Hmmm.. I’m not exactly sure where to begin when it comes to Ayn Rand’s novella, Anthem. I was recommended it by my sister’s boyfriend who was currently immersed in The Fountainhead. I think the recommendation came from my current obsession with dystopian lit, but I’m not exactly sure how I feel about this one. The clear capitalist agenda behind it was a little scary, just because she seems obsessed with the man as an individual and how bad working as a team can be for the world.
The general plot around the novel surrounds the protagonist, Equality 7-2521. Yes, seriously, that is his name. The man is perfect in every way, but must live among the commoners because nobody is allowed to be superior to others. He sneaks away at night, invents electricity, then is punished with jail time for not abiding by rules. Backwards to say the least.
The portion of the book I found to be the most interesting was the point of view. It took a few pages to figure out that every time a character said “we” he meant “I.” “I” is a word that has been outlawed in the society to prevent people from acting selfishly. Ultimately, Equality 7-2521 learns that it is not about “we” it is about “me” and decides he is not going to do anything that benefits others again unless it has his best interest at heart. This includes procuring a woman from a field he was working near. Oh, and staring at his own reflection in a pond and thinking about how good he looks. The last word of the book, “ego,” is meant to show that to a man, the most important thing in the world should be himself. End of story.
I enjoyed reading it, but I’m not sure I liked it in the end. I read it during my breaks in night school over two nights, so it took basically no time at all if you want to check it out for yourself. I don’t doubt that there is a reason this book is taught profusely in Florida high schools, but I am having some trouble seeing it. I’m sure people would argue otherwise, but I’ve always thought being an egomaniac is something that should be avoided. In Rand’s world it is the only thing. Man is the god of himself.