#Bookreview – Anthem by Ayn Rand

I have signed up for the Back to the Classics Challenge 2020, hosted by Karen from Books and Chocolate blog.

If you are interested in reading classics, you can join in this challenge here:



Anthem is my fifth book in this challenge.

What Amazon says

Ayn Rand’s classic tale of a dystopian future of the great “We”—a world that deprives individuals of a name or independence—that anticipates her later masterpieces, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.

They existed only to serve the state. They were conceived in controlled Palaces of Mating. They died in the Home of the Useless. From cradle to grave, the crowd was one—the great WE.

In all that was left of humanity there was only one man who dared to think, seek, and love. He lived in the dark ages of the future. In a loveless world, he dared to love the woman of his choice. In an age that had lost all trace of science and civilization, he had the courage to seek and find knowledge. But these were not the crimes for which he would be hunted. He was marked for death because he had committed the unpardonable sin: He had stood forth from the mindless human herd. He was a man alone. He had rediscovered the lost and holy word—I.

“I worship individuals for their highest possibilities as individuals, and I loathe humanity, for its failure to live up to these possibilities.”—Ayn Rand

My review

This book does not have the best plot it have every read and neither is it the best written book I have ever read, but it is controversial and makes the reader think. Prior to writing this review I read a number of other reviews that have been posted for this particular book. They range from 1 star reviews from people who totally disagree with Ayn Rand’s philosophical viewpoint to 5 stars from people who have embraced it. For me, a book that results in so much thinking and diverse opinion my be a 5 star read as that is what a book like this is all about. It is intended to make the reader think about an extreme social situation.

From a personal perspective, I appreciated the author’s thoughts about a society where everything is for the collective. In many ways it is a lovely thought to have everyone committed to the whole as opposed to the individual, but I firmly believe that if this were to be the case, then mankind would no longer progress. Progress requires individuality and creativity. It often also requires an obsessive nature and desire to solve a problem. If knowledge and learning were to be discouraged and those with a different way of thinking, spurned, our progressive society would soon stutter and we would start reversing as is depicted in this book. H.G. Well’s shared similar thinking in his book The Time Machine where a future generation had everything it needed to live a happy life and the people had diminished intellectually and were like young children.

In this book, the main character is a young man called Equality 7-2521 who is forward thinking and academically inclined. He understands concepts much more quickly than his counterparts and suffers for it in the hands of an intolerant schooling system where being more agile minded than others is discouraged. The MC knows he is different from his peers but he has never known a society different from the one he lives in where there are no marriages, people do not chose partners but are coupled at the discretion of the leadership, children are raised in communes by people other than their parents and everyone is assigned a job regardless of ability. The book hints at the fact that the MC is assigned to be a street sweeper by the leadership in a deliberate move to suppress him and ensure he could not bring his intellectual abilities to the forefront. It does not work and the MC discovers a tunnel under the ground which has the remains of an electric railway line and a sophisticated lightening system.

The MC goes against his background and makes a plan to hid in the tunnel and study his findings. This results in him rediscovering electricity. This is a story of a return to a dark age where people are held back in the name of the collective good. It is an extreme view, as mentioned previously, but it is necessary to take that stance in order to demonstrate the author’s point so effectively.

The plot also includes a romance which is also forbidden and which puts a positive spin on the story and provides the possibility of a future generation of people who are free from the shackles of their narrow minded society and progress can again take place.

Purchase Anthem by Ayn Rand

47 thoughts on “#Bookreview – Anthem by Ayn Rand

  1. I have heard mixed reviews of this book. I´m not keen on dystopian stories as they scare me. But it certainly makes you think, doesn´t it? Once again, your review is excellent.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I’ve read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, but not this one. You make it sound enticing, so I think I’ll add ti my reading list. You are right, Rand makes you think. As I recall, I like parts of what she has to say, while others I disagree with.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. The problem with all political thinking seems to be inflexibility. You could also write a book where extreme individuality destroys the world…in fact we see the damage both extremes do in the disfunction all around us, in the inability to work together and compromise. You need to balance the individual and the collective, without being stuck in one way of thinking. Her thought is just as intolerant of those who disagree as that of any Marxist.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Your comments remind me of something a professor of mine once said about the radical ends of the political spectrum, that there is a point at which they can become so extreme that they meet and become one and the same.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Reading, judging, and rating political books is so hard because you can’t distance yourself from people’s opinions. So good on you for reading this (and making it all the way through – Ayn Rand can be very dry at times!).

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I had to read “Anthem” in high school honors English for grade 10/sophomore year. I found it so painful that I was forever put off of Rand’s writing … and that was *before* I found out about her politics. You’re very brave for getting through that mess.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I saw your review, Jacqui. I do believe that creativity is vital for progress because you have to make the leap of imagination to see your invention come to life. We are going to see progress now, with this Coronavirus pandemic. Bright minds out there will find ways of improving things for everyone. That is how it always goes.


  6. Terrific review Robbie…it’s interesting that an Author of three works of fiction has become such a politicized figure…it IS fiction, right? That seems to be the point of her work – does it imagine a certain world or promote it?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. HI John, yes, this is fiction and features a dystopian world where all progress has been lost in the quest for equality. Individual excellence in research, intellectual ability and other areas is actively discouraged by the society as everyone must feel they are the same. I liked it and some of it rings true although this is an extreme view. I believe their is a lot of promotion of mediocrity in our modern society, especially with our children.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. That’s basically the way communism works, isn’t it? The chosen few and then the collective population who are told what to do and how to do it.
    This doesn’t sound like one I’d enjoy. Insightful review, Robbie, thanks.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It is interesting to read other peoples thoughts and ideas, Liz. For me it is more about the thought process a book stimulates in me than the actual ideology that I appreciate. In saying that, I do think there has been a big swing away for recognition of individual achievement in our schools and a replacement with team work. I don’t like team work personally, I think it always falls to one person, in my case usually me, to carry everyone else. I see this happening over and over again with my own children and I think it is an unfair way of doing things.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Roberta, that was a very honest review of the book. Frankly, the plot is uninteresting and her philosophy is self-serving. But, I liked the symbolism and allusions.
    And you wrote a short, readable review. That’s really nice. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  9. I’ve never been able to get into reading Rand – this is a great umph to give her another try. btw – would love if you’d do guest blog post for my site on the youtube channel you mentioned you do with your boys. if you’re so inclined, here’s a link to general guidelines: https://wp.me/p6OZAy-1eQ

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hi da-AL, I am working on a post for you with how to make peony flowers. They take a while to make and I am going to create a video for the YouTube site with the step-by-step instructions. I’m aiming to get it all to you this week. I am also at the mercy of my boys hormones … they are more obliging some days that others [smile].

      Liked by 1 person

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