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Boomer Books
Anthem / Edition 1

Anthem / Edition 1

by Ayn Rand
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Anthem is a dystopian fiction novella by Russian-American writer Ayn Rand, written in 1937 and first published in 1938 in the United Kingdom. The story takes place at an unspecified future date when mankind has entered another Dark Age. Technological advancement is now carefully planned and the concept of individuality has been eliminated. A young man known as Equality 7-2521 rebels by doing secret scientific research. When his activity is discovered, he flees into the wilderness with the girl he loves. Together they plan to establish a new society based on rediscovered individualism.

Rand originally conceived of the story as a play, then decided to write for magazine publication. At her agent's suggestion, she submitted it to book publishers. The novella was first published by Cassell in England. It was published in the United States only after Rand's next novel, The Fountainhead, became a best seller. Rand revised the text for the US edition, which was published in 1946. Source: Wikipedia

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781434100351
Publisher: Boomer Books
Publication date: 07/30/2008
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 68
Sales rank: 595,814
Product dimensions: 0.16(w) x 6.00(h) x 9.00(d)

About the Author

Ayn Rand


Born Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum, she was best known for her philosophy of Objectivism and her novels We the Living, Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged.

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

Read an Excerpt


By Ayn Rand


Copyright © 2014 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4804-7699-8


It is a sin to write this. It is a sin to think words no others think and to put them down upon a paper no others are to see. It is base and evil. It is as if we were speaking alone to no ears but our own. And we know well that there is no transgression blacker than to do or think alone. We have broken the laws. The laws say that men may not write unless the Council of Vocations bid them so. May we be forgiven!

But this is not the only sin upon us. We have committed a greater crime, and for this crime there is no name. What punishment awaits us if it be discovered we know not, for no such crime has come in the memory of men and there are no laws to provide for it.

It is dark here. The flame of the candle stands still in the air. Nothing moves in this tunnel save our hand on the paper. We are alone here under the earth. It is a fearful word, alone. The laws say that none among men may be alone, ever and at any time, for this is the great transgression and the root of all evil. But we have broken many laws. And now there is nothing here save our one body, and it is strange to see only two legs stretched on the ground, and on the wall before us the shadow of our one head.

The walls are cracked and water runs upon them in thin threads without sound, black and glistening as blood. We stole the candle from the larder of the Home of the Street Sweepers. We shall be sentenced to ten years in the Palace of Corrective Detention if it be discovered. But this matters not. It matters only that the light is precious and we should not waste it to write when we need it for that work which is our crime. Nothing matters save the work, our secret, our evil, our precious work. Still, we must also write, for—may the Council have mercy upon us!—we wish to speak for once to no ears but our own.

Our name is Equality 7-2521, as it is written on the iron bracelet which all men wear on their left wrists with their names upon it. We are twenty-one years old. We are six feet tall, and this is a burden, for there are not many men who are six feet tall. Ever have the Teachers and the Leaders pointed to us and frowned and said:

"There is evil in your bones, Equality 7-2521, for your body has grown beyond the bodies of your brothers." But we cannot change our bones nor our body.

We were born with a curse. It has always driven us to thoughts which are forbidden. It has always given us wishes which men may not wish. We know that we are evil, but there is no will in us and no power to resist it. This is our wonder and our secret fear, that we know and do not resist.

We strive to be like all our brother men, for all men must be alike. Over the portals of the Palace of the World Council, there are words cut in the marble, which we repeat to ourselves whenever we are tempted:


We repeat this to ourselves, but it helps us not.

These words were cut long ago. There is green mould in the grooves of the letters and yellow streaks on the marble, which come from more years than men could count. And these words are the truth, for they are written on the Palace of the World Council, and the World Council is the body of all truth. Thus has it been ever since the Great Rebirth, and farther back than that no memory can reach.

But we must never speak of the times before the Great Rebirth, else we are sentenced to three years in the Palace of Corrective Detention. It is only the Old Ones who whisper about it in the evenings, in the Home of the Useless. They whisper many strange things, of the towers which rose to the sky, in those Unmentionable Times, and of the wagons which moved without horses, and of the lights which burned without flame. But those times were evil. And those times passed away, when men saw the Great Truth which is this: that all men are one and that there is no will save the will of all men together.

All men are good and wise. It is only we, Equality 7-2521, we alone who were born with a curse. For we are not like our brothers. And as we look back upon our life, we see that it has ever been thus and that it has brought us step by step to our last, supreme transgression, our crime of crimes hidden here under the ground.

We remember the Home of the Infants where we lived till we were five years old, together with all the children of the City who had been born in the same year. The sleeping halls there were white and clean and bare of all things save one hundred beds. We were just like all our brothers then, save for the one transgression: we fought with our brothers. There are few offenses blacker than to fight with our brothers, at any age and for any cause whatsoever. The Council of the Home told us so, and of all the children of that year, we were locked in the cellar most often.

When we were five years old, we were sent to the Home of the Students, where there are ten wards, for our ten years of learning. Men must learn till they reach their fifteenth year. Then they go to work. In the Home of the Students we arose when the big bell rang in the tower and we went to our beds when it rang again. Before we removed our garments, we stood in the great sleeping hall, and we raised our right arms, and we said all together with the three Teachers at the head:

"We are nothing. Mankind is all. By the grace of our brothers are we allowed our lives. We exist through, by and for our brothers who are the State. Amen."

Then we slept. The sleeping halls were white and clean and bare of all things save one hundred beds.

We, Equality 7-2521, were not happy in those years in the Home of the Students. It was not that the learning was too hard for us. It was that the learning was too easy. This is a great sin, to be born with a head which is too quick. It is not good to be different from our brothers, but it is evil to be superior to them. The Teachers told us so, and they frowned when they looked upon us.

So we fought against this curse. We tried to forget our lessons, but we always remembered. We tried not to understand what the Teachers taught, but we always understood it before the Teachers had spoken. We looked upon Union 53992, who were a pale boy with only half a brain, and we tried to say and do as they did, that we might be like them, like Union 5-3992, but somehow the Teachers knew that we were not. And we were lashed more often than all the other children.

The Teachers were just, for they had been appointed by the Councils, and the Councils are the voice of all justice, for they are the voice of all men. And if sometimes, in the secret darkness of our heart, we regret that which befell us on our fifteenth birthday, we know that it was through our own guilt. We had broken a law, for we had not paid heed to the words of our Teachers. The Teachers had said to us all:

"Dare not choose in your minds the work you would like to do when you leave the Home of the Students. You shall do that which the Council of Vocations shall prescribe for you. For the Council of Vocations knows in its great wisdom where you are needed by your brother men, better than you can know it in your unworthy little minds. And if you are not needed by your brother man, there is no reason for you to burden the earth with your bodies."

We knew this well, in the years of our childhood, but our curse broke our will. We were guilty and we confess it here: we were guilty of the great Transgression of Preference. We preferred some work and some lessons to the others. We did not listen well to the history of all the Councils elected since the Great Rebirth. But we loved the Science of Things. We wished to know. We wished to know about all the things which make the earth around us. We asked so many questions that the Teachers forbade it.

We think that there are mysteries in the sky and under the water and in the plants which grow. But the Council of Scholars has said that there are no mysteries, and the Council of Scholars knows all things. And we learned much from our Teachers. We learned that the earth is flat and that the sun revolves around it, which causes the day and the night. We learned the names of all the winds which blow over the seas and push the sails of our great ships. We learned how to bleed men to cure them of all ailments.

We loved the Science of Things. And in the darkness, in the secret hour, when we awoke in the night and there were no brothers around us, but only their shapes in the beds and their snores, we closed our eyes, and we held our lips shut, and we stopped our breath, that no shudder might let our brothers see or hear or guess, and we thought that we wished to be sent to the Home of the Scholars when our time would come.

All the great modern inventions come from the Home of the Scholars, such as the newest one, which was found only a hundred years ago, of how to make candles from wax and string; also, how to make glass, which is put in our windows to protect us from the rain. To find these things, the Scholars must study the earth and learn from the rivers, from the sands, from the winds and the rocks. And if we went to the Home of the Scholars, we could learn from these also. We could ask questions of these, for they do not forbid questions.

And questions give us no rest. We know not why our curse makes us seek we know not what, ever and ever. But we cannot resist it. It whispers to us that there are great things on this earth of ours, and that we can know them if we try, and that we must know them. We ask, why must we know, but it has no answer to give us. We must know that we may know.

So we wished to be sent to the Home of the Scholars. We wished it so much that our hands trembled under the blankets in the night, and we bit our arm to stop that other pain which we could not endure. It was evil and we dared not face our brothers in the morning. For men may wish nothing for themselves. And we were punished when the Council of Vocations came to give us our life Mandates which tell those who reach their fifteenth year what their work is to be for the rest of their days.

The Council of Vocations came on the first day of spring, and they sat in the great hall. And we who were fifteen and all the Teachers came into the great hall. And the Council of Vocations sat on a high dais, and they had but two words to speak to each of the Students. They called the Students' names, and when the Students stepped before them, one after another, the Council said: "Carpenter" or "Doctor" or "Cook" or "Leader." Then each Student raised their right arm and said: "The will of our brothers be done."

Now if the Council has said "Carpenter" or "Cook," the Students so assigned go to work and they do not study any further. But if the Council has said "Leader," then those Students go into the Home of the Leaders, which is the greatest house in the City, for it has three stories. And there they study for many years, so that they may become candidates and be elected to the City Council and the State Council and the World Council—by a free and general vote of all men. But we wished not to be a Leader, even though it is a great honor. We wished to be a Scholar.

So we awaited our turn in the great hall and then we heard the Council of Vocations call our name: "Equality 7-2521." We walked to the dais, and our legs did not tremble, and we looked up at the Council. There were five members of the Council, three of the male gender and two of the female. Their hair was white and their faces were cracked as the clay of a dry river bed. They were old. They seemed older than the marble of the Temple of the World Council. They sat before us and they did not move. And we saw no breath to stir the folds of their white togas. But we knew that they were alive, for a finger of the hand of the oldest rose, pointed to us, and fell down again. This was the only thing which moved, for the lips of the oldest did not move as they said: "Street Sweeper."

We felt the cords of our neck grow tight as our head rose higher to look upon the faces of the Council, and we were happy. We knew we had been guilty, but now we had a way to atone for it. We would accept our Life Mandate, and we would work for our brothers, gladly and willingly, and we would erase our sin against them, which they did not know, but we knew. So we were happy, and proud of ourselves and of our victory over ourselves. We raised our right arm and we spoke, and our voice was the clearest, the steadiest voice in the hall that day, and we said:

"The will of our brothers be done."

And we looked straight into the eyes of the Council, but their eyes were as cold blue glass buttons.

So we went into the Home of the Street Sweepers. It is a grey house on a narrow street. There is a sundial in its courtyard, by which the Council of the Home can tell the hours of the day and when to ring the bell. When the bell rings, we all arise from our beds. The sky is green and cold in our windows to the east. The shadow on the sundial marks off a half-hour while we dress and eat our breakfast in the dining hall, where there are five long tables with twenty clay plates and twenty clay cups on each table. Then we go to work in the streets of the City, with our brooms and our rakes. In five hours, when the sun is high, we return to the Home and we eat our midday meal, for which one-half hour is allowed. Then we go to work again. In five hours, the shadows are blue on the pavements, and the sky is blue with a deep brightness which is not bright. We come back to have our dinner, which lasts one hour. Then the bell rings and we walk in a straight column to one of the City Halls, for the Social Meeting. Other columns of men arrive from the Homes of the different Trades. The candles are lit, and the Councils of the different Homes stand in a pulpit, and they speak to us of our duties and of our brother men. Then visiting Leaders mount the pulpit and they read to us the speeches which were made in the City Council that day, for the City Council represents all men and all men must know. Then we sing hymns, the Hymn of Brotherhood, and the Hymn of Equality, and the Hymn of the Collective Spirit. The sky is a soggy purple when we return to the Home. Then the bell rings and we walk in a straight column to the City Theatre for three hours of Social Recreation. There a play is shown upon the stage, with two great choruses from the Home of the Actors, which speak and answer all together, in two great voices. The plays are about toil and how good it is. Then we walk back to the Home in a straight column. The sky is like a black sieve pierced by silver drops that tremble, ready to burst through. The moths beat against the street lanterns. We go to our beds and we sleep, till the bell rings again. The sleeping halls are white and clean and bare of all things save one hundred beds.

Thus have we lived each day of four years, until two springs ago when our crime happened. Thus must all men live until they are forty. At forty, they are worn out. At forty, they are sent to the Home of the Useless, where the Old Ones live. The Old Ones do not work, for the State takes care of them. They sit in the sun in summer and they sit by the fire in winter. They do not speak often, for they are weary. The Old Ones know that they are soon to die. When a miracle happens and some live to be forty-five, they are the Ancient Ones, and the children stare at them when passing by the Home of the Useless. Such is to be our life, as that of all our brothers and of the brothers who came before us.

Such would have been our life, had we not committed our crime which changed all things for us. And it was our curse which drove us to our crime. We had been a good Street Sweeper and like all our brother Street Sweepers, save for our cursed wish to know. We looked too long at the stars at night, and at the trees and the earth. And when we cleaned the yard of the Home of the Scholars, we gathered the glass vials, the pieces of metal, the dried bones which they had discarded. We wished to keep these things and to study them, but we had no place to hide them. So we carried them to the City Cesspool. And then we made the discovery.


Excerpted from Anthem by Ayn Rand. Copyright © 2014 Open Road Integrated Media, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Anthem 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 224 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ignore these ignorant, youth-driven responses. Nearly every negative review given was from an individual complaining over assigned reading for an English class, or seeming supporters of non-individualistic forms of societies and/or governments. If you're a free-thinker, independent, and believe in individual freedom, you will thoroughly enjoy this book. It is an extremely quick read, as it is less than 150 pages; however, it is also completely enthralling the entire way through. I also saw a few critical reviews citing the lack of character development, but that is absolute garbage. The character(s) grow dramatically given the length of the book, and I like to use the comparison of the development to Hemmingway's "Old Man and The Sea" both are short, but have great development in the main characters. Strongly recommended.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutley could not put this book down! Rand's story is simple, yet poignant. Even though I don't agree100% with her philosphy, she expresses it so well in this novel that you can't help but want more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book took me a bit to get into it, and once I did I was intrigued. A quick read and I made many connections to the Giver!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Could not put it down. Read it in 1 day. Individuality and freedom is everything. Now more the ever. Must read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anthem by Ayn Rand is one of the best books I've ever read, and that's saying a lot. It's true her final pages take the concept of how important individuality is a little far, but it is consistent with the character and the freedom he would feel. That said, I understand how some people will hate this book, but I hope they can rise to the level to understand why it is still an important read. Very, very well written.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love this book we are reading it in school, and its perfect for 10th graders to see how Ayn Rand saw the world in her perspective.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved this book, I read it for my english class never heard of her or this book. But I loved how they talked so different the " we" instead of I, my friend like alot of people in class didn't like it, I think it takes a certain person to enjoy and understand this book. Great book and ending :).
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Truly a more grown up version of "The Giver". Really gets you thinking. Great read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is one of the greatest books I have ever read!!! Thank you ayn rand for writing such a wonderful book. It was a little hard to understand at first, but after a chapter or so it all came together. Its not some romance novel that has no meaning at all. I was hooked from the start. By the way, thanks for explaining the whole "we" thing mrs. L. And for anyone else that doesn't get it, they say we instead of i because they don't know the word i. That would single them out as being an individual. Anyone that hasn'tread this book needs to!!!!!!!!!
Gabrielle Pelzer More than 1 year ago
it was a really good book and the way she wrote it really makes you think. it is a great book and i would highly recomend it.
Tyler-O-Liberty More than 1 year ago
Anthem is somewhat confusing at the beginning. We read this book in my English class and if my teacher didn't explain it to us, I may not have understood it. This book may make you appreciate the kind of life you have today. It has a small love story in it, and there isn't much action, so if u like those kinds of books then go ahead and read Anthem.
davemoneypezzhead More than 1 year ago
I thought the book was very symbolic and had alot of important life lessons. One very interesting thing about the book is it's almost 75 years old and the message is still relevant today. The book shows the true value of words and how if one was removed from society it could be catastropic.The book also has a good ending in my opinion.
Liberty28 More than 1 year ago
This type of book doesn't really fall into my category of interest, but my English 2 class was assigned to read it thoroughly and answer a few questions. It started off a little slow and confusing, but if you stick with it, and pay attention to Rand's details your eyes will soon be glued to the book until you've completed it. Her use of select words and references gives you a strong connection with the author's struggles and frustration in that time period, and the dull, uniform society she was forced to live in.
DF1A_SarahG on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book was actually really interesting. It takes place in the future where everyone is supposed to be equal and they all refer to themselves as "we". It really makes you think about the way that we live and what it would be to live like they did in the book.
tgrondahl2004 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is a work that has inspired me to live outside the box, to stand for my belief and to live life. This is an excellent work for those who want to believe in something within themselves.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was suggested by a friend and was not disappointed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anthem by Ayn Rand is a book about a collectivist dystopian society. Anthem portrays the many cons of a collectivist society well, and shows the meaning of individualism. Equality is a man from this society that gets assigned street sweeper, and goes through many ups and downs, to even position himself against society to discover his “I”. Anthem is a great book that should be given to those who want to learn the struggles between individualism and collectivism. To begin with, the setting of Anthem has a very mysterious air to it. The size of Anthem is not particularly described and the environment around this society is not known except for the uncharted forest. Ayn Rand gives you the point of view of Equality, and one way this government has people to cooperate is to have them as ill-informed as possible. Which is why Equality cannot tell us much about anything outside of the society and the inner clock works of the government. Ayn Rand does not focus as much on setting detail as she does with character development. The fact that Ayn Rand focuses on her characters make  much more cohesive and well developed story. Ayn Rand does not dwell deep into the ideas and thoughts of the other characters through Equality, but gets her ideas across with the inner conflicts and ideas of Equality. While the other characters are not as well developed as  Equality, Equality’s growth and development is well seen. The hardships he goes through gives allows him to grow as a person. In Anthem he is constantly trying to discover who he is and the ideas that he believes people need to know. The plot of the story is well written, but predictable. There are plot holes that are not explained in the story, but it seems to be intentional, to show that not all the problems of individualism and collectivism could be solved, but to only show the struggles between them. There are some plot holes that may have been better answered, such as who the world council is, or if they were the only society like them. This book may be inspirational for people who are trying to be themselves and finding out who they are. What I did not like about the plot was the romance. It feels half-hearted and not well developed, and the story did not really need it. If the romance was a little more developed it would be a good addition to the story, but it does not seem to be well placed. In conclusion, Ayn Rand’s Anthem society should have more detail added into it, but is overall good. The main point was to show the struggles of individualism and collectivism through the protagonist Equality, but it sacrifices this through the lack of detail of creating the world itself. The Anthem society has many plot holes and lacks details with the world itself. Ayn Rand is a book that I liked to read, but not one I would pick myself off the shelf. I would rate this book 3.5 out of 5.
AnnyHoang More than 1 year ago
The novella "Anthem" written by Ayn Rand portrays the idea of individuality. Published by the New American Library in 1938, it has since became a favorite of many readers across the globe. Although it has won over the hearts of many readers over the past decades, it did not win over mine. The story begins with the main character, Equality 7-2521, explaining who he was, and how his society worked. He spoke of how he felt and what he discovered but never took credit for his own works. He did this because his community preached the idea of collectivism , which led the society to never experience their own thoughts or ideas. As the story progressed, it became obvious that Equality 7-2521 was experiencing new emotions: love. He had an attraction to a seventeen year-old named Liberty 5-3000, whom he have nicknamed The Golden One. The two unintentionally express their feelings for each other by giving illegal nicknames and awkward hand-kissing. Besides learning how to love, Equality 7-2521 also discovered a simple form of electricity; an old light bulb. There he finally claims credit for his invention and plans to to reveal the bulb at the World Council of Scholars, who are conveniently meeting at his city the next month. The day comes when the Council is here. They laugh at his face and deemed it unfit for the society. When they demanded the bulb to be destroyed, Equality runs out of town and into the Uncharted Forest. He travels for a couple of days until the Golden One caught up to him. The two sets off, leaving forever. After days of traveling, the two stumbles upon an old house left from the Unmentionable Times. They wander around the area exploring new objects. Eventually they plan to start their new live as Prometheus and Gaea.  I really dislike this book because Rand left a lot of questions unanswered. Basically Equality loses in the story because he gets kicked out of society. I feel like this story is not logical because everything Equality encounters in this story is something he happened to stumble upon. For example, he just happened to be sweeping that particular area that day and just found the manhole. Or when he met Liberty. He just happened to meet her that particular sidewalk he was sweeping on that particular day. What were the odds that she even liked him? In the real world, meeting people that are attracted to you when you aren't attractive is very unlikely. What prevented him from discovering the manhole before? Or meeting the Golden One? I rate this a generous ¿.
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EA_Lake More than 1 year ago
Loved it. Just plain loved it! Rand shows her unique style in every sentence, almost every word. Writes looking for creative ideas need to go no further. Just watch her crisply slash all personal pronouns. We'll the singular ones at least.
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