I have mixed feelings about this book. There were moments I really liked, but when I was done, I felt a dull sense of disappointment. Not quite sure w...moreI have mixed feelings about this book. There were moments I really liked, but when I was done, I felt a dull sense of disappointment. Not quite sure why. And so it goes.(less)
Much more interesting than I expected. The end caught me by surprised because I didn't realized I had already breezed through all 14 lectures. It was...moreMuch more interesting than I expected. The end caught me by surprised because I didn't realized I had already breezed through all 14 lectures. It was a pleasure.(less)
I wanted to like Quicksand from the descriptive opening scene, though ultimately I found the narrative too aimless and the conclusion disappointing. T...moreI wanted to like Quicksand from the descriptive opening scene, though ultimately I found the narrative too aimless and the conclusion disappointing. The book wraps up with a pointed pessimism that seems almost inevitable, but I wish the protagonist had gained a lasting sense of peace in the end, since she expressed such unhappiness and acted so restlessly throughout the story. Or, conversely, that she had died during childbirth, as befitting a true tragedy.
Nevertheless, Larson provides an interesting - and indeed penetrating - account of mulatto identity during the early 1900s, during the Harlem Renaissance. One might also read the book on a more general level as the exploration of the turmoil experienced by biracial people, not necessarily half black and white. The author's ambivalent treatment of sexuality and family relations adds a layer of feminist considerations to the text as well. Summarily, Larson's main character inspires both empathy and annoyance, while the book's prose often paints beautiful images.(less)
**spoiler alert** "Anthem" completes my readings of Rand's novels. It is my favorite of the four, probably because I'm more of a fan of science fictio...more**spoiler alert** "Anthem" completes my readings of Rand's novels. It is my favorite of the four, probably because I'm more of a fan of science fiction than historical romance, which "The Fountainhead," "Atlas Shrugged," and "We The Living" all are.
"Anthem" is also the shortest and most simply written. The writing style reflects the main character's restricted formal education, a style which I believe contributes to other reviewers' complaints of shallow character development. While I did find the personality of his love interest extremely underdeveloped and too submissive to the main character, the narrative is written in diary form and is thus the concentrated expression of a single individual's psychology. The woman's mix of independent pride and devoted submission to her lover seems contradictory but doesn't contradict Rand's concept of romance laid out in her other novels.
Only at the end does the main character launch into one of Rand's signature lengthy and idealistic monologues, one I didn't find overly lengthy and did enjoy though, as always, I harbored some reservations for her philosophical statements. However, my only major qualm is that I don't like the very last line. I find her use of "ego" for the final word jarring as it had not been previously introduced. Though I do understand her philosophical reasons for reserving the ultimate ending for and thus placing the heaviest emphasis on "ego," I think the novel would have been more artistically organic had it ended with "I," as it is the narrative's mystery word.
Overall a good work considerably more abstract in style, format, and narrative setting than Rand's other fictions. I was surprised to see how many reviewers rated "Anthem" 1-2 stars. Many of them seem incredibly bias against Rand, expected something similar to her lengthier narratives, or obviously didn't pay much attention while reading the book. If you don't like her persona, ideas, or other novels, or if you don't like abstract sci-fi stories or simplistic writing style, then don't read the book. If you have to read the book for school, don't review it unless you actually read it and not skimmed over it, otherwise you'll sound like an idiot to those who really did read it.
On a strictly personal note, I found "Anthem" a refreshing break from all the nonfiction I have been going through lately.(less)
Rand wrote a few exceptional scenarios for this book. Her scenes mix high drama and striking visuals. In particular, the scene of a man on a prison tr...moreRand wrote a few exceptional scenarios for this book. Her scenes mix high drama and striking visuals. In particular, the scene of a man on a prison train watching his wife's train fade into the distance, evoked intense emotions. However, I found the main character frustrating, weaker than the heroic personas I've come to expect from the author, or perhaps I merely disliked her utter devotion to Leo, whom I found unworthy. In contrast to Leo, Andre Taganov provides the unfailing -- albeit misdirected -- integrity that I find appealing in Rand's characters. I was not happy with the ending, though I suppose I wasn't meant to be. The narrative takes place in the former capital of Russia during the early Soviet Era, so Rand gives a hefty dose of political commentary. The theme of communism's relentless destruction of individualistic dreams culminates, though somewhat indirectly, in a tragic ending. In general, I found "We the Living," Rand's first novel, philosophically lighter, yet more emotionally engaging, than its successors "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead."(less)