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The John Galt Speech - Read or Skipped?

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message 1: by Don (new) - rated it 4 stars

Don Ayn Rand took two years to write this section of Atlas Shrugged. She considered it the most important part of the book. Its length is daunting. Did you read it or skip it? For those hardy souls that read it, did you buy what John Galt was selling?

Adi Narayan Mandalemula I never knew about it. By 'length is daunting', do you mean it's like 'The Republic' in the dialogues of Plato?

message 3: by One (new) - rated it 5 stars

One Flew I read it and loved it. My views don't perfectly coincide with Rand's, but i agree with the general concepts she is trying to get across. The book builds in intensity all the way to the John Galt speech, so i don't know why anyone would skip it.

message 4: by Don (new) - rated it 4 stars

Don In the book it is presented as a 3 hour plus radio monologue. I understand Hugo Chavez was able to go on for that long in his speeches, but he included singing. Galt's speech is not only daunting, it's ponderous.

Heather Janesky Read and re-read:) One of the favorite books my husband and I read together in our 20's. Need to revisit now that I'm in my 40's...

R.M. Wark The first few times I read Atlas Shrugged I managed to get through about 10 pages of the speech, but ended up skipping the rest. I am a big fan of the book, so I finally made an effort to read the entire thing. Personally, I think it could have been condensed quite a bit. I seem to recall that many of the points made were repetitive and did not further her argument much. It has been a few years since I've read the book, though...I may have to dust it off and read it again!

Leslie Gentner Loved the book and left me with a different lens to look at our contemporary life with. However, like R.M., I started reading the speech, but couldn't stick with it and also found it redundant.

Erik Paul I know it's long, but you have to read it; it's essential. Don't be afraid of it!

message 9: by KatieMc (last edited Apr 11, 2013 04:58PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

KatieMc I _consumed_ Atlas Shrugged as an audiobook, and I listened to the whole thing. I don't recall how long it was, but three hours sounds about right. Fortunately audiobooks have an option for accelerated playback. The narrator, Scott Brick, is excellent (one of my favorite readers). Even so, I found it repetitive and tedious. Had I read it I am pretty sure I would have skimmed and skipped some.

While I think such a long winded speech is relevant for the dystopian universe of Atlas Shrugged, it would never fly in real life. If you have a message, it is best to be cogent and to the point.

There are similar discussions about the topical tangents that Victor Hugo takes in Les Misérables. To me, those are most helpful. It is almost as if he knew that the book would endure through generations and across the globe and so he put in these _tutorials_ on nineteenth century Paris. While they were not essential, I found them contributing to my appreciation and understanding of the story.

message 10: by Jjab (new) - rated it 2 stars

Jjab Skip it. Its an eye glazing, mind numbing experience.

message 11: by Anne (new) - rated it 5 stars

Anne I had to read Galts speach several times to get it.

Allan Ashinoff I read it twice. The first time because it was part of the story. The second time, because it was plain from the first reading that it was absolutely relevant.

message 13: by Kate (last edited Apr 14, 2013 06:20AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kate While I loved the themes in Atlas Shrugged and think it is an important piece of fiction, Ayn Rand was a bit of a blowhard and Atlas Shrugged would have benefited from a harsh editing. Although I did not skip John Galt's speech (it's sort of the soul of the entire book!) I remember I began to skim through it about half way through. The speech, and the book itself could have been half as long and would have been improved in my opinion.

In the Atlas Society, they had this to say, which goes a long way in explaining why she could not bear to cut it down I suppose.

"Ayn Rand regarded Galt's speech as the shortest summary of her philosophy, which she called Objectivism. "I knew it was going to be the hardest chapter in the book," she told an interviewer in 1961. "I underestimated. I thought, with a feeling of dread, that it would take at least three months. Well, it took two years." Rand began outlining the speech on July 29, 1953; it was not completed until October 13, 1955."


Claire_D read it. :-) thought provoking.

message 15: by Ted (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ted "Whoever you are–you who are alone with my words in this moment, with nothing but your honesty to help you understand–the choice is still open to be a human being, but the price is to start from scratch, to stand naked in the face of reality and, reversing a costly historical error, to declare: 'I am, therefore I'll think.'"

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

At the very least Galt's speech shows a brilliant thinker at her height. However one feels about Rand's philosophy, her keen mind cutting through all the dross makes the speech well worth the effort in my view.

message 16: by Don (new) - rated it 4 stars

Don So if you read the speech, did the two years Rand spent writing this chapter, result in you buying what she was selling? Unlike the rest of the book the speech is equal parts anti-socialism and anti-religion.

I can't buy that America would be better off without the impact of our religious heritage. From City on a Hill George Whitefield to bible quoting Abraham Lincoln to Reverend Martin Luther King, religion has played a major positive role in the history of the United States.

I don't buy a more selfish, less religious America would be an improvement.

Abhishek Satheesh I skipped it.

Janine Caldwell Read the masterpiece twice, but I admit, I can't get through the speech. I've given it a valiant try, but I want to say, "I get the point already."

Payten I skipped it when i read but if you EVER decide to do any sort of paper or study on Atlas Shrugged or even Ayn Rand, that speech is the perfect place to find quotes. So i ended up reading it while writing my paper tryingt i find the quotes i need. I understand why she put it, especially when you consider the enormous impact it had on the Objectivist community.

message 20: by Leslie (last edited Apr 15, 2013 12:17PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Leslie Ann Definitely read it

message 21: by John (new) - rated it 5 stars

John Galt Read it the first time around. After that just sort of skimmed. I'm a bad boy!

Emilye Started it then skipped it. Seemed like she was just basically giving a synopsis of what the entire story was already showing you.

sologdin it's the only part worth reading in his horrible text, because it supplies much unintentional comedy otherwise absent from this constipated writer's pedestrian oeuvre.

Laura Drake I'm with John - first time, read it, loved it...but I've read this book probably 20 times - now I skim it.

She'd have never gotten away with that these days, as a writer! I think it could have been said just as well with 1/2 the words.

But remember, the novel for her, was only a vehicle for her philosophy. That said, I'd say she did pretty darned well as a novelist!

David I read it thru the first time, saved it, and have reread it many times just by itself. I don't agree completely with Ayn Rand on all things but I do like this speech.

Derick Lawson Don wrote: "Ayn Rand took two years to write this section of Atlas Shrugged. She considered it the most important part of the book. Its length is daunting. Did you read it or skip it? For those hardy souls tha..."

Why skip it if you read the rest of the book? It's not "outside" of the story by any means.

Susan Jordan Read it; loved it!

message 28: by Lisa (new) - rated it 2 stars

Lisa Westerfield Read a chunk of it then threw the book against a wall then decided not to give Rand the satisfaction of killing me with boredom so I finished it!

message 29: by J (last edited Apr 17, 2013 12:29PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

J C On my first reading I vaguely understood any of it. Then when I re-read the novel, I took it all in, understood it and go back to it once in a while. This is practically the heart of the novel, what she was getting at, what all the events, the characters, their motives etc., represented. It's her philosophy defined.

Alfredo I developed a new reading method (for me, it is) for Atlas Shrugged. Whenever Rand began with lenghty, minutely detailed, torpid descriptions, I'd skim the next paragraphs till plot development began again. It took a lot of effort to read the whole thing, but the Galt speech section was absolutely unsufferable. Repetition upon repetition of the "philosophy" core points ad nauseam, as if they hadn't been constantly explained, exemplified and demonstrated a hundred times before by this point in the book.

If the novel could be edited into half its lenght, it would be a lot more enjoyable and recommendable.

Stephanie "Jedigal" Alfredo wrote: "Repetition upon repetition of the "philosophy" core points ad nauseam, as if they hadn't been constantly explained, exemplified and demonstrated a hundred times before by this point in the book."

Exactly. Isn't the whole point of a novel to show a point, not to state a point? I read about 1/4 of the speech, too much already, and was extremely annoyed. There was nothing said that I hadn't already gleened from the too long, too many specific illustrations and examples presented, narrative. I felt the speech was the equivalent of treating the reader like a toddler who couldn't see with its own eyes that 2 + 2 = 4.

message 32: by Kristen (new) - added it

Kristen Hill Listened to it. I didn't want to skip it because I didn't want anyone to say I didn't "get it" because I didn't read the whole thing. When I tried to discuss with my husband who convinced me to read the book about it he went "Oh yeah, I skipped it after about the first two pages.

Bonnie I considered skipping it. I read it, but only because I'm a committed reader and I don't do stuff like that. When I realized that this was going to be a long speech I flipped ahead to see when the chapter would end. It was miserable.

message 34: by Mahesh (last edited Apr 21, 2013 01:32AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Mahesh Why would one skip the speech? I felt the essence of the book was in the speech.

message 35: by John (new) - rated it 3 stars

John I skipped it, I was so bored of her preaching and the silly straw men she kept having her heroes fight.

Rand had some interesting ideas, and some great points to make, but on the whole her philosophy hasn't stood the test of time.

message 36: by Kim (new) - rated it 2 stars

Kim SKIPPED! After the first few sentences I did not need to read any more. It was the same point she had been making the previous thousand pages.

Kristin I read it. But it took me weeks. I kept losing interest since it was mostly repetitive. My favorite was the Utopia.

Graeme Skipped it - if that was on the radio, I would have turned it off. Loved the rest of the book though!

Deepa Read it. Loved it

Jonathan Haack is this a serious question? skipping parts of books? is this a book message board or elementary school? READ - of course.

23skadoo40 Read it

message 42: by [deleted user] (new)

Didn't skip it. I knew what I was getting into when I saw the page count. I did, however, frequently check how much of the chapter remained. Don't remember the details, though. Something about work good, moochers bad.

Tonya Read it.

Chris Dietzel The first time I read the book I read the entire speech. I love the book, but if I ever read it again, I will definitely skip that portion. Rand is a great story-teller but that speech is the epitome of how her writing would have benefited from having an editor cut down parts.

Rachael L. First time I read the book I skipped it. The second time I read the book I read it. The third time I read the book I skipped it. Since it seems like I'm doing an every other read pattern, I guess I'll have to read the entire thing next time I pick the book up.

message 46: by Don (new) - rated it 4 stars

Don From the comments so far, it seems Rand's John Galt Speech was a wasted effort. People either skipped it, or did not buy all she was selling.

Chase I would read. It's very pivotal to what Ayn wanted the world to know within the realms of objectivism and it is portrayed hugely in that speech. It can be a bit long, but well worth it.

Terry Mulcahy I don't understand why anyone would even consider skipping it. If such a large part of any book is not read, then I submit that you did not read that book, and should not say you read that book. In this case, it is the most relevant part of the book, the reason why the book was written, and essential to understanding the plot. One does not have to buy all she was selling, but the similarity between religion and socialism is pretty clear, so I don't know how people say one part is true and the other not. It's so funny how our religious right-wing could embrace Ayn Rand's philosophy without noticing that. Sadly, Ayn Rand's "Capitalism" is based more her attempt to reject her socialist upbringing than on the real world. Her "Objective Capitalism" is just as utopian, and dystopian, as Communism, and unrealistic. Such societies can only exist if every single person agrees with the particular philosophy. Otherwise those who disagree must be forced, by force of arms, to go along.

Hollis Ramsey not only have i read it -- more than once -- but i've also typed it and, as of today, listened to it on YouTube. yes, it runs about 3 hrs. it's just brilliant! Ayn Rand knew from what she wrote, having grown up in newly communist Russia as a member of a jewish family. it's the 20th Century Motor Corp. writ large. people shouldn't just read it; they should study it. alongside Philosophy: Who Needs It?, it's her most important essay.

Alyssa Colistro Skipped! Haha...I guess at that point in the book I had already gotten the point and didn't need to have it beaten in to me over again. I understand why the passage is important and if I was reading the book for anything other than bus/train reading I probably would have taken the time...

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