Thursday, 21 November 2013

Atlas Shrugged - Book Review

Author: Ayn Rand
First Published: 1957

Volumes have been spoken and written on Atlas Shrugged. Numerous accolades have been shared upon it. But that is the case with many other fictions too, right? What is so different about this book?

Atlas Shrugged sows as a philosophy into the neural networks of readers who more than realise the philosophies presented by Ayn Rand and the false beliefs on which civilised society is premised. There have been institutions set around the principles articulated in this book. However, it has also been renounced by many who think that this book binds the reader into a world of greed and self righteousness which spells evil.

Atlas Shrugged is the story of a man who decides to stop the motor of the world. He does not fight against his enemies, but rather the people who need him the most. He fights against the woman he loves, because that is the cost to stand for your ideologies. What was he trying to achieve? The story is based upon a lot of philosophies surrounding individualism. The basic paradigm on which Atlas Shrugged revolves is that – only independent people can chose to be interdependent.

Albeit not an actual sequel of Ayn Rand's previous novel “The Fountainhead”, the story does follow the philosophies of individualism a step further in Atlas Shrugged. The story goes into the depth of what is the actual essence of being in a society and where does individualism stand in such scenarios. The book starts off with the query “Who is John Galt?” By the end of the book, you come to know who he is, what his principles are and what he stands for. If you find the perceptive in this book accordant, Atlas Shrugged has the power to transform you into a different person altogether. It challenges your ideologies on the true nature and essence of society.

The story revolves around remarkable characters, a philosopher who chooses to be a pirate, an industrial genius who becomes a worthless playboy, a music composer who leaves his career on the night of his greatest triumph, a brilliant steel tycoon who is on the way to his own destruction and the vice president of the biggest railroad corporation in the world work as a rail road labourer. They do all these on their own accord to make the world realise the importance of individual contribution to build a society. The story is too wide and the philosophies just astounding and all of it has been presented as a fiction.

The conversations between it's characters are enlightening and give you a way of thinking on a different perspective. This is a book that had brought about one of the biggest philosophical revolutions in the world. The coining of the term objectivism as a social dogma was followed with the reception of Atlas Shrugged by the masses. 

This is a must read book. You may be all in for the ideologies explained or abdicate its principles sensing a hint of greed, but you cannot leave the book and stop thinking over its theories.

Here is what some other great minds had to say about the book.

Paul Krugman (Nobel Prize winner of economics, 2008) - “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

Edward Younkins (Writer) - “The story may be simultaneously described as anachronistic and timeless. The pattern of industrial organization appears to be that of the late 1800s - the mood seems to be close to that of the depression-era 1930s. Both the social customs and the level of technology remind one of the 1950s.

Ludwig von Mises (Austrian school economist) - “...Atlas Shrugged is not merely a novel. It is also (or may I say: first of all) a cogent analysis of the evils that plague our society, a substantiated rejection of the ideology of our self-styled "intellectuals" and a pitiless unmasking of the insincerity of the policies adopted by governments and political parties...

And finally, this is what Ayn Rand wanted to tell about her work - “not about the murder of man's body, but about the murder - and rebirth - of man's spirit

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