Monday, November 28, 2005


ATLAS Shrugged is truly one of the most remarkable novels of the 20th
Its influence on American society is so far-reaching that in a survey
carried out by the US Library of Congress in co-operation with the Book of
the Month, the book has been ranked number two as having the greatest
impact on individuals after the Bible.
First released in 1957, the book and in particular its Russian-born
author, Ayn Rand, today still have an intellectual impression of lingering
proportions on its readers. In 1998, a documentary entitled Ayn Rand: A
Sense of Life garnered wide acclaim in Canada and America. The following
year, the US Postal Service issued a commemorative Ayn Rand stamp. Atlas
Shrugged has been described as Rand's magnum opus. The author has infused
the novel with her own brand of philosophy called Objectivism. In her own
words in the appendix to Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand wrote: "My philosophy,
in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own
happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as
his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."
And what is her philosophy? Rand says it is "the fundamental nature of
existence, of man, and of man's relationship to existence...
In the realm of cognition, the special sciences are the trees, but
philosophy is the soil which makes the forest possible".
Man is the hero in this astounding book and he comes in the form of John
The most famous line in the entire novel is "who is John Galt?" Villains
and protagonist feature greatly in this story about "murder" but it's not
the kind of murder that you are familiar with.
It is "not about the murder of man's body, but about the murder - and
rebirth - of man's spirit," wrote Rand. It dwells at length on the
deterioration of America. Shops, farms and factories shut down. Riots
break out as food supplies dwindle. Characters in the likes of a genius
who becomes a playboy; a steel industrialist on the path of self-
destruction and a philosopher-cum-pirate populated the pages of Atlas
The interplay of human relations is intricate and complexity of human
emotions is interwoven into the matrix created in the mind of Rand.
But like The Fountainhead (the other novel by Ayn Rand), there's always
a love interest and she is Dagny Taggart. Even in the intellectually
complex mental machinations of Rand's imaginings, love is that intractable
and inexplicable X-factor that makes up that essential part of man's
purpose on earth.
If I may, this novel can be said to be one gigantic action-cum-suspense
novel, although it does not run along the same lines as any book that
carries a similar description. That's what makes it so great.
Fans of Ayn Rand will no doubt have read her other books like We the
Living (1936) and Anthem (1946). But The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged
are the cornerstones that mark Rand's everlasting fame in the literary
Rand's philosophy of Objectivism has apparently struck a chord among
thinking individuals across the oceans and her rallying cry of man's
inextinguishable individualism resonates relentlessly from boardroom to

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