20 April 2009

Rand Shrugged

I think this is rich: suddenly, out of the woodwork, suddenly, thanks to the recession, everyone is becoming a fan of Ayn Rand's masterpiece "Atlas Shrugged." It is so bizarre that her 1957 novel should, 52 years later, be "discovered" by the masses, after decades of influencing thinkers around the world. (A 1991 survey conducted by the Library of Congress found it to be to second most influential book in the United States.)

My first brush with Rand (pictured) came about 30 years ago -- when I was going through my "I want to be an architect" phase and found out about "The Fountainhead." I knew it was about an architect, but when I started to read it I just wasn't ready. So, several years later, while recovering from my first back injury, I found it on my book shelf.

Wow! What a novel! An architect insists on doing things his way, building his way; and, when his work is corrupted, blows it to smithereens. I love it! It's hard to put into words just what this book meant to me then and still does today. I was hooked, and went out and bought every book on or by Rand -- including, of course "Atlas Shrugged."

Long ago I stopped reading novels, focusing only on biographies and histories. However, there are two novels I read every few years: "The Fountainhead" and "Atlas Shrugged."

"Atlas Shrugged" is about as close to a bible as I have ever found that I can believe in. It is about the freedom to do as you choose as long as that choice does not interfere with the desire of others to do as they choose. It speaks of a world free from government intrusion, from rules and regulations that stifle creativity, where people are judged by the deeds they accomplish, not by how needy or corrupt they are. It is, in effect, the description of a utopian world where one does the right things because those are the right things to do -- not because someone is forcing them to do them. It is very difficult to sum up the power of Rand's works. They must really be read to be appreciated for their true power.

And what would Rand think about all this renewed attention? I think she would just shrug and say "I knew it would happen." She was smart that way.

You can read an article here that just came out about the renewed influence of "Atlas Shrugged." You can read about the novel here, and more about Rand herself here.

You can purchase the novel here.

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