Anthem by Ayn Rand Part 2

Come on! This guy has no concept of individuality. He is telling the story. He is literally wishing that he was more like the others. Why would he say something insulting like that? He wouldn’t is the point, which is why the sentence is jarring. The whole story is jarring because at every turn there’s a point that is stomped home. This character continuously shows perspective far beyond his experience, and out of the context with what he is conveying, because Rand wants to make sure the point is heard.

For example, he ventures off on his own and reinvents electricity. Then it’s rejected by the establishment, which is non-democratic and brutalistic. And of course, they are the only people who get a singular pronoun in being called, “The Old Ones.”

So he’s gone out and he desires to bring electricity to the people, with the specific desire of bringing them light. Get it, like Prometheus.  Are you sure you get it? Ayn Rand d0esn’t think you’ve got it. So he escapes with a female, finds a house with a library, reads some books and decides to give himself a new name. Guess what the name is!

Prometheus. Get it?!

Still though, Ayn Rand isn’t sure you get it.

So she ends the book with an emphasized word, “EGO.” Which, you will already know but be told again, is what Prometheus of the myth carved into rock.

I am quite good at suspending my disbelief, and for the most part an author’s personal proclivities aren’t going to stop me from enjoying a work. But you really do have to agree with this to like it. Not just agree, but like its specific tone and gesturing. Because I agree that a collectivist society without technology living among ruins sounds like it’s awful, but there’s no story here. There’s propaganda. Which is really disappointing.

I honestly don’t think it matters what your politics are in terms of reading this. This doesn’t function as a story. It’s jolted philosophy. And there’s value to it, in reference to the ideas of the time and the ideas it opposed. It’s just difficult to read a story where the author has so much antipathy for a character’s state of development that she skips it.

Orwell fought in the trenches during the Spanish Civil War (and wrote the brilliant Homage to Catalonia about it). He saw firsthand there, and in Burma, what fascism could do. So if he can restrain himself enough to write an allegory about fascism, that also functions as a nicely fleshed out story about farm animals, Rand has no excuse.

And I’m feeling pedantic after reading Anthem, so if you didn’t get it I was talking about Animal Farm above. You know, by Orwell. That guy I was talking about. Who fought in The Spanish Civil War. He wrote a book about it called…

You get the idea.