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Review: Anthem

Anthem

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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