Anthem

Ayn Rand
Anthem has long been hailed as one of Ayn Rand's classic novels, and a clear predecessor to her later masterpieces, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. In Anthem, Rand examines a frightening future in which individuals have no name, no independence, and no values. Equality 7-2521 lives in the dark ages of the future where all decisions are made by committee, all people live in collectives, and all traces of individualism have been wiped out. Despite such a restrictive environment, the spark of individual thought and freedom still burns in him--a passion which he has been taught to call sinful. In a purely egalitarian world, Equality 7-2521 dares to stand apart from the herd--to think and choose for himself, to discover electricity, and to love the woman of his choice. Now he has been marked for death for committing the ultimate sin. In a world where the great "we" reign supreme, he has rediscovered the lost and holy word--"I."

Reviews

Reviewed: 2018-12-26
That was quick. I know I've seen print versions of this book and it was not large but I read it in two hours. This is some kind of personal record.

Having recently reread Fahrenheit 451, I could not help but draw parallels. Both are set in a world where thinking for oneself is outlawed and punished by death. The technology represented is opposite in the books but amounts to the same thing. The inundation of empty media and adrenaline seeking in 451 has the same affect as the regimented lives in Anthem. Rand takes it a step further with the eradication of the concept of the individual.
If I had to pick one of these books to recommend, I'd point you to Fahrenheit 451. Anthem does not develop the characters as well and only hints at the terrible emptiness they feel inside. 451 illustrates it much better. Anthem is probably more realistic regarding the technological Dark Age that developed but 451 shows more thoroughly the insidious and seductive nature of the concept of "the greater good." Both are clear warnings against the idea of the needs of the many being more important than the rights of the few. They both also attempt to remind readers of the necessity of free thinking.
There are obvious parallels in The Lottery and The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas, as well.
Reviewed: 2018-07-18
So powerful and truely thought-provoking. Reminds you to value your individualism.
Reviewed: 2016-06-22
Anthem is an interesting dystopian novella in which the word 'I' (and individuality, by extension) does not exist. As most dystopian novels, it gets you thinking about the future of society and humankind. My first impression was that the book could have been made full-length, but in retrospect, Rand manages to say all she needs to in a short amount of space, which I guess enables it to pack a more powerful punch than if it had been drawn out.

I don't feel like I absorbed this book as much as I could have; maybe because I was reading it on my iPod and rushing a bit to get it finished that day. I look forward to re-reading it in the future so I can analyse it a bit better. If you like dystopian novels, you should definitely read this.
Reviewed: 2012-04-03
My main issue with ANTHEM was that it seemed as if Ayn Rand thought that the philosophy behind the book was so good that she didn't have to write well, have a plot (the plot in the book exists, I'll admit, but it's incredibly simplistic), or develop her characters. I mean, the book was okay. I really liked the philosophy pieces in it. I also liked the symbolism of the use of the first person plural pronoun "we" in place of "I". When, at the end, the Unspeakable Word is revealed to be EGO, I was at first disappointed because I had thought that it would be "love" at first, and later "I." However, I feel like "ego" works perfectly: not only does it mean "I" when it's the Latin pronoun, but when it's a noun, it represents the idea of feeling like you're better than another people, which, I think, is one of Rand's main points. We are not all created equal, she seems to argue.

Despite that, however, I just couldn't get past the writing, which was stiff at best, or the plot. Also, when he "creates" the light, I was pretty disappointed. He didn't "create" anything, he fixed an already existing light. Sure, he understood that there was some magic force without a name that made it work (electricity). He didn't invent it. The character development was equally weak; I stopped liking Equality 7-2521 after only a few pages. His name for his love interest, Liberty 5-3000, is "the Golden One"; her nickname for him is almost sappier: "the Unconquered." The seriousness with which they exchanged these names they had invented for each other was almost unbearable. And the names that they eventually take for themselves later on--well, technically, Equality 7-2521 chooses the name, because no matter how much Rand uses phrases like "[Liberty 5-3000] looked straight into [Equality 7-2521's] eyes and they held their head high" ("they" referring to Liberty 5-3000, due to the whole plural pronoun thing), she is in no way a strong character. Her entire role in the book is to passively follow Equality 7-2521, despite the language used by Rand. Anyway, the names that Equality 7-2521 chooses for them later are equally ridiculous.

So, in conclusion, the philosophy was interesting, but I just couldn't get over the writing.
Item Posts
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@zoearabella completed #anthem... on 2015-01-12
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@zoearabella began #anthem... on 2015-01-12
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@ginadavidson completed #anthem... on 2013-02-26
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@hstewart completed #anthem... on 2015-09-14
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@hstewart began #anthem... on 2014-09-14