Published by Plume on 1999
Genres: Classics, Fiction, General, Psychological, Science Fiction
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Anthem has long been hailed as one of Ayn Rand's classic novels, and a clear predecessor to her later masterpieces, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. In Anthem, Rand examines a frightening future in which individuals have no name, no independence, and no values. Equality 7-2521 lives in the dark ages of the future where all decisions are made by committee, all people live in collectives, and all traces of individualism have been wiped out. Despite such a restrictive environment, the spark of individual thought and freedom still burns in him--a passion which he has been taught to call sinful. In a purely egalitarian world, Equality 7-2521 dares to stand apart from the herd--to think and choose for himself, to discover electricity, and to love the woman of his choice. Now he has been marked for death for committing the ultimate sin. In a world where the great
Obviously, Anthem by Ayn Rand is a diatribe against collectivism. Ayn Rand expounds on the importance of syntax, the meaning of we vs. I. Essentially, this book is about a man named Equality 7-2521, who is a free-thinker.
Anthem begins by describing the society in which Equality 7-2521 lives. People start their lives by living in a home for babies, then they go to school, then a council decides upon their vocations at the age of 15. Oh and once a year they have what is known as the “day of mating.”
It is a crime to have thoughts which are different from the thoughts of others (thought-police anybody?).
Anyways, Equality 7-2521 falls in love, makes some discoveries, and decides he is more important than the State. Along the way, many philosophical lessons are learned.
This certainly isn’t the worst dystopian novel I’ve read, but it isn’t the best either. I can definitely see the appeal to younger readers with a burgeoning interest in philosophy. At the age of 15, you probably would want to read something a little more accessible than The Republic by Plato, so this book would most likely come across as a more desirable read.
To be honest, I really do think Anthem by Ayn Rand owes a lot to The Republic. Much like the Republic, children never find out who their parents are, so as to break the filial bond. Also, the members of the society described within Anthem are pretty much kept in the dark, much like Plato’s cave. These people are tricked into believing there is no technology. Some leave the cave, some don’t. Some see it as their obligation to help others leave the cave, some don’t. Overall, I really think what did enhance this book for me was having read The Republic previously, and taking a class on Ancient and Medieval Political Thought/Philosophy, it really helped to clarify what ideals Ayn Rand was trying to express in her novel.