Atlas ShruggedI have no idea where to begin with Atlas Shrugged. Several of my friends have raved about it for years; I did not really feel the need to read it until I picked up another Ayn Rand novel, The Fountainhead, which I absolutely adored. But, alas, that is another review in and of itself. After reading the first chapter of Atlas, I knew right away that this intense story would be one of the best books I have ever laid my hands on. After taking almost a month and a half to finish it (which is quite long for me; I'm quite a quick reader), I have decided that it earns the title of the BEST book I have ever read, period. Now that I have given you incredibly high expectations, here is a little about the novel.
Atlas Shrugged is perhaps Ayn Rand's greatest accomplishment of her philosophy, Objectivism, and her wonderful ability to tell a story. Objectivism is a philosophy created by Rand that ultimately praises a capitalistic world, and love for one's self and the individual. So coming in at one-thousand pages plus, it is quite a lot to take on. This massive story centers around an attractive woman named Dagny who co-owns a railroad company with her brother. This company is Dagny's love and passion in life; she is a woman who lives for production, success, and living for herself and her own happiness. Her brother, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. He clearly represents everything that Ayn Rand believes is foul and disgusting in this world; he is basically a moral parasite. Throughout the story we see this clear distinction of character, not only between brother and sister, but among the myriad of other characters that pop up as well.
Reading the rest of the story, you get personally involved with the struggles of Dagny, her lover Hank, and how they deal with the decline of the state of the economy, government, and humans as a whole. In the very first chapter you are introduced to the phrase "Who is John Galt?" Everybody says it, but nobody clearly knows what it means; it is basically a phrase that is saying, "What is the point of asking? Why does it matter?" We do not fully understand how this phrase is important until we get towards the middle of the book, however, it is a key element to the story. Also, it is exciting to finally learn what this question is all about; now when you are driving around and see somebody with a "Who is John Galt?" bumper sticker, you can finally understand what it means. Then you wave to the person and give them a well deserved nod.
I do not want to give a single thing away because that is enjoyment of this book: twists and turns at every corner, fantastic speeches, a wonderful development of characters, and points in the story that will make you cry. I can honestly say that the night that I finished I had goosebumps, and Harry Potter has been the only other story to have that effect on me. Not only does the book sum up my philosophy on life, it is everything I would ever want in a story. I cannot express enough how much love I have for this book. If this were the Bachelor, it would definitely get my last rose.
This book will make you feel as you have never felt before. You will want to wake up in the morning and decide that you want to built a railroad, or that you feel the need to create your own brand of cigarettes. Also you will begin to realize that the sign of the dollar is not one to be ashamed of. It represents the hard work, production, and self-worth of man. And best of all, it will show you how living for others and never for
yourself only destroys your existence.
I really hope that I did this book justice. That being said, I highly encourage every one of you readers to pick up this book. Don't be scared by its length, because reading it is definitely one of the best times I have ever had in my entire life. If you are frightened by the fact that is massive, then I understand. Go pick up The Fountainhead or Anthem first, then come back to it. Both are great novels by Rand that are good introductions to Atlas Shrugged.
Read it. Read it. Read it.
Also, while I am on the Atlas theme, let's talk about body ink!
Prongs is an Atlas fanatic as well, so we decided to get "matching" tattoos on our collar bones. I will have the chapter title from Atlas entitled " I. Atlantis" and Prongs will be getting "XIII. By Our Love." And of course it will be in pretty script writing! Anyway that's our idea, and we hope to get them this summer.