Ok. Just finished Anthem by Ayn Rand on LibriVox. It’s a short little novel by her that a friend of mine suggested to me. I know how famous of an author she is. I also know what a huge following she has as well. People who like her work totally f#&king swear by it. Perhaps I wasn’t introduced to her work via her best book but I don’t find myself being the biggest fan.
Let me start off by saying I enjoyed the premise and the set up. A dystopian society were the self has been utterly erased. In this society the natural ego of man has been so robbed from the people that they have inexplicable (to them) night terrors as they sleep in communal barracks at the quarters of their respective occupations. I also like that the book is written in the imagined vernacular of the main character. I also liked how easy it was for one outlier to break the rules once they realized they developed their own will. That was all on point in my opinion.
The problem I had with the story is the large jumps that are made. Someone who is lacking in any education at all sudden understands how to make a light and how to decipher the meaning of long forgotten words through just a little short self study. Big jumps in character development make sense in certain stories where the imagined environment sets up the possibility for such things but in Anthem the exact opposite was done. The main character went from knowing nothing about anything other than street sweeping to being a freaking inventor just by studying a broken light bulb. Come on now. What? The same goes for the Golden One who follows our main character. She suddenly understands love and leaves the community with him from just brief meetings. Ma’am, you lost me there. It has a natural and fated romantacism about it but beyond that it isn’t believable in the story given how low their knowledge of things like love and self awareness are.
All in all, I love the premise and the set up but like the Russian judge I found the execution lacking. But that’s just me.