2521, a six feet tall and 21-year-old male, is assigned to the House of Street Sweepers by the Council of Vocations despite the fact that he wishes to be a scholar. Though he accepts the verdict in muteness, his ruling passion goads him to defy the Council of Vocations in secrecy and thus he begins to discover new places that are forbidden. Breaking another rule, he falls in love with Liberty 5-3000, whom he later renames as the “Golden One”. His discoveries eventually lead him to the greatest of all inventions, an invention with potential that can change the lives of all his brothers, of all mankind. He plans to proudly present his invention at the meeting of World Council of Scholars. He expects his invention to be rightly rewarded; considering the greatness of his invention he also feels that his crimes should be magnanimously forgiven.

What is this invention that he believes to be so great? Will it be rewarded? What are his crimes? Will his crimes be forgiven? Will he be admitted into the Home of Scholars? Will he finally unite with his lover, Liberty 5-3000? How would his friend International 1-5537 react to his invention? What will Collective 0-009 decide to do with his invention? What becomes of him finally? What is the unmentionable word that carries death penalty along with it, and why is it still considered sacred by Equality 7-2521? This book answers many more questions along with these.

Ayn Rand’s books and the philosophy of Objectivism associated with them are often seen by an eye of prejudice and are misconstrued especially in regard to the philosophy’s take on love. Objectivism faced and continues to face a lot of harsh criticism by a large number of people. Either to like it or to dislike it one should first know about it. This book elucidates the ideology of Objectivism at an expense of very little effort which makes it worth reading.

Written by Lakshmikanth Koundinya

Of Poe’s heart, Russell’s brain, Wilde’s thought and Rand’s strength – a hedonic wanderer and enchantress’ apprentice in the world of Literature

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