Margot's Reviews > Anthem

Anthem by Ayn Rand
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's review
Dec 01, 2009

it was ok
bookshelves: own, anti-utopian, 2012
Recommended for: Geoffrey

I read this in just a couple hours on my commute home from work one evening. I enjoyed the world Ayn Rand created here, where everyone has a generic label and number code for a name, where men and women do not interact except at the monthly procreation gatherings, where each person is assigned a job which they will fulfill for the rest of their lives irregardless of individual intelligence or potential, where suffering for the good of the whole is an admirable quality.

The book reads like a manifesto, written by Equality 7-2521 as journal entries from his secret hideout--his upbringing and need to conform battling against his high intelligence and streak of independence, but losing--as he endeavors to make the biggest scientific discovery his people will have ever known.

Where Anthem ran into problems for me was in the "Anthem" itself (as described in the intro to the 50th anniversary edition)--the final two chapters. The transition to Equality 7-2521's final discovery of self was jarring at best and, perhaps because of its roughness, did not move me in the least. I felt, in fact, in a hurry to finish the book. But not for the sake of enjoyment or discovery, only for the sake of checking another book off my list. I always know there's something lacking in a book when, by the home stretch I'm racing to finish it for the sake of having read it rather than for the sake of actually reading it.

Lastly, I was disappointed in Ayn Rand's use of a male protagonist and her portrayal of the one woman in the book (Liberty 5-3000, Equality 7-2521's beautiful and sexy--of course--and golden-haired companion) as basically a tag-along with second-class intelligence. She didn't read the books. All she did after their escape was admire herself in a mirror. Despite Rand's progressive ideas, she apparently did not dare (or deign?) to stretch her assertions to include equality between the sexes.

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