Thursday, January 11, 2007

 

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

^^^This is the third time I've read this book, but the first two times were 25 years ago. The philosophy of the book was pretty much how I remembered it., but I had forgotten much of the story. And the story is so fantastic. Ayn Rand created a dark, dismal world falling apart because of the weakness and small-mindedness of most of humanity. The only hope for the earth are the objectivists (her word), those who use their minds and talents to produce great things. The good guys withdraw their abilities and leave the others to completely ruin the world through their greediness and ineptitude. I loved the story and the way Rand draws her characters so well. I consider this book a must read for anyone. But I don't love the book as much as I did 25 years ago. I don't see things as black and white as Rand portrays them in this book. You have a few people who I called the Cowboys: noble, rugged, talented, brilliant, independent, loners and individualists vs. the Snideley Whiplashes: sneaky, conniving, mean-spirited, sniveling power-mongers. And everyone else is pretty much beneath notice. While I agree with much of Rand's philosophy, I think there is more to life than just your own individual worth. So many of us work hard and earn what we get but aren't blessed with blinding intellects. And some people need help even if they don't expect it or feel they should get what they don't deserve. I did read more of Rand's rhetoric this time than previously, but it was just too much. I'm sure John Galt's speech is a masterpiece of the rights of capitolism and the worship of human ability but I skipped most of it. It was 50 pages long!!! And how could those heroes leave poor Eddie Willers, albeit not a brilliant man, but not a looter either, and loyal and hard-working and as good an assistant to Dagny Taggart as anyone could have, out in the cold at the end. I had read somewhere that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie were going to make a movie of the book and I couldn't picture Brad as John Galt. After reading it again, I now see that he would probably play Hank Rearden who really is the central male character for most of the story. We don't actually meet John Galt until two-thirds into the story. He's just behind all the strange disappearances of the men of ability. You just have to read it. Take what you want of the politics but the story and characters are wonderful.
Here are some quotes that I liked or that particularly illustrate what this book is all about:
"The only value I care to live for, is that which has never been loved by the world, has never won recognition or friends or defenders: human ability."Dagny Taggart
"If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort, the heavier the world bore down on his shoulders--what would tell him to do?"
"To shrug." Franscisco dAnconia
"Do you know the hallmark of the second-rater? It's the resentment of another man's achievement." Dr. Stadler
"I refuse to apologize for my ability--I refuse to apologize for my success--I refuse to apologize for my money. If this is evil, make the most of it. If this is what the public finds harmful to its interest, let the public destroy me. This is my code--and I will accept no other. I could say to you that I have done more good for my fellow men than you can ever hope to accomplish--but I will not say it, because I do not seek the good of others as a sanction for my right to exist, nor do I recognize the good of others as a justification for their seizure of my property or their destruction of my life. I will not say that the good of others was the purpose of my work--my own good was my purpose, and I despise the man who surrenders his. I could say to you that you do not serve the public good--that nobody's good can be achieved at the price of human sacrifices--that when you violate the rights of one man, you have violated the rights of all, and a public of rightless creatures is doomed." Hank Rearden
"I like cigarettes, Miss Taggert. I like to think of fire held in a man's hand. Fire, a dangerous force, tamed at his fingertips." Cigarette vendor. This is the quote I always remembered because I thought it portrayed man's ability to think and to conquor so well. It's just that I always thought John Galt said it.
^^^While this book is incredibly well-thought out, imaginative, creative, thought-provoking and riveting, I am only giving it a 4.5 rating because I din't like the way Rand slammed you with her political agenda over and over again. Also, I don't buy these two men who are strong, silent, geniuses just giving up Dagny Taggert, the woman they love with their whole lives, to John Galt and being thrilled about it.
Rating 4.5
posted by Framed at 7:32 PM

9 Comments:
Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...
This is on my chunksters list I believe...perhaps I'll leave it to be an alternate. I'm not quite in the mood to have a political agenda shoveled at me! I enjoyed the quotes you chose though so I think I will eventually read it.

Heather
www.thelibraryladder.blogspot.com

10:53 AM
booklogged said...
I didn't realize you had read this 2 times before now. WOW! I really loved it the first time I read it, also about 25 years ago - I must have been 3! Don't think I've got the gusto to try it a 2nd time.

Good for you - one book down. I'm only on p.50 or so in my Chunkster/Classic, which is Woman in White. I better get a move on it. What will you be reading next?

4:06 PM
SuziQoregon said...
I first read this book in High School and loved it. I've read it twice more since then. I agree about the story without the political agenda is great, but the politics becomes overwhelming in places. There are some fabulous characters, though. Francisco and Ellis Wyatt were my favorites.

8:14 PM
nessie said...
I never read it but have heard so much about this author with mixed reviews. Some swear by her and others dismiss her. Why I would say she is an essential read if anything for that simple reason - the debate, the passion she ignites. It seems what one cannot be about her books (in general) is passive.

8:34 PM
Framed said...
Heather, I skipped most of the rhetoric because you get the message just through the story itself. And it's a faster read that way.

Booklogged, At one time, I considered this my favorite book of all time. And I re-read books a lot.

Suzie, I agree with you about Francisco. I had forgotten him and was so excited when he first entered the story. There are just some characters that are so compelling. I always wanted him to end up with Dagny. As you could probably tell, I really liked Eddie Willers also.

Nessie, I heard a story recently of two teenagers leaving their faith after reading Rand's "The Fountainhead." It's a great book as well. Both certainly make for interesting discussions. If you ever read it, let me know. I'd love to hear your take on it.

1:02 PM
Framed said...
Booklogged, that 3 just registered with me. Whatever!!

3:02 PM
JCR said...
This is one of my favorites too... nice treatment. Great blog!

4:08 PM
Lotus Reads said...
I, too, read this book a lot time ago. It really appealed to the individual I was then, but I don't know how the book will appeal to me today. I would probably have the same reaction you are having, Framed. I had more or less forgotten the story, but reading your review has brought a lot of it back. Thanks, Framed.

6:32 AM
Bellezza said...
This is one of my favorite books of all time. Even though I'm caught into a point of view which isn't exactly Christian, such as "do what's right for you instead of thinking of everyone else", I do admire the character's search for excellence. I do admire not pandering to those who are unwilling to put forth their best. I alwasy wish I could have met John Galt. I've always wondered if someone like him really exits, which Ayn insists he does. She said she married him, lucky girl.

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