Friday, January 01, 2010

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

I first heard of this novel a couple of years ago. Quite how I've lived this long without coming across it is a mystery. I re-read some Robert Heinlein novels last year and even he namechecks the author Ayn Rand in his prose.
I picked up my first copy in a charity store a couple of years ago and literally read it to pieces. It's a big book. The paperback runs to over 1000 pages and it's small print, about 8pt. By the time I got to the last 100 pages they were hanging by a thread.I passed the book on to my friend Jamie who managed to keep it together long enough to finish it and he too was astounded by the book.
Recent world events have prompted me to re-read it, so just before Christmas I obtained a brand new copy via Ebay, and I'm now 200 pages in, and enjoying it even more than the first time I read it.
So, it's a big book. It's over fifty years old. So why should you read it?

Well, it's a good story, an epic with a strong cast of characters led by Dagny Taggart, the female Operations Director of Taggart Transcontinental Railways, as she struggles to keep the railway open while industries close down, businesses fail, banks go bankrupt and the government passes laws to make everyone equal.
Sounds familiar?
There's the eternal triangle between Dagny and two of the male lead characters. The writing is beautiful with great descriptive passages of prose as the story makes its way to a crescendo. As they say, I couldn't put it down.
Apparently someone has the film rights and there were plans to make a Hollywood blockbuster starring Angelina Jolie as Dagney Taggart. I sincerely hope that they fail. 12 one hour episodes is the minimum that would be needed to do the book justice. Having seen the mess that they made of Heinlein's "Starship Troopers" where they entirely missed the point of the book, I shudder to think what they'd do with it. Anyone who read Harry Harrison's amazing book "Make room, make room" and then saw the film "Soylent Green" will know that heart sinking feeling when Hollywood takes a great and honest and believable story and then changes the ending to make it more sensational will know what I mean.

Anyway I urge and encourage you to get a copy of Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand and discover it for yourself.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I would also recommend her non-fiction. "Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal", "The Virtue of Selfishness", "The Anti-Industrial Revolution", and "Philsophy: Who Needs It". "Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand" is also good, but more theoretical. The others are a series of essays of political and societal commentary, and very interesting reads.