Sunday, November 06, 2005

Atlas Shrugged

I finally finished Atlas Shrugged on the way back from Ireland. At 1,069 pages with a really really small font – it was a long read.

It was interesting, a bit dated perhaps. The references to an affair as being something hugely damaging to a women (one of the big themes) isn’t so relevant today as it might have been when the book was written in the 1950’s. So, if you allow for that bit of poetic license it all fit together.

It was a good read – I’d recommend it for the purpose of reading it, but didn’t really believe the story line. Maybe it was just a tad too polarized for me, you were either on the Robin Hood side (the evil side in the book – total redistribution of wealth) or the business side – profit good, charity bad. As with everything in life, the answer probably lies not at either end point but somewhere in the middle. But maybe that is why it makes a good (if not long) read – it makes you think.

I did like the characters for the most part and could identify people in real life I’d associate each of them with. I feel confident that if you read this – you’ll associate most of the individual characters in the book with someone you know or some public personality you feel you know.

Who is John Galt indeed. I think I liked his character least of all. He is portrayed as the hero – but I thought he was a bit weak. He was the first to quit society and convince others to join him over the course of many years. I couldn’t help but think “what if they all stayed and tried to work for change instead of running away”.

It would be a good book to discuss but it is hard to sum up in short. In the end, the “good” guys win of course – but I didn’t like their approach. It did make the female character stand out as the one with the strongest character though – being the only one to really stick in there with the rest of society until the very end.
POST A COMMENT

11 Comments:

Blogger Rachel said....

I've been waiting to discuss this one with you! I agree that it is definitely a "black and white" sort of structure of the world, there's no in between. I don't think she wrote this to be a story, with crafted characters though, it sounds more like a lesson to be learned

I've always sort of identified myself with the Eddie character -- admiring and supportive of those who have the ability, without necessarily having it myself.

One thing in the book that resonated with me when I first read it, and which I still believe in, is the idea that genius is not jealous. Those of true ability can admire and learn from one another, can support each other, without ego. There's no need to tear down someone else just because they don't agree with you.

Hm, sounds a LOT like the concept behind the OakTable Network. And definitely sounds a lot like every Oakie I've met. And I've met most of them :)

Sun Nov 06, 08:26:00 PM EST  

Blogger Shuchi said....

I prefer Ayn Rand’s earlier works ‘We The Living’ and ‘The Fountainhead’, in which she presents her philosophy of Objectivism in a milder, more realistic form. Still, it was a thought-provoking read and I admired it for its imaginative plot and powerful writing.

One big grouse is that at the slightest provocation, the characters burst into long-winded lectures - Francisco’s Money Speech, for example, and John Galt’s radio broadcast , which runs into 57 pages!!

Mon Nov 07, 08:56:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Megan said....

Agree with Shuchi - The Fountainhead is more realistic. Even though it is dated as far as a time period goes, it is a fascinating read and it's easy to draw parallels to current life. Read that one twice - highly recommend it. Atlas is much more extreme.

Mon Nov 07, 09:20:00 AM EST  

Blogger Joel Garry said....

In case you ever wondered what Senator Joseph McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Alan Greenspan, illegal immigrants in Los Angeles and extramarital affairs had in common...

Mon Nov 07, 10:00:00 AM EST  

Blogger Niall said....

One wonders what an Anerican writer born in the depression era and who emigrated to the Soviet Union might have made of capitalism..

Mon Nov 07, 03:41:00 PM EST  

Blogger melanie caffrey said....


Niall said ...

One wonders what an Anerican writer born in the depression era and who emigrated to the Soviet Union might have made of capitalism..



In 1935 Frances Farmer, an American-born actress, wrote and won a high-school essay entitled "God Dies".

She won a trip to the Soviet Union, working for a leftist paper.

This, of course, led to accusations that she was an atheist and a Communist.

I really don't believe her writings specifically had to do with endorsing or denying capitalism, per se.

If fact, if you read her essay, it smacks very much of socialism.

Ayn Rand in America and Frances Farmer in the Soviet Union.

Each of them was where they needed to be, to further their point.

Mon Nov 07, 05:07:00 PM EST  

Blogger Scott Swank said....

I've yet to find an objectivist who wants someone else's toxic waste dump seeping into their ground water. Pity that's where the underpinning of objectivism have left us. Laissez fair capitalism and self interest indeed.

Wed Nov 09, 04:44:00 PM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Niall said ...

One wonders what an Anerican writer born in the depression era and who emigrated to the Soviet Union might have made of capitalism..


It's rather likely he would haved ended up in Gulag and we never heard of his opinion...
At least that's what happened to scores of enthusiasts that came to USSR during 20s and 30s.

Thu Nov 10, 01:39:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Raman Batra said....

I read Atlas Shrugged when I was in my late teens, and was initiated into her works by a cousin sister of mine who was a very very strong person.


The interesting outcome was...most of my classmates who read Ayn Rand in their teens were affected one-way of other...most became recluses for some time.

When I became an Oracle DBA and eventually an architect, one part of my brain always used to think of me as Howard Roark..needless to say - I didn't break anything, other than migrate from the mainframe to Oracle systems.

The theory of objectivism is fascinating and now as I manage a team very used to working in a black and white world - I gently coach them with a Star Wars quote " Only a Sith believes in absolutes"..LOL..

Cheers,
R Batra

Mon Nov 14, 11:16:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Dear Tom,
"Who is John Galt indeed. I thought he was a bit weak. He was the first to quit society

...It did make the female character stand out as the one with the strongest character though – being the only one to really stick in there ..."

I read this book 20 years back, when I was in college in India (lots of folks in colleges read this out there). What I understood then was that it was a story about "what would happen if the realy good folks abandoned tis world of incompetents". Sort of anti-communist (fits Rand's background also).

Anyway, 20 years later, I am inclined to just simply say: Ayn Rand who?

It's too black and white, as someone rightly said here - there is lot of importance in the grey areas of life.

Fri Dec 23, 07:45:00 AM EST  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

There are no gray areas. A is A. You can try to lie to yourself and fool yourself into thinking otherwise, but whether you want it to or not, A is still A.

The characters are not weak, society is weak. The characters are strong in bucking that which holds them down instead of inscribing with your Lemming's attitude.

The only reason Objectivism is thought of as an impractical ideology is that the majority people of this country are so used to free handouts that they couldn't stand having to survive solely on their own ability.

Thu Jun 19, 04:12:00 PM EDT  

POST A COMMENT

<< Home