Atlas Shruggedby Ayn Rand
"This is the story of a man who said that he would stop the motor of the world - and did. Was he a destroyer or the greatest of liberators? Why did he have to fight his battle, not against his enemies, but against those who needed him most, and his hardest battle against the woman he loved? What is the world's motor - and the motive power of every man? You will know… See more details below
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"This is the story of a man who said that he would stop the motor of the world - and did. Was he a destroyer or the greatest of liberators? Why did he have to fight his battle, not against his enemies, but against those who needed him most, and his hardest battle against the woman he loved? What is the world's motor - and the motive power of every man? You will know the answer to these questions when you discover the reason behind the baffling events that play havoc with the lives of the characters in this story." "Tremendous in its scope, this novel presents an astounding panorama of human life - from the productive genius who becomes a worthless playboy - to the great steel industrialist who does not know that he is working for his own destruction - to the philosopher who becomes a pirate - to the composer who gives up his career on the night of his triumph - to the woman who runs a transcontinental railroad - to the lowest track worker in her Terminal tunnels." This is a mystery story, not about the murder of a man's body, but about the murder - and rebirth - of man's spirit. It is a philosophical revolution, told in the form of an action thriller of violent events.
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by Ayn Rand
by Leonard Peikoff
Ayn Rand is one of America's favorite authors. In a recent Library of Congress/Book of the Month Club survey, American readers ranked Atlas Shruggedher masterworkas second only to the Bible in its influence on their lives. For decades, at scores of college campuses around the country, students have formed clubs to discuss the works of Ayn Rand. In 1998, the Oscar-nominated Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life, a documentary film about her life, played to sold-out venues throughout America and Canada. In recognition of her enduring popularity, the United States Postal Service in 1999 issued an Ayn Rand stamp.
Every book by Ayn Rand published in her lifetime is still in print, and hundreds of thousands of copies of them are sold every year, so far totaling more than twenty million. Why?
Ayn Rand understood, all the way down to fundamentals, why man needs the unique form of nourishment that is literature. And she provided a banquet that was at once intellectual and thrilling.
The major novels of Ayn Rand contain superlative values that are unique in our age. Atlas Shrugged (1957) and The Fountainhead (1943) offer profound and original philosophic themes, expressed in logical, dramatic plot structures. They portray an uplifted vision of man, in the form of protagonists characterized by strength, purposefulness, integrityheroes who are not only idealists, but happy idealists, self-confident, serene, at home on earth. (See synopses later in this guide.)
Ayn Rand's first novel, We the Living (1936), set in thepost-revolutionary Soviet Union, is an indictment not merely of Soviet-style Communism, but of any and every totalitarian state that claims the right to sacrifice the supreme value of an individual human life.
Anthem (1946), a prose poem set in the future, tells of one man's rebellion against an utterly collectivized world, a world in which joyless, selfless men are permitted to exist only for the sake of serving the group. Written in 1937, Anthem was first published in England; it was refused publication in America until 1946, for reasons the reader can discover by reading it for himself.
Ayn Rand wrote in a highly calculated literary style intent on achieving precision and luminous clarity, yet that style is at the same time colorful, sensuously evocative, and passionate. Her exalted vision of man and her philosophy for living on earth, Objectivism, have changed the lives of tens of thousands of readers and launched a major philosophic movement with a growing impact on American culture.
You are invited to sit down to the banquet which is Ayn Rand's novels. I hope you personally enjoy them as much as I did.
About the Books
Atlas Shrugged (1957) is a mystery story, Ayn Rand once commented, "not about the murder of man's body, but about the murderand rebirthof man's spirit." It is the story of a manthe novel's herowho says that he will stop the motor of the world, and does. The deterioration of the U.S. accelerates as the story progresses. Factories, farms, shops shut down or go bankrupt in ever larger numbers. Riots break out as food supplies become scarce. Is he, then, a destroyer or the greatest of liberators? Why does he have to fight his battle, not against his enemies but against those who need him most, including the woman, Dagny Taggart, a top railroad executive, whom he passionately loves? What is the world's motorand the motive power of every man?
Peopled by larger-than-life heroes and villains, and charged with awesome questions of good and evil, Atlas Shrugged is a novel of tremendous scope. It presents an astounding panorama of human lifefrom the productive genius who becomes a worthless playboy (Francisco d'Anconia)to the great steel industrialist who does not know that he is working for his own destruction (Hank Rearden)to the philosopher who becomes a pirate (Ragnar Danneskjold)to the composer who gives up his career on the night of his triumph (Richard Halley). Dramatizing Ayn Rand's complete philosophy, Atlas Shrugged is an intellectual revolution told in the form of an action thriller of violent eventsand with a ruthlessly brilliant plot and irresistible suspense.
We do not want to spoil the plot by giving away its secret or its deeper meaning, so as a hint only we will quote here one brief exchange from the novel:
"If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater the effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulderswhat would you tell him to do?"
"I don't know. What could he do? What would you tell him?"
often plays on cable TV and at art-house cinemas, where it is always received enthusiastically.
embraced the movie. Five months after its release, Mussolini's government figured out what everyone else knew, and banned the movie. This is eloquent proof of Ayn Rand's claim that the book is not merely "about Soviet Russia."
After the war, the movie was re-edited under Ayn Rand's supervision. The movie is still played at art-house cinemas, and is now available on videotape.
Anthem (1946), a novelette in the form of a prose poem, depicts a grim world of the future that is totally collectivized. Technologically primitive, it is a world in which candles are the very latest advance. From birth to death, men's lives are directed for them by the State. At Palaces of Mating, the State enacts its eugenics program; once born and schooled, people are assigned jobs they dare not refuse, toiling in the fields until they are consigned to the Home of the Useless.
This is a world in which men live and die for the sake of the State. The State is all, the individual is nothing. It is a world in which the word "I" has vanished from the language, replaced by "We." For the sin of speaking the unspeakable "I," men are put to death.
Equality 7-2521, however, rebels.
Though assigned to the life work of street sweeper by the rulers who resent his brilliant, inquisitive mind, he secretly becomes a scientist. Enduring the threat of torture and imprisonment, he continues in his quest for knowledge and ultimately rediscovers electric light. But when he shares it with the Council of Scholars, he is denounced for the sin of thinking what no other men think. He runs for his life, escaping to the uncharted forest beyond the city's edge. There, with his beloved, he begins a more intense sequence of discoveries, both personal and intellectual, that help him break free from the collectivist State's brutal morality of sacrifice. He learns that man's greatest moral duty is the pursuit of his own happiness. He discovers and speaks the sacred word: I.
Anthem's theme is the meaning and glory of man's ego.
Ayn Rand held that philosophy was not a luxury for the few, but a life-and-death necessity of everyone's survival. She described Objectivism, the intellectual framework of her novels, as a philosophy for living on earth. Rejecting all forms of supernaturalism and religion, Objectivism holds that Reality, the world of nature, exists as an objective absolutefacts are facts, independent of man's feelings, wishes, hopes, or fears; in short, "wishing won't make it so." Further, Ayn Rand held that Reasonthe faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by man's sensesis man's only source of knowledge, both of facts and of values. Reason is man's only guide to action, and his basic means of survival. Hence her rejection of all forms of mysticism, such as intuition, instinct, revelation, etc.
On the question of good and evil, Objectivism advocates a scientific code of morality: the morality of rational self-interest, which holds Man's Life as the standard of moral value. The good is that which sustains Man's Life; the evil is that which destroys it. Rationality, therefore, is man's primary virtue. Each man should live by his own mind and for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor others to himself. Man is an end in himself. His own happiness, achieved by his own work and trade, is each man's highest moral purpose.
In politics, as a consequence, Objectivism upholds not the welfare state, but laissez-faire capitalism (the complete separation of state and economics) as the only social system consistent with the requirements of Man's Life. The proper function of government is the original American system: to protect each individual's inalienable rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.
Objectivism defines "art" as the re-creation of reality according to an artist's metaphysical value-judgments. The greatest school in art history, it holds, is Romanticism, whose art represents things not as they are, but as they might be and ought to be.
The fundamentals of Objectivism are set forth in many nonfiction books including: For the New Intellectual; The Virtue of Selfishness; Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal; Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution; Philosophy: Who Needs It; and The Romantic Manifesto. Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, written by Ayn Rand's intellectual heir Leonard Peikoff and published in 1991, is the definitive presentation of her entire system of philosophy.
ABOUT AYN RAND
Ayn Rand was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on February 2, 1905. At the age of nine, she decided to make fiction-writing her career. In late 1925 she obtained permission to leave the USSR for a visit to relatives in the United States. Arriving in New York in February 1926, she first spent six months with her relatives in Chicago before moving to Los Angeles.
On her second day in Hollywood, the famous director Cecil B. De Mille noticed her standing at the gate of his studio, offered her a ride to the set of his silent movie The King of Kings, and gave her a job, first as an extra and later as a script reader. During the next week at the studio, she met an actor, Frank O'Connor, whom she married in 1929; they were happily married until his death fifty years later.
After struggling for several years at various menial jobs, including one in the wardrobe department at RKO, she sold her first screenplay, "Red Pawn," to Universal Studios in 1932 and then saw her first play, Night of January 16th, produced in Hollywood and (in 1935) on Broadway. In 1936, her first novel, We the Living, was published.
She began writing The Fountainhead in 1935. In the character of Howard Roark, she presented for the first time the Ayn Rand hero, whose depiction was the chief goal of her writing: the ideal man, man as "he could be and ought to be." The Fountainhead was rejected by a dozen publishers but finally accepted by Bobbs-Merrill; it came out in 1943. The novel made publishing history by becoming a best-seller within two years purely through word of mouth; it gained lasting recognition for Ayn Rand as a champion of individualism.
Atlas Shrugged (1957) was her greatest achievement and last work of fiction. In this novel she dramatizes her unique philosophy of Objectivism in an intellectual mystery story that integrates ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, politics, economics, and sex. Although she considered herself primarily a fiction writer, she realized early that in order to create heroic characters, she had to identify the philosophic principles which make such people possible. She proceeded to develop a "philosophy for living on earth." Objectivism has now gained a worldwide audience and is an ever growing presence in American culture. Her novels continue to sell in enormous numbers every year, proving themselves enduring classics of literature.
Ayn Rand died on March 6, 1982, at her home in New York City.
Recollections of Ayn Rand
A Conversation with Leonard Peikoff, Ph.D.,Ayn Rand's longtime associate and intellectual heir
Dr. Peikoff, you met Miss Rand when you were seventeen and were associated with her until her death, thirty-one years later. What were your first impressions of her? What was she like?
The strongest first impression I had of her was her passion for ideas. Ayn Rand was unlike anyone I had ever imagined. Her mind was utterly first-handed: she said what no one else had ever said or probably ever thought, but she said these things so logicallyso simply, factually, persuasivelythat they seemed to be self-evident. She radiated the kind of intensity that one could imagine changing the course of history. Her brilliantly perceptive eyes looked straight at you and missed nothing: neither did her methodical, painstaking, virtually scientific replies to my questions miss anything. She made me think for the first time that thinking is important. I said to myself after I left her home: "All of life will be different now. If she exists, everything is possible."
In her fiction, Ayn Rand presented larger-than-life heroesembodiments of her philosophy of rational egoismthat have inspired countless readers over the years. Was Ayn Rand's own life like that of her characters? Did she practice her own ideals?
Yes, always. From the age of nine, when she decided on a career as a writer, everything she did was integrated toward her creative purpose. As with Howard Roark, dedication to thought and thus to her work was the root of Ayn Rand's person.
In every aspect of life, she once told me, a man should have favorites. He should define what he likes or wants most and why, and then proceed to get it. She always did just thatfleeing the Soviet dictatorship for America, tripping her future husband on a movie set to get him to notice her, ransacking ancient record shops to unearth some lost treasure, even decorating her apartment with an abundance of her favorite color, blue-green.
Given her radical views in morality and politics, did she ever soften or compromise her message?
Never. She took on the whole worldliberals, conservatives, communists, religionists, Babbitts and avant-garde alikebut opposition had no power to sway her from her convictions.
I never saw her adapting her personality or viewpoint to please another individual. She was always the same and always herself, whether she was talking with me alone, or attending a cocktail party of celebrities, or being cheered or booed by a hall full of college students, or being interviewed on national television.
Couldn't she have profited by toning things down a little?
She could never be tempted to betray her convictions. A Texas oil man once offered her up to a million dollars to use in spreading her philosophy, if she would only add a religious element to it to make it more popular. She threw his proposal into the wastebasket. "What would I do with his money," she asked me indignantly, "if I have to give up my mind in order to get it?"
Her integrity was the result of her method of thinking and her conviction that ideas really matter. She knew too clearly how she had reached her ideas, why they were true, and what their opposites were doing to mankind.
Who are some writers that Ayn Rand respected and enjoyed reading?
She did not care for most contemporary writers. Her favorites were the nineteenth century Romantic novelists. Above all, she admired Victor Hugo, though she often disagreed with his explicit views. She liked Dostoevsky for his superb mastery of plot structure and characterization, although she had no patience for his religiosity. In popular literature, she read all of Agatha Christie twice, and also liked the early novels of Mickey Spillane.
In addition to writing best-sellers, Ayn Rand originated a distinctive philosophy of reason. If someone wants to get an insight into her intellectual and creative development, what would you suggest?
A reader ought first to read her novels and main nonfiction in order to understand her views and values. Then, to trace her early literary development, a reader could pick up The Early Ayn Rand, a volume I edited after her death. It features a selection of short stories and plays that she wrote while mastering English and the art of fiction-writing. For a glimpse of her lifelong intellectual development, I would recommend the recent book Journals of Ayn Rand, edited by David Harriman.
Ayn Rand's life was punctuated by disappointments with people, frustration, and early poverty. Was she embittered? Did she achieve happiness in her own life?
She did achieve happiness. Whatever her disappointments or frustrations, they went down, as she said about Roark, only to a certain point. Beneath it was her self-esteem, her values, and her conviction that happiness, not pain, is what matters. I remember a spring day in 1957. She and I were walking up Madison Avenue in New York toward the office of Random House, which was in the process of bringing out Atlas Shrugged. She was looking at the city she had always loved most, and now, after decades of rejection, she had seen the top publishers in that city competing for what she knew, triumphantly, was her masterpiece. She turned to me suddenly and said: "Don't ever give up what you want in life. The struggle is worth it." I never forgot that. I can still see the look of quiet radiance on her face.
Fiction in Paperback
Anthem (New York: Signet, 1961).
Atlas Shrugged (New York: Signet, 1959).
The Fountainhead (New York: Signet, 25th anniv. ed., 1968).
Night of January 16th (New York: Plume, 1987).
We the Living (New York: Signet, 1960).
Nonfiction in Paperback
Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (New York: Signet, 1967).
The Early Ayn Rand: A Selection from Her Unpublished Fiction
(New York: Signet, 1986).
For the New Intellectual (New York: Signet, 1963).
Philosophy: Who Needs It (New York: Signet, 1964).
Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution (New York:
The Romantic Manifesto (New York: Signet, 2nd rev. ed., 1971).
The Virtue of Selfishness (New York: Signet, 1984).
On Ayn Rand and Objectivism
The Ayn Rand Reader, edited by Gary Hull and Leonard Peikoff
(New York: Plume, 1999).
Journals of Ayn Rand, edited by David Harriman (New York:
Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, by Leonard Peikoff
(New York: Meridian, 1993).
- What and where is the "utopia of greed"?
- Why does Dagny Taggart, a woman of ruthless logic who passionately loves life, chase a mysterious stranger's plane in her own plane when she knows it will lead to her virtually certain death?
- Why do Dagny Taggart and Lillian Reardenboth highly affluent womenfight over a cheap metallic bracelet? Who gets to keep the bracelet, and at what cost? What is Lillian's real motive in trapping her husband Hank in infidelity?
- Why does Francisco d'Anconia, heir to the greatest fortune in the world and a productive genius with boundless ambition, seek ever more outrageous ways to destroy his own business empire? Why does he turn into a playboy who forsakes the woman he loves and instead seduces prominent women who are of no interest to him?
- When an entire country tells them that their railroad bridge, constructed from a new ultralight metal, won't stand under the onrush of a speeding train, why are Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden so confident that it will? Were you convinced by the arguments offered against them by their opponents? Whom did you side with? Why?
- According to Atlas Shrugged, selfishness is both moral and practical. What does Ayn Rand mean by "selfishness"? Compare the actions and character of James Taggart, Hank Rearden, Orren Boyle, and Francisco d'Anconia: Who is selfish and who is not? Can you present arguments for or against Ayn Rand's view of selfishness? Contrast Ayn Rand's approach with that of the ethics of Christianity.
- What basic motive unites people who brag about their sexual promiscuity and people who demand economic handouts from the government?
- Explain the meaning and wider significance of the following quote from Atlas Shrugged: "The words 'to make money' hold the essence of human morality." Explain what ideas underlie the maxim that "money is the root of all good."
- Capitalism is often defended by appeal to the "public good"; that is, solely because its economic efficiency benefits society. Contrast this with Ayn Rand's defense of capitalism, as dramatized in Atlas Shrugged.
- When Roark comes uninvited to Dominique's bedroom in his rough, soiled workman's clothes, is the act that he commits rape? Why or why not?
- Why does Gail Wynand, a self-made media and real-estate millionaire, seek to turn men into hypocrites? Why does he make a socialist defend management and a conservative defend labor?
- Why does the struggling sculptor Steven Mallory attempt to gun down a famous newspaper columnist who champions the voiceless and the undefended?
- Why does Peter Keating, a celebrity architect, plead with his unsuccessful and widely condemned friend, Hoard Roark, secretly to design a crucial housing project for him? Roark is an architect of unmatched integrity who scorns Keatingso why does he agree to do it?
- Howard Roark refuses a major contract when he most needs it, arguing that his action was "the most selfish thing you've ever seen a man do." Why does he call this action selfish?
- Why does Roark dynamite Cortlandt Homes? How does he defend his action? Is he a moral man, a practical man, both, or neither?
- Both Howard Roark and Lois Cook are artists with a unique vision who are not accepted by the mainstream of society. What does Ayn Rand mean by "individualism"? Are they both individualists? Why or why not?
- What does Ayn Rand mean by the terms "first-hander" and "second-hander"? Cite examples of each type from real life.
We the Living
- When Kira Argounova, the novel's heroine, meets Leo Kovalensky, a handsome stranger who thinks she is a whore, why does she not correct him?
- The Communist war hero and much feared secret police agent Andrei Taganov is a pure proletarian, completely devoted to the Party's cause. Why then does he lose respect for the Partyand why does he fall in love with Kira?
- In a society that outlaws profit, what secret business deal does Leo, an aristocrat, make with Pavel Syerov, an important Communist? Why? Who profits from it?
- How does the discovery by the secret police of one article of clothing in Leo's room set the course for the resolution of the story?
- Although Communism's ideal state, the USSR, has collapsed, many Communists are still undeterred: they argue that Communism is good in theory but was misapplied by Stalin in practice. By reference to events in We the Living, what arguments can you present in response to such a position? How would Ayn Rand respond?
- We the Living shows that under Communism the poor become much poorer. Some would argue that Communism fails the downtrodden because human nature is "not good enough." How would Ayn Rand respond to this? Where does she place the blame for the misery wrought by Communism?
- In a world that places the good of society above all else, why is a man with a revolutionary invention that would benefit everyone forced to run for his life?
- Why is the hero willing to risk being burned at the stake in order to discover the meaning of "the unspeakable word"?
- As fires ravaged the cities of the world at the close of the Unmentionable Times, what crucial values did men lose? What was gained or lost at the Dawn of the Great Rebirth of society?
- What does Equality 7-2521 discover in the Uncharted Forest that removes his original dread of the place?
- Compare the expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden with the story of Equality 7-2521. For what "sins" were each condemned? In what ways are Equality 7-2521 and Adam similar? How do they differ?
- Anthem is set in a totalitarian future. But unlike the societies depicted in Orwell's 1984 and Huxley's Brave New World, Anthem presents a future in which candles and glazed windows are the latest advances. What point about technology was Ayn Rand making by portraying such a primitive future, and how do the events of the story establish that point?
- For each of the following quotations, explain its role in the story and its wider significance:
a) "It is a sin to write this. It is a sin to think words no others think."
b) "I wished to know the meaning of things. I am the meaning."
c) "I owe nothing to my brothers, nor do I gather debts from them."
- What is meant by "selfishness," according to Objectivism? What is "sacrifice," and is it moral? How is Objectivism's approach to good and evil justified?
- Reason, says Ayn Rand, is man's only means of knowledge. What is her definition of "reason"? Why does she reject people who claim that they can reach the truth by means of intuition, revelation, instinct, or extrasensory perception?
- Happiness, holds Ayn Rand, is the normal condition of man. What does she mean by "happiness"? What is required to be happy? Compare Roark and Keating from The Fountainhead: Which one was happy? Why?
- Emotions, according to Objectivism, are consequences of the ideas and values one holds. Use Objectivism's theory of emotions to explain the romantic-sexual feelings of James Taggart, of Francisco d'Anconia, and then of yourself.
- Individual rights for Objectivismas for the Founding Fathersare the basic principles that should guide government. How does Ayn Rand define a "right"? Why does she reject the idea of a right to healthcare? Why does she reject both socialism and anarchy?
- Capitalism, argues Objectivism, is the only moral social system. Explain this by reference to Objectivism's standard of right and wrong. Can you think of arguments against Ayn Rand's reasoning on this issue? How do you think she might reply to your arguments?
- Why does Ayn Rand think that art is crucial? What is her favorite school of art? Why?
What People are saying about this
Meet the Author
Ayn Rand was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on February 2, 1905. At age six she taught herself to read and two years later discovered her first fictional hero in a French magazine for children, thus capturing the heroic vision which sustained her throughout her life. At the age of nine she decided to make fiction writing her career. Thoroughly opposed to the mysticism and collectivism of Russian culture, she thought of herself as a European writer, especially after encountering Victor Hugo, the writer she most admired.
During her high school years, she was eyewitness to both the Kerensky Revolution, which she supported, and—in 1917—the Bolshevik Revolution, which she denounced from the outset. In order to escape the fighting, her family went to the Crimea, where she finished high school. The final Communist victory brought the confiscation of her father's pharmacy and periods of near-starvation. When introduced to American history in her last year of high school, she immediately took America as her model of what a nation of free men could be.
When her family returned from the Crimea, she entered the University of Petrograd to study philosophy and history. Graduating in 1924, she experienced the disintegration of free inquiry and the takeover of the university by communist thugs. Amidst the increasingly gray life, her one great pleasure was Western films and plays. Long an admirer of cinema, she entered the State Institute for Cinema Arts in 1924 to study screenwriting.
In late 1925 she obtained permission to leave Soviet Russia for a visit to relatives in the United States. Although she told Soviet authorities that her visit would be short, she was determined never to return to Russia. She arrived in New York City in February 1926. She spent the next six months with her relatives in Chicago, obtained an extension to her visa, and then left for Hollywood to pursue a career as a screenwriter.
On Ayn Rand's second day in Hollywood, Cecil B. DeMille saw her standing at the gate of his studio, offered her a ride to the set of his movie The King of Kings, and gave her a job, first as an extra, then as a script reader. During the next week at the studio, she met an actor, Frank O'Connor, whom she married in 1929; they were married until his death fifty years later.
After struggling for several years at various nonwriting jobs, including one in the wardrobe department at the RKO Radio Pictures, Inc., she sold her first screenplay, "Red Pawn," to Universal Pictures in 1932 and saw her first stage play, Night of January 16th, produced in Hollywood and then on Broadway. Her first novel, We the Living, was completed in 1934 but was rejected by numerous publishers, until The Macmillan Company in the United States and Cassells and Company in England published the book in 1936. The most autobiographical of her novels, it was based on her years under Soviet tyranny.
She began writing The Fountainhead in 1935. In the character of the architect Howard Roark, she presented for the first time the kind of hero whose depiction was the chief goal of her writing: the ideal man, man as "he could be and ought to be." The Fountainhead was rejected by twelve publishers but finally accepted by the Bobbs-Merrill Company. When published in 1943, it made history by becoming a best seller through word-of-mouth two years later, and gained for its author lasting recognition as a champion of individualism.
Ayn Rand returned to Hollywood in late 1943 to write the screenplay for The Fountainhead, but wartime restrictions delayed production until 1948. Working part time as a screenwriter for Hal Wallis Productions, she began her major novel, Atlas Shrugged, in 1946. In 1951 she moved back to New York City and devoted herself full time to the completion of Atlas Shrugged.
Published in 1957, Atlas Shrugged was her greatest achievement and last work of fiction. In this novel she dramatized her unique philosophy in an intellectual mystery story that integrated ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, politics, economics and sex. Although she considered herself primarily a fiction writer, she realized that in order to create heroic fictional characters, she had to identify the philosophic principles which make such individuals possible.
Thereafter, Ayn Rand wrote and lectured on her philosophy—Objectivism, which she characterized as "a philosophy for living on earth.". She published and edited her own periodicals from 1962 to 1976, her essays providing much of the material for six books on Objectivism and its application to the culture. Ayn Rand died on March 6, 1982, in her New York City apartment.
Every book by Ayn Rand published in her lifetime is still in print, and hundreds of thousands of copies are sold each year, so far totalling more than twenty million. Several new volumes have been published posthumously. Her vision of man and her philosophy for living on earth have changed the lives of thousands of readers and launched a philosophic movement with a growing impact on American culture.
Leonard Peikoff is universally recognized as the pre-eminent Rand scholar writing today. He worked closely with Ayn Rand for 30 years and was designated by her as her intellectual heir and heir to her estate. He has taught philosophy at Hunter College, Long Island University, and New York University, and hosted the national radio talk show "Philosophy: Who Needs It."
- Date of Birth:
- February 2, 1905
- Date of Death:
- March 6, 1982
- Place of Birth:
- St. Petersburg, Russia
- Place of Death:
- New York, New York
- Graduated with highest honors in history from the University of Petrograd, 1924
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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It is a decent read, one that people should read at one point or another. You will either love it, or hate it, there are very few of us in between-ers. Much like Catcher in the Rye, there are those who will be offended, and those who will take it up as their personal dogma. Personally, I found it enjoyable, but that's about it. Where I do have a problem is the price of this and all Ayn Rand ebooks, they are higher priced than their hardcover counterpart. That's just ridiculous. I'd suggest picking this up from the library. If you fall into the 'love it' group, you'll have your own copy soon. If you fall into the 'hate it' category, you haven't spent anything, and you can check off one of the 'books you should read at one time or another' list.
The first time I ever heard of this book was about 10 years ago. I never gave it much thought, but over time it would cross my path and finally before Christmas 2009 I picked it up at BN. I now realize that had I read this book 10 years ago (I would have been 18), I never would have appreciated what this book offers. Someone in another review wrote how this book has changed their life and how they look at things. Let me assure you, that was not a lie. Ayn Rand is an amazing author whose vision and philosophy is woven throughout the fabric of this book. I have been found reading this book in sandwich shops, coffee shops, airports, etc. and it amazes me the people that stop by when they see you are reading this book. I've had 2-minute conversations and 20-minute conversations about the concepts, philosophy and principles shared in this book. You can interpret the premise of this book in any way you would like. I even had someone tell me that this is "The Republican Handbook." I mean no offense to any political party, but to affiliate this work with any political agenda is not only an insult to Ms. Rand, but providing too much credit to any political official and his/her party. Do you ever sit in frustration as you watch those around you literally take no accountability for their actions or explain failure as an act of God? Do you wonder where the principles of work ethic, honor, integrity, the love, passion, pride and desire to be the best and to give your absolute best in everything you do; the foundation that this country was built upon has gone? Have you found yourself wondering why people refuse to think?! If you're looking for a "beach read" to take yourself away from reality and not "think" for a while, then I would not recommend this book. If you want answers to questions you've always asked or to find the questions you never knew to ask about life and purpose, then please buy this, or let me know and I'll let you borrow/have mine. If you want to read something that will stay with you for a while; if you want to read something that will challenge you to examine yourself and your virtues, then please buy this book. This book is my all time favorite and I am already looking forward to a few years down the road, picking it back up and re-reading it again (the highest compliment to any author).
I read The Fountainhead while a junior in High School, in '66 and loved it, and tried to get into Atlas Shrugged three or four times, but just didn't have a noggin sufficiently developed to deal with it. Now I am thoroughly into it, being about 60 and having experienced alot of stuff in life. So I recently bought a hardcopy edition, knowing I'll be using it alot. I just wish someone would publish a large print, two volume edition! People should approach Atlas Shrugged as a work of fiction by a person with a very strong philosophical bent, who is using the various devices of fiction novel writing to convey her ideas. In other words, don't think of it as a great work of fiction . . .she has bent all those devices to serve her purposes in laying out her ideas. So focus on the points she makes. Underline and take notes. It will change you! I think people assume that Ayn Rand presented her philosophy solely with the intention of striking a chord in the best minds, the most intelligent, among us. Actually, she intended it to appeal to anyone who has a functioning brain, anyone who is capable of optimizing their use of reason. Hey, that includes me! How about you? We may not be the intellectual cream of the crop, but we can think and live great productive lives. We can read and study Atlas Shrugged and benefit from it. Also, let me suggest that one need not be an atheist to grasp Ayn Rand's philosophy. God made man with the capacity to reason, and I am sure He would be delighted if we would commit ourselves to getting better at it. He knows we would be much happier just by using the brains He gave us! Yes, God must hate collectivist thinking, pc, and all the Doom and Gloom crowd has to offer us today.
Everytime I think I have a handle on your E Book pricing something like the Ayn Rand book comes along. The Nook is great but why should we download books for more than the material sells for at BJ's or Costco????? You guys should really review your pricing!!!!!!
I can not believe that you would charge more for the e book than you would for the paper back.
I love the novel; it is one of my all-time favorites. However, this eBook was clearly scanned from a printed source and sold directly without any sort of proofing. Each page has one or two errors. They are usually insignificant, but occasionally you will need to re-read a segment to determine the meaning of a sentence. Even the minor mis-scans jarringly pulled me out of the story. I have more of an editing-geared mind, so I'm sure some readers won't be as bothered. My hardcover (the Centennial Edition), has none of these typos. Was this 1992 edition not printed from a digital source? These errors would be entirely forgivable (although still likely fixed with updates) from Project Gutenberg, but not in a copy that costs as much as the paperback.
Ayn Rand may have given us the best work of fiction of the 20th Century. She doesn't have the body of work of Hemingway or Bellow, but with Atlas Shrugged she gave us the single most important piece of literature from 1900 to 1999. Atlas Shrugged addresses the single most important question of the 20th Century: democracy vs. tyranny/capitalism vs. scoialism. What each one of us believes is our choice, but Rand gives us a good example of what can go wrong when we take altruism to its ridiculous extremes. Unlike Hemingway's man vs. nature examples Rand presents us with the ultimate problem, man vs. man, capitalism vs. the virtue-less socialistic beliefs of the anti John Galt crowd.
I would love to read Atlas Shrugged and the main reason I have a nook is to read books like this one; books that are much too large to carry around wherever you go. It's very disappointing that this is the only version of Atlas Shrugged available for nook and it is so ridiculously priced. I hope to come back and write a true review once B&N has lowered the price of this book to what it could be bought for in the store.
Charging more for the paperback than the Nook? Where's the benefit of the Nook especially when you've just lowered the price of the Nook.
The Print is SOOO Small the sentences all run together it makes it impossible to read. I Love This Book but not this edition. Save yourself the time and order an upgrade copy.
I am a true beleiver that if all people read this book the world would be a much better place to live. Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand are incredibly complex and this book should be read carefully. If you are an altruist you are going to hate this book, but you already hate reality so much it wouldn't do you much good anyways. Rand constructs probably the most involved fictional story ever written. Throughout the book she addresses topics such as politics, indiviudalism, love, selfishness, religion, and much more. This book is cited as the second most influential book behind the bible, it would be the first if as many people had read it.
A word of caution, Rand's personal life violated her own philosophy and a person probably should be aware of this fact. Not a book that is completely grasped on one read either.
On the suggestion of someone else, I picked up a copy of this book about six months ago. I have read it twice and each time it had a profound impact on me.
This book is simply the story of Capitalism being overcome by Socialism, the idea of "fair" and "right" being what is best for others who need but don't earn, and the fight against that by the movers of the world.
Before I read this book, I wasn't really sure where I stood. I liked the idea of free markets, but also liked the idea of taking care of others. Rand, in this work, pointed out to me the ugly side of socialism that plenty of folks prefer to keep hidden. This is the side of socialism and communism that toppled the Soviet Union, and Rand brought it into the US.
Now, more than ever, is the time for people to read this work and understand what Rand was saying. Never before has a book of any type changed my outlook on the world. This one did.
Ayn Rand's prophecy for America is coming true today. Reading this book, written by a person who comes from Post Revolution Russia, written in the 50s is like reading the headlines of today's papers.
She captures the true essence of how liberalism destroys economic process and breaks man's ability and desire to succeed. Too bad we don't have a John Galt to right things today!
Who is John Galt?
You will have to read the book to find out.
I definitely recommend this book. It's over a thousand pages so plan it for a weekend or a long plane trip.
When I saw this I immediately went to purchase as I have an old paperback copy but wanted the NC version; and I thought - great - $5.95 - I get another ebook and B&N gets additional business with me touting their Nook Color to everyone I meet. BUT NOOOOOOOO ... the ebook is $18.95!!!! Way to go B&N - best way to loose customers and good will. At least make both the ebook and the paperback the same price - what are you thinking?
Almost twice the price of paperback for an ebook? Save your money and purchase the paperback until the publisher wakes up!
Rand's writings are as topically and socially relevant in 2009 as they were 50 years ago...if not moreso. If this novel were written today, it would be excoriated by the media, but celebrated by conservatively-minded, logical thinkers. Part of the beauty of Atlas Shrugged today is the very fact that so much time has elapsed since she penned this story. It underscores the enduring nature of the philosophical debate between so-called "progressive thinking" and the "libertarian philosophical" point of view. This should be required reading for anyone just entering adulthood, or for those already there. The issues she addresses are clearly and objectively delineated. Atlas Shrugged not only entertains, but makes you think.
If you've ever wanted to read a book that lifted you up while it disgusts you, this is the book for you. The characters are such that it is imperative that you either love or hate them immediately. Every time I've read this book it inspires me to become a better person while simultaneously making me feel as if I am a complete sell-out. It's easy to admire these uncompromising characters and try to act like them, but in the real world it is difficult to do so without giving up our comforts. Every politician in the world should read this book and shudder at their ineptitude.
This is my fourth or fifth read of this book the first when I was in college some forty years ago. It is more appropriate now than ever before in my lifetime with the government reaching out to socialize just about every aspect of our lives. Our very own president (Stanley Mauch?) is an advocate of redistribution of wealth. Slowly Atlas is beginning to shrug and we'll all be looking for the rise of John Galt. Truly a fascinating and classic book worthy of the true reader's attention.
This book used to be required reading for many decades. I am younger and it was not required to be read in high school. I kept hearing people talking about this book during the 2008 election so I decided to invest my time in this book and I was not disappointed! Ayn Rand was a genius! She saw first hand, the effects of socialism and fasism and wrote this book as a warning. It transcends the ages. You won't be disappointed!
Who is John Galt haunts you the entire novel even if you can guess who he is. The impact of his decisions stays with you as you watch the evening news and you wonder how or if this could really be an outcome for the world. All the characters have a major role in the novel from Darcy to John to Hank Reardon and the John Gault Line. The innovation coming from Ayn Rand in the 1950's from a socialist escape bring to the forefront the reality of what could happen to our country. We have so much going for us and Ms Rand shows how easily we could loose it. Free enterprise is so precious when you are deprived of it, as Ms. Rand shows. For all readers you must start wth an open mind and take the novel as it progresses. Food for thought is that there are political science courses in colleges and universities that study this novel and are based on ideas that it brings forth. It in no way reads like a college study but it grips you and makes you think. I could not put it down. A classic for all to read even if you do not agree with or have ever heard of Objectivism. Inever had before reading Atlas Shrugged but have followed up with adding Fountainhead to my library. I truly recommend this novel for all who like a good story and especially those who want to think.
Too expensive when it can be had for free.
Ayn Rand's prescient novel is a must read for every American. Her character development is only out done by the foreboding description of what is happening in the US today. Not even Cuffy Meigs or James Taggert could have come up with the "making work pay" tax of the Obama administration. While her characters are mythical in the sense that few men could acheive thier level of purity and consciousness, it is men like these that created this country. Unfortunately, it is only the looters who are given power by the weak majority, that can take it down too. We are witnessing this before our eyes and must wake up before the last scene in thebook comes true! Require your children read this book. And most importantly get the true meaning of it. This can be done in readin the "about theauthor" section.
Why would I spend $18.99 for this when I can borrow the ebook of Atlas Shrugged and read it on my Nook for FREE through my public library?
How does an electronic file EVER cost more than an actual book? If this had a standard profit margin it would cost about $2.00
This was going to be my first Nook purchase, but for this price I'll have to wait!