A Masterpiece novella by Ayn Rand! It’s always an absolute pleasure to read anything by Ayn Rand. Having read mammoth Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, Anthem felt like a such a short one! Nonetheless, Ayn Rand doesn’t disappoint! Her words, though written decades ago, still hold true and will still inspire many more future generations!
The book was first published in 1937 and Ayn’s revised edition was published in U.S. in 1946. I read the 1995 50th Anniversary Edition in which the Appendix has Ayn’s handwritten editorial changes!
So, about the book.. It’s small yet so powerful! It’s a Dystopian novel, set in some future era, where there is no concept of ‘Individualism’. People live in community homes, have no names, no identity and after 16 years of living like this, the Council decides what should they do for the rest of their lives.
Equality 7-2521 is one such man, who has been assigned to do road sweeping. There’s no ‘I’, ‘Me’ or ‘My’ in their world. The human race is governed by collective thought of ‘We’, ‘Us’ and ‘Our’s’. The apocalyptic future gives all importance to Collective rather than an individual. They have to think about the ‘brotherhood’. He is made to believe that this life is the best for him but he is unhappy!
One day, he escapes into Unchartered Forest and finds the freedom and his existence so fascinating. It’s overwhelming when while looking for meaning of things, he realises he is the meaning! He finds books with the word ‘I’ in them. And he finds the ‘Golden One’ (the female) and he cannot stop himself from falling in love with them. And he gets new meaning for his existence!
It makes you think everyone cannot do everything and everyone has an individual aspect as well as a social aspect. You are an individual of the society. My plain words cannot do justice to what Ayn has put in the novel! Every single line is amazing (Well, I am an Ayn Rand fan ). If you are someone who was always scared to pick up Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged just because of you the number of pages, Anthem is for you! If you haven’t read anything by her, this will give you a taste of her writing world!
Some quotes :
“The word “We” is as lime poured over men, which sets and hardens to stone, and crushes all beneath it, and that which is white and that which is black are lost equally in the grey of it. It is the word by which the depraved steal the virtue of the good, by which the weak steal the might of the strong, by which the fools steal the wisdom of the sages.
What is my joy if all hands, even the unclean, can reach into it? What is my wisdom, if even the fools can dictate to me? What is my freedom, if all creatures, even the botched and impotent, are my masters? What is my life, if I am but to bow, to agree and to obey?
But I am done with this creed of corruption.
I am done with the monster of “We,” the word of serfdom, of plunder, of misery, falsehood and shame.
And now I see the face of god, and I raise this god over the earth, this god whom men have sought since men came into being, this god who will grant them joy and peace and pride.
This god, this one word: