Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Anthem - Ayn Rand

Another Librivox recording.

This is my first taste, so to speak, of Rand's work. And it was interesting, unnerving and better than I thought.

Official summary:

Anthem is a dystopic science fiction story taking place at some unspecified future date. Mankind has entered another dark age as a result of what Rand saw as the weaknesses of socialistic thinking and economics. Technological advancement is now carefully planned (when it is allowed to occur, if at all) and the concept of individuality has been eliminated (for example, the word “I” has disappeared from the language). As is common in her work, Rand draws a clear distinction between the “socialist/communal” values of equality and brotherhood and the “productive/capitalist” values of achievement and individuality. The story also parallels Stalinist Russia, which was currently going on at the time as the story was published. (Summary from Wikipedia)

This book is written as the diary of Equality 7-2521, a young man who is just one of the hundreds of folks churned out by the new "mankind". No one is an individual, people refer to themselves as "We" since everything they do or think should encompass everyone. People are punished for merely thinking or acting in an individual way. A frightening future that takes an incredible step backwards. No electricity, only candles. No books, unless you are deemed a Scholar. Folks are given their vocation that they will keep for the rest of their lives, provided they live past 40. Once a person hits 40, they are regulated to the home of the useless to die or become an ancient (if you made it to 45).

The reading of Anthem was very good with some unexpected pauses.

Summary of Anthem
Project Gutenberg

It is a sin to write this.  It is a sin to think words no others think and to put them down upon a paper no others are to see.
It is base and evil. It is as if we were speaking alone to no ears but our own.
And we know well that there is no transgression blacker than to do or think alone.
We have broken the laws. The laws say that men may not write unless the Council of Vocations bid them so. May we be forgiven!"
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