Review: Anthem


By Ayn Rand
(Plume Books, Paperback, 9780452281257, 1999, 256pp.)
Original Publication: 1937

The Short of It:

There is no “I” in TEAM. Got that?

The Rest of It:

Anthem should be required reading for anyone who enjoys dipping into dystopian fiction. First published in 1937, this novella is so ahead of its time…even now! Individuality has been eliminated and technological advances are few and far between. Everything is done for the whole of the community…not for individual gain and much of what is done can be argued either way. The word “I” has been eliminated and citizens must refer to themselves as “We.”

Equality 7-2521 is a six-foot male, 21 years-old and the main character of the story. He is extremely bright and dreams of being sent to the School of the Scholars, but instead, the Council of Vocations sends him to The Home of the Street Sweepers, where he bides his time, happy to be cleaning the streets as it is a good and noble thing to do. While working, he comes across a hidden tunnel which gives him an idea of how it used to be, and then he meets The Golden One. She is like no other woman he has ever seen and she is clearly not one of them. When an invention of his is not well received, he and The Golden One decide to run away.

This novella was entertaining in so many ways. For instance, anyone who hits the age of 40 is sent to the Home for the Useless, where they do nothing but rest and relax all day. Can you imagine? I’m so there. The other thing that struck me, is how similar my workplace environment is to the world depicted in Anthem. I work in technology,  yet moving forward is not as easy at it should be and takes all sorts of blessings from the “top” to get through the approval process. There are days when I feel just like Equality 7-2521. Yes, I can certainly relate.

Rand, who was also a philosopher, believed that reason was the only form of acquiring knowledge and rejected anything to do with religion. She firmly believed in capitalism and to this day, her rather large following continues to share her views with the public.

I read The Fountainhead while in college. I read it on my own, for fun, and remember it having a significant impact on me. I’m happy to say that Anthem, although much smaller in scale, had the same effect on me. It makes me want to bust out in song, leap off of tall buildings and tell certain people to stick it where the sun don’t shine.

That says it all, doesn’t it?

Source: Borrowed from the library.

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18 thoughts on “Review: Anthem”

  1. Hi Tina-
    Good review. This caught my eye as we had been discussing Ayn Rand recently. I read many of her books in my college days. Atlas Shrugged is one of the few books my DH has actually read more than once. He listened to the Audible version this past year and raved at how well it fits today’s society.

  2. Wow. Is it bad for me to admit that Ayn Rand intimidates me? I’ve always been afraid that she would be way over my head. But now I’m thinking maybe not. It sounds really good. I almost wet myself over Home of the Useless! Sign me up!

    1. I am not intimidated by Rand. She had some big ideas, sure, but the language is simple. No complex plot points either. I read this and listened to it on audio and both were great (and short!)

      Sent from my BlackBerry

  3. I didn’t realize that this was dystopian in nature. I generally like dystopian fiction but haven’t been a huge fan of Ayn Rand.

  4. I’m sorry to say this is where we part similarities. I’m not a big Ayn Rand fan and dystopian fiction is just not for me. Though I have to say I’m all for being packed off to the Home of the Useless. If you remember from your Facebook post my bags are packed and I’m waiting for the shuttle.

    1. Well, prior to this year I was never a fan of dystopian fiction. I’m not sure why I am so fascinated with it now. Not obsessed but curious…very curious. Yes! You and I at the Home for the Useless. What fun!

  5. I always think writers who could write a intriguing dystopia stories are brilliant. Since you said this is a “smaller” scale, I think I may try this one because all her other books look good for a foot stool!

    1. It can easily be read in an afternoon. I’ve been wanting to read Atlas Shrugged (and I will) but I have to save that chunkster for winter break where I can sit and read for long periods of time.

  6. I read Anthem in my college days, where Ayn Rand was much talked about than now. I remember I’d liked it but has since forgotten the content. Thanks for your succinct review. I’m afraid AR has lost some of her appeal today… although as you said, her works are still relevant. The recent movie adaptation of Atlas Shrugged has not gone well with the critics at all. But of course, my question is, why wait till now to make a movie on her work and not decades earlier when she was way more popular.

  7. I’ve read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Before reading this review, if anyone had suggested I read Anthem I probably would have rolled my eyes and scoffed at the thought of reading anymore ayn Rand. The woman irritates me. But, of course, your review got my attention. I wouldn’t mind being in the Home of the Useless and I would like to feel as you did in the last line of your review! I’m also wondering if Equality 7-2521 wanted to go to the School of the Scholars how is he possibly happy cleaning the streets?!

  8. My husband loved this when he read it in college but for some reason I’ve always been scared off my anything with Rand’s name on it. Sounds like I need to get over it!

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