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4.2 out of 5 stars
Anthem (Penguin Modern Classics)
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 3 May 2010
Anthem sits quite nicely with other dystopian books that pit the individual against a collectivist state such as Yevgeny Zamyatin's We and George Orwell's 1984. In common with those other novels the central character becomes self aware and finds love with a woman. Love being the emotion felt by one individual for another that is neither shared with the collective nor has any utility that could benefit the collectivist state (as such love is disparaged by the state in all 3 of these novels). The other common theme between these 3 stories is that the central character feels the need to reject the society in which they live. However, what separates Anthem from the others is that it is a simple story of an awakening self. The other two show what is at stake by destroying the central character by pitting them against an all powerful all conquering state. We and 1984 show the consequence of allowing the state to be truly totalitarian. The state in Anthem however, is rather pathetic in compassion; it is all too easy for Equality 7-2521 to run away. The state threatens but it only succeeds in its threats if the victim is somewhat complicit in their own punishment. Equality 7-2521 has it too easy. This does not mean that Anthem is in any way second rate in comparison to We and 1984, only that it explores the idea of what is good about individual by arguing that real joy comes from individual achievement or through feelings that cannot be shared equally amongst all men. You might perhaps be tempted to think that the novel promotes selfish pride as a virtue and this is true to an extent, however the novel is intended to be a simple hymn to the self and does not concern it itself with perils of a totalitarian state in the way that We and 1984 do. Anthem is just the unashamed enjoyment of a cog in a state machine realising their own individuality and nothing more.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 14 July 2007
While this novella is set in a dark time and place in the not-so-distant future, it glows with such beauty that I come close to rapture whenever I re-read it.

It's hard to believe that Russian-born Ayn Rand was struggling with English not so much earlier. The poetic writing style is so exactly right for the story that it is inconceivable that is could have been written in any other way. The airiness of this style gave way, in later novels, to a disciplined, ponderous one.

The plot involving a young couple rebeling against socialistic conformity is so daring in the philosophical context of its time (and in the present) that many people will find it inspiring.

This is a youthful, confident Ayn Rand. The intransigence would appear later.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 24 July 2013
I must admit that with this book I found the writing style a little difficult to understand at first.

However, once I grasped the concept of using the collective 'we' rather than ever using the word 'I' I began to enjoy the storyline.

One thing I liked about this book is that the story was simplistic. Maybe Ayn Rand kept the storyline simple because she guessed people may have trouble getting the writing style around their heads but by the end of the book, looking back on all the events that happened, everything made sense.

I personally have never read a classic novel like this one before and found it quite enjoyable by the end. I am still going to stick to my favourite genres (Dystopian, Young Adult, etc) but this was a nice change from the usual books that I read.

I would highly recommend this book if you're looking for a little break or a pleasant change in your normal reading style!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 3 August 2013
Bought this alongside Atlas Shrugs for my daughter to take with her to Uni, she loves it. Rand's writings warning of the dangers of all kinds of collectivism are as valid today as they were in the wake of the communist take over of Russia more so as they collectivists never went away after the fall of the Berlin wall and the liberation of eastern EUrope. They merely rebranded themselves as socialists and social "democrats" and greens and environmentalists.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 August 2010
Reasons to read this? File alongside "Brave New World" and "1984", as all three texts were written within 20 years of each other. In this dystopia, singular personal pronouns are banned and personal freedom, space and liberty are anathema to the people of the future. The narrator makes a positive discovery and there is promise of better to come. Rand comments on the power of language to change and shape society; a prescient point given today's circumstances.
In this allegory, Rand appears to criticise collectivism and she has been accused of being fascist. I'm not sure. Rand was a refugee who fled the Soviet Union; just because she criticises communism, does that make her automatically the polar opposite? Huxley is critical of society in his book and Orwell, the arch-socialist, is critical of collectivism in his text. The power of the individual is a staple of our culture and forms the basis of much SF; from "Star Trek" to "Dr Who", from H.G. Wells to Iain M. Banks, the individual is celebrated and collectivism frowned on, be it through the daleks or the dark side or some evil empire; you get the picture. This is an important story for two reasons: a) it is an example of timeless SF and b) it introduces us to objectivism.
It is also very short. A recommended read, then, whether or not you subscribe to Rand's philosophy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 17 May 2011
This was my first Ayn Rand novel, and I wasn't sure how I'd like it, having previously seen The Fountainhead as a movie, and found it powerful but quite opaque.

However one sees the world; power to the individual or power to the state, the story is engrossing, a journey of redemption for a man whose only sin is to be different.

It follows the life of young Equality 7-2521, who, like all others in his world, speaks of himself in the third person plural. He is exceptionally observant and slyly witty.
He is also an inventor who challenges the status quo not only with his ideas but also his extreme height. At six feet he is literally a victim of the 'tall poppy' syndrome, and is punished for standing out.

As in the best dystopian stories, there is light, and possibly love in the gloom... but I'll say no more of the plot...

The thing which made this book so gripping for me was the beautiful way it was written. I found the voice so poetic and clues to his transformation were given as much in the language as the story.

Highly recommended, if only to sample this legendary author and see what the fuss is about.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Equality 7-2521 who speaks of himself in the first person plural makes a few discoveries that lead him to rethink the nature and purpose of man.

I will not go through this short story blow by blow, as the fun in this book is to discover what Equality 7-2521 discovers. Would you draw the same conclusion or follow the same course? You will find yourself kibitzing and cringing.

"You are what your deep, driving desire is. As your desire is, so is your will. As your will is, so is your deed. As your deed is, so is your destiny." (Brihadaranyaka IV.4.5)

For the person that is new to Ayn Rand this is as good place to start, as any and it will be an eye opener. If you have the time to read "Atlas Shrugged" the concepts, thoughts, and speeches are more complete.

Pro or con, you cannot afford to pass this book. You may be surprised to find that you are surrounded by Objectivists.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
This is my first Ayn Rand book and knowing she is a strong philosophical writer I wasn't sure that her writing would be my thing. Anthem is a short novella so an easy introduction to Rand's work. The story is set in a future dystopian society where collectivism and socialism rule.

The writing style is unusual and Rand reflects the collectivism of the society through the use of 'we' to describe the first person. There is no individual, no 'I'. Everyone works for the common good, there is no choice and no freedom of thought. Talents and passions are quashed and everything is very tightly controlled by the "Council".

I find dystopia very interesting and enjoy reading about people who rebel and break free of the constraints of the dystopian society. Anthem does not disappoint. A very unusual and enjoyable book, highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 16 May 2014
Ego, individualism, objectivity. The features that s not taken good in some cultures and societies. But after having read the book by Ayn Rand, you may change your life perspective forever. Everything s start by first respecting yourself and loving yourself. only than you can energize your peer group, family, close friends, and the society you live in. There s nothing fearful to say `I am`.
So powerful book that i already decide to read the whole Ayn RAnd s anthology.
Highly recommended to every sensible people who cares and concerns for the well being of future of our siblings,
We have to understand the messages Rand had given us decades ago in order not to deteriorate the nature, resources we have been gifted. In order to end the never ending political challanges that s taking the wonderful world into chaos.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 September 1999
I had to read this book for English in 10th grade and I would just like to say that I loved it. In this book, the word "I" does not exist. When I first started reading and the narrator was referring to himself as "we," I was so dis oriented. I finally figured out what he meant and I remember thinking that it was like he didin't even know the Word "I" and it hit me really hard then- he wasn't even taught the word. This book was a lot like The Giver, but I liked this one better, because they were not even allowed to be human and that was more real for me.
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