Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

May 18, 2011

Synopsis (from the publisher): Published in 1957, Atlas Shrugged was Ayn Rand’s greatest achievement and last work of fiction. In this novel she dramatizes her unique philosophy through an intellectual mystery story that integrates ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, politics, economics, and sex.

Set in a near-future U.S.A. whose economy is collapsing as a result of the mysterious disappearance of leading innovators and industrialists, this novel presents an astounding panorama of human life-from the productive genius who becomes a worthless playboy…to the great steel industrialist who does not know that he is working for his own destruction…to the philosopher who becomes a pirate…to the woman who runs a transcontinental railroad…to the lowest track worker in her train tunnels.

Peopled by larger-than-life heroes and villains, charged with towering questions of good and evil, Atlas Shrugged is a philosophical revolution told in the form of an action thriller.

Note: I read approximately 50 percent of this book before tossing it aside in a fit of “life’s too short for this bullshit” rage. This was my second attempt at reading Atlas Shrugged, and though I got a bit farther along this time than last, I just simply cannot ever imagine a scenario in which I actually finish the thing.

Warning: Spoilers below!

Liked:

  • The non-political, non-business stuff was terrific. Rand has some intriguing characters here, and their personal dramas were fun to follow. I especially liked Dagny and Hank’s relationship, and am kind of curious as to what happens to them. Not curious enough to finish the book, to be sure, but enough to want to look up the answer somewhere.
  • I like and agree with Rand’s general philosophy regarding capitalism and the role of government.

Disliked:

  • OMG, the book is sooooo long and repetitive that I simply couldn’t bear the thought of having to read another page. I honestly cannot figure out how this book rates so highly with modern readers. Look, I know I’ve read a lot more popular fiction/bestsellers in recent years than anything that would truly be considered thought-provoking, but I assure you that a larger sampling of my reading background would show that I have devoured more than my fair share of the classics. I have often had to struggle to get through well-regarded books (ahem, Middlemarch, I’m looking at you), but I could at least understand why others liked the work. I just don’t see it with Atlas Shrugged. I loved The Fountainhead; but my god, this one could have used a good editor. Though I didn’t finish it, I find it hard to believe that Rand couldn’t have gotten her point across in a fraction of the number of pages she used.

Rating:

In theory, I should have loved Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I believed in everything she said, and I liked the characters she used as her mouthpiece. But the presentation was godawful, in my very, very humble opinion, and overwhelmed whatever positive aspects there might have been. Since I couldn’t even finish the book, I give it 0 stars out of 5 — and remain completely baffled as to why this title is consistently voted the best piece of modern literature out there. Ugh.

One Response to “Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand”

  1. Did you happen to see the very-recent movie? 🙂

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