Rand, Ayn: Atlas Shrugged
(researched by Kristin Sherwood)

Assignment 1: Bibliographical Description

1 First edition publication information (publisher, place, date, etc.)

Ayn Rand. Atlas Shrugged. New York: Random House, 1957. Copyright: 1957 by Ayn Rand 1985 renewed by Eugene Winick, Paul Gitlin, and Leonard Peikoff Also published simultaneously in Toronto, Canada, by Random House of Canada, Limited. Source: Back of Title Page in 1992 Signet paperback edition

2 First edition published in cloth, paper, or both? If both, simultaneous or staggered?

First edition published in trade cloth binding

3 JPEG image of cover art from first edition, if available

4 Pagination

594 Leaves, [10][1-3] 4-26 [27] 28-43 [44] 45-63 [64] 65-88 [89] 90-126 [127] 128-161 [162] 163-216 [217] 218-252 [253] 254-291 [292] 293-336 [2] [339] 340-378 [379] 380-422 [423] 424-460 [461] 462-495 [496] 497-531 [532] 533-564 [565] 566-607 [608] 609-632 [633] 634-653 [654] 655-697 [3] [701] 702-751 [752] 753-815 [816] 817-863 [864] 865-908 [909] 910-962 [963] 964-999 [1000] 1001-1069 [1070] 1071-1125 [1126] 1127- 1146 [1147] 1148-1168 [1] [1170-1171]* [7] *about the author

5 Edited or Introduced? If so, by whom?

Not edited or introduced

6 Illustrated? If so, by whom?

Not illustrated

7 JPEG image of sample illustration, if available

8 General physical appearance of book (Is the physical presentation of the text attractive? Is the typography readable? Is the book well printed?)

Due to large volume of book, text was not designed for easy to read purposes, with smaller print and margins, but not extremely difficult. Chapter breaks are indicated with roman numeral and title in uppercase letters and bold print, covering one-third of the beginning page of each chapter. The book is divided into three parts which are seperated by several blank pages, and have a separate title page with the title and part number in bold uppercase print. The text is in sans serif style. 78R. Page Size: 215mm x 144mm. Text Size: 180mm x 112mm.

9 JPEG image of sample chapter page, if available

10 Paper (Assess the original quality of the paper used for the book. Is the paper in the copy or copies you examined holding up physically over time?)

The pages were printed on durable, wove paper, slightly yellowed but in good condition. The edges of the paper are torn and of slightly different sizes. The inside of the front and back cover, and the first and last pages of the book are of slightly thicker, tan, paper with a bit more texture to them. Source: EJ Labarre's Dictionary & Encyclopaedia of Paper and Paper Making

11 Description of binding(s)

Greenish blue, trade cloth binding inlaid with gold guilt lettering. The authorís initials, AR, appear on the front. On the side there is a black stamped box with the Random House symbol, the title, the author, and the publisher. The dust jacket has an illustration, designed by George Salter, of a set of train tracks disappearing into a tunnel, overlooked by a foggy, mountain horizon. A bright red orb, maybe a train light or stop light, glares in the middle of the cover. On the back of the dust jacket is a picture of Ayn Rand sitting in a window sill overlooking a city street, taken by Phyllis Cert. Transcription of front cover: AR Transcription of spine: ATLAS| SHRUGGED|AYN RAND| RANDOM HOUSE Transcription of dust jacket cover:ATLAS|SHRUGGED |A NOVEL BY|AYN RAND| Author of |THE FOUNTAINHEAD Transcription of dust jacket spine: ATLAS|SHRUGGED|AYN RAND| RANDOM HOUSE

12 Transcription of title page

ATLAS|SHRUGGED|AYN RAND| RANDOM HOUSE|NEW YORK| verso: FIRST PRINTING| copyright, 1957, by Ayn Rand, | All right reserved under International and Pan-American copyright | conventions. Published in New York by Random House, Inc. and | simultaneously in Toronto, Canada, by Random House of Canada, Limited. | Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 57-10033 | Manufactured in the United States of America | by H. Wolfe, New York

13 JPEG image of title page, if available

14 Manuscript Holdings

Papers of Ayn Rand, including the manuscripts of Atlas Shrugged, are held in the Library of Congress manuscript collection in Washington, DC Source: Library of Congress website http://lcweb.loc.gov/z3950/

15 Other (typograpical information from title page, etc.)

The book has a paper nameplate pasted in the inside front cover with the name Clifton Waller Barrett, a seal of some sort and a verse in latin ìHie Fructus Virtutisî which, roughly translated means ì Here virtue flowers".

Assignment 2: Publication and Performance History

1 Did the original publisher issue the book in more than one edition? If so, briefly describe distinguishing features of each (illustrations, cover art, typography, etc.); if not, enter N/A

I found no indications that Random House issued more than one edition of this book.

2 JPEG image of cover art from one subsequent edition, if available

3 JPEG image of sample illustration from one subsequent edition, if available

4 How many printings or impressions of the first edition?

Random House issued at least ten printings. I was unable to find specific dates of printings or statistics on how many books were in each printing. Source: www.bibliofind.com

5 Editions from other publishers? If so, list their dates and publishers; if not, enter N/A

Since 1957, the paperback edition has been printed by the parent company, NAL Dutton at least fifty-two times under various publishing groupís names including: Dutton, Dutton Truman, Mentor, Meridian Books, NAL Books, Obelisk, Onyx, Plume Books, Plume Truman Talley Books, ROC, Seymour Lawrence, Signet Books, Signet Classics, Signet Vista, Topaz, and William Dutton Abraham Books. These groups are now branches of the Penguin Group, which also has issued the paperback edition. The only distinct editions I found are below. 1957- Signet, 1,168 p. first paperback edition 1959- NAL Books, 1,086 p. 18cm 1985- Penguin Group, 1,075 p. 1985-Signet, 1,084 p. 18cm, with introduction by Leonard Peikoff 1992- Dutton, 1,168 p. 35th Anniversary edition, with introduction by Leonard Peikoff 1992- Dutton, 35th Anniversary edition, Hardcover, with introduction by Leonard Peikoff Other Publishers: 1957- International Collectors Library, Garden City, NJ 1,159 p. 22cm 1989- Easton Press, Norwalk, CT 1,168 p. 25 cm Sources: WorldCat, www.bibliofind.com, www.barnesandnoble.com

6 Last date in print?

Atlas Shrugged is still in print Source: www.amazon.com

7 Total copies sold? (source and date of information?)

As of 1965, 1,620,464 copies had been sold, 1,526, 507 were paperback. Source: Hackett, 70 Years of Bestsellers A 1991 book review written by Roy A. Childs mentions that over 5 million copies have been sold to date. Source: Laissez Faire Books: www.lfb.org/

8 Sales figures by year? (source and date of information?)

The first printing of 125,000 was rapidly sold out, and two weeks after it had been published in 1957, a second printing of 35,000 was issued to meet demand. Source: Publisherís Weekly, October 1957 Also in the back of my paperback copy of Atlas Shrugged (Signet, 1992), there is a "Guide to the Writings of Ayn Rand", which was written by the Ayn Rand Institute to promote her books. The ad copy describes the novel as "Ayn Rand's masterpiece. It integrates the basic elements of an entire philosophy into a highly complex, yet dramatically compelling plot-set in a near-future U.S.A. whose economy is collapsing as a result of the mysterious disappearance of leading innovators and industrialists. The theme is:"the role of the mind in man's existence-and, as corollary, the demonstration of a new moral philosophy: the morality of rational self interest."

9 Advertising copy (transcribe significant excerpts, briefly identify where ads were placed)

The only sales promotion I was able to find was a Random House advertisement that contained a calendar of all new books to be published in the fall of 1957. The ad merely listed Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand to be released in October. Source: Publisherís Weekly, September 1957

10 JPEG image of sample advertisement, if available

11 Other promotion

Ayn Rand and her philosophy of Objectivism have a great following that serves as publicity for Atlas Shrugged. The Ayn Rand Institute promotes her ideas and her novels through essay contests, public speakers, a newsletter and a web site. The institute publishes essays promoting the application of Randís philosophies to problems facing society today, making parallels to the society within the novel. The instituteís web site also contains links to other related sites and web pages of devoted followers. Source: The Ayn Rand Institute web site: www.aynrand.org/

12 Performances in other media? If so, list media, date, title, production information; if not, enter N/A

There are rumors of a movie in the making, but as of now no productions of Atlas Shrugged have been made. Source: www.aynrand.org/ Audio Book Productions: High Bridge Audio, 1995, read by Edward Herrmann Blackstone Audiobooks , 1991, read by Christopher Hirt Books on Tape, 1995, read by Kate Reading Source: www.bibliofind.com

13 Translations? If translated, give standard bibliographic information for each translation. If none, enter N/A

I found indications that the book was published worldwide, but I only found evidence of the following translations: Hebrew: Mered ha-nefilim Published by S. Fridman, Tel Aviv, 1999 1124p. 21cm German: Atlas wirft die Welt ab: Roman Published by Blanvalet, 1989 1324p. 22cm Braille: Atlas Shrugged Published by NAL Books, Rochester, NY, 1985 1084p. 18cm Spanish: La Rebellion de Atlas Published by (s.n.), 1961

14 Serialization? If serialized, give standard bibliographic information for serial publication. If none, enter N/A


15 Sequels/Prequels? Give standard bibliographic information for each. If none, enter N/A


Assignment 3: Biographical Sketch of the Author

1 Paste your biographical sketch here (maximum 500 words)

Ayn Rand was born as Alissa Rosenbaum on February 2, 1905 in Petrograd, Russia. During her childhood she witnessed the disintegration of the Romanov regime, the Bolshevik Revolution, and the great turmoil surrounding these events. She was one of several daughters of Fronz and Anna Rosenbaum. Her father was a wealthy chemist and pharmacist who was forced to work in a Soviet store because he was Jewish. Alissa was reading and writing by the age of six and by nine she knew she wanted to become a writer. She admired the work of Hugo and Dostoevski, their writings influenced her depiction of the heroic man (Current biography, p.332) She graduated from the University of Petrograd with a history degree when she was twenty-one. In 1926 Alissa traveled to the United States to stay with some family friends in Chicago. She saw America as a land of opportunity and achievement, a viewpoint which is reflected in her novels (Current Biography, p.332). Later that year, she moved to Hollywood and got a job as an extra to support her dreams of becoming a screenwriter. She changed her name soon after arriving in Hollywood. Rand was taken from her typewriter- a Remington-Rand (Seymour-Smith and Kimmens, p.2134). It was also in Hollywood that she met and married Frank O' Connor, an aspiring artist. She became a US citizen in 1931. During the 1930s she was a screenwriter for Universal Pictures, Paramount Pictures, and Metro-Goldwyn-Meyer. In 1934 a play she had written, Night of January 16, became a mildly successful Broadway performance. In 1936 her first novel was published, We the Living, a romance set in Soviet Russia, and then two years Anthem, a novelette, followed. Rand's writing and philosophies gained recognition with the publication of The Fountainhead, a bestseller based on the success and ideals of an architect. She followed with Atlas Shrugged in 1957, which explained her philosophy of Objectivism in more detail. Objectivism found a small cult following, and after she moved to New York City in 1951, she formed a weekly discussion group about her writings and philosophies. The group was called "The Class of ?43" and had such members as Alan Greenspan,the Chairman of the Federal Reserve, and Nathan Branden, a student who Rand had an affair with and who later wrote a biography of her. After 1951 she devoted her time to writing and lecturing on her philosophy, objectivism, which she promoted in newsletter- The Objectivist which later changed its name to The Ayn Rand Newsletter, and ended publication in 1974. Rand describes Objectivism as follows: "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 guide."(Current Biography, p.334). She lived alone on East 34th St in New York City after her husband's death in 1979 until her own death on March 6, 1982. The Library of Congress holds her papers. Leonard Peikoff, her intellectual heir, is responsible for the promotion of Objectivism, and does so with a website, newsletter, essay contests and speaking appearances that are often targeted to students. Rand's editor for Atlas Shrugged was Hiram Hayden. I was unable to find any information about her agent for the novel. Works Cited: Current Biography. New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1982, pages 331-335 Seymour-Smith and Kimmens, World Authors 1900-1950 Vol. III. New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1996. Pages 2134-2135

Assignment 4: Reception History

1 Paste contemporary reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

Atlas Shrugged received harshly negative reviews from almost all critics immediately after its publication, despite its popularity among the general public. Many critics were outraged that such a novel could be at the top of the bestseller lists, despite the fact that it violated all of the standard criteria for a great work of literature. Most intellectuals disagreed with her literary style, her academic ideals and her moral philosophy, as they found that very little was redeeming about the novel. The voice of the novel was described as arrogant and falsely pretentious, misleading the reader into believing that the novel was a highly intellectual work with a strong basis of fact. In fact, the academic population sees the philosophy that Rand promotes as absurdly impossible with no intelligent foundation. A review in Time magazine describes Rand's philosophy as being "based mostly on Nietzsche's inversion of all Christian values, with a mixture of Adam Smith's economics and David Hume's ethics, all carried to absurd extremes. Author Ayn Rand? is smashing the world with a half million words in order to rebuild it according to her own philosophy, and that philosophy must be read to be disbelieved." Even Rand's admiration of capitalism is distorted by the extreme economic situation illustrated in the novel. The author of the Time book review stated that "she could not have written a book better suited to the purpose" if she had set out "to destroy faith in capitalism" since she had not presented true capitalism, but a "hideous caricature". One of the most brutal reviews, written by Whittaker Chambers of National Review criticizes the novel with a variety of insults, including "silly", "bumptious", "preposterous", and "dictatorial". Rand was indignant upon hearing his review and denounced the periodical as " the worst and most dangerous magazine in America (Teachout p.69)". Critics also complained of the immense length of the novel and the tedious didactic digressions. Granville Hicks of the New York Times Book Review complained, "Not in any literary sense a serious novel, it is an earnest one, belligerent, and unrelenting in its earnestness. It howls in the reader's ear and beats him about the head in order to secure his attention, and then, when it has him subdued, harangues him for page upon page. It has only two moods, the melodramatic and the didactic, and in both it knows no bounds." Rand's prejudices towards individualism and atheism are apparent in her negative allusions towards Christian ethics and the welfare state; the entire concept of the strong helping the weak. Moral critics were offended by the suggested hatred of everything from taxes to Robin Hood excluding only the industrious, self-reliant, individual. It seems that the only group that was not offended by Atlas Shrugged was the general public. The few positive comments that were found praised Rand's entertaining manner of illustrating her philosophy for the audience of the everyday person. However that was exactly what enraged the academic population, they did not want the public to accept Rand's absurd belief system as their own just because her writing appeared to be academic. Sources: Blackman, Ruth Chapin. "Controversial Books by Ayn Rand and Caitlin Thomas: Atlas Shrugged," The Christian Science Monitor 10 Oct. 1957:13 Chambers, Whittaker. "Big Sister is Watching You," National Review 28 Dec. 1957 Current Biography New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1982 Donegan, Patricia. "A Point of View" Commonweal 8 Nov. 1957:155-156 Hicks, Granville. "A Parable of Buried Talents" The New York Times Book Review 13 Oct. 1957:4-5 Teachout, Terry. "The Goddess That Failed," Commentary July. 1986:68-72 Woodward, Helen Beal. "Non-Stop Daydream" The Saturday Review 21 Oct. 1957:25 "The Solid Gold Dollar Sign" Time 14 Oct. 1957 World Authors 1900-1950 Vol 3. New York: H.W. Wilson Company, 1996

2 Paste subsequent reception history in here (maximum 500 words)

Despite the novel's lasting popularity and influence, Atlas Shrugged was rarely mentioned in distinguished literary sources after the early sixties. Most established academics ignored Objectivism as a philosophy and dismissed Rand's work as literature, even though both were widely promoted. After Rand's death in 1982 and the anniversary reissuing of Atlas Shrugged in 1992, there was a mild resurgence of interest in Rand's work, and some critics began to admit that a novel that has been so popular for so long must not be too bad. The first surge of admirers included more radical activists who use Rand's extreme theories to support their beliefs on politics, the economy, liberty, and the individual. Libertarian Roy A. Childs praises the book, saying " It is a mystery story that doubles as a defense of reason, individualism, civilization, and capitalism. It is a hymn to human achievement, celebrating the spiritual roots of human greatness." Other reviewers are less enthusiastic, judging the value of the novel only by the public's demand, which has withstood almost four decades. Teachout admits, " If your definition of a "modern classic" is a book that sells briskly in both soft- and hard-cover editions a quarter-century after its publication, which deals with serious issues in a serious way, and which continues to stir up controversy as each succeeding generation discovers it, then- better brace yourself- Atlas Shrugged fills the bill" (National Review). The novels popularity cannot be denied; in a 1991 survey conducted by The Library of Congress and The Book of the Month Club found that Atlas Shrugged was named second only to the Bible as the most influential book of people's lives (Ybarra). It was also named on the list of the 100 Best Novels of the 20th Century compiled by the Modern Library panel, a division of Random House (Young). Claudia Roth Pierpont explains the appeal of the book to the public, "Not since the popular novels of almost a century before?had there appeared so vividly accessible and reassuring a guide for the cosmically perplexed." No matter how the attraction of the novel is explained, Atlas Shrugged has proven itself as a bestseller with high sales figures and enthusiastic public support. The longevity of this novel even has critics reconsidering, but not retracting their original harsh reviews. Sources: Childs, Roy A."Atlas Shrugged: A Review" Laissez Faire Books, http://www.lfb.org/ar8075.cfm. Nov. 1991 McDonald, Marci. "Fighting Over Ayn Rand," U.S. News &World Reports 9 Mar. 1998 Pierpont, Claudia Roth "Twilight of the Goddess" The New Yorker 24 July. 1995 Saxon, Wolfgang. Obituary, New York Times 7 Mar. 1982:36 Teachout, Terry. "Farewell, Dagny Taggert," National Review 14 May. 1982:566-67 Teachout, Terry. "The Goddess That Failed" Commentary July 1986:68-72 Ybarra, Michael J. "Preserving the Fountainhead" Los Angeles Times 16 Aug. 1998 Young, Cathy. "100-Best Books: Is the List too Elitist?" Detroit News 29 Jul. 1998

Assignment 5: Critical Analysis

1 Paste your critical analysis in here (maximum 2500 words)

The publication of Atlas Shrugged in 1957 was met with extreme reactions, both positive and negative. Few readers were able to react objectively; the novel was either loved or hated. The author, Ayn Rand, created a romantic mystery novel, structured to endorse her philosophy, Objectivism. The heroine, Dagny Taggert, controls a transcontinental railroad, and thrives on industrial achievement and innovation. She must battle to save her company amidst a disintegrating economy created by bureaucratic restrictions and freeloading socialism. Objectivism is illustrated through the story, in which Rand advocates capitalism, individualism, reason, and freedom. Literary critics and academics denounced Rand's philosophy and writing as mindless propaganda with no literary value. However, to their dismay, Atlas Shrugged climbed up the bestseller lists, holding the attention of many readers, and influencing and entertaining several generations. In a 1991 survey by the Library of Congress and The Book of the Month Club, Atlas Shrugged was named as one of the most influential books that Americans have ever read, second only to the Bible (Ybarra, 1998). The popularity of this novel lies in its appeal to the individual reader, a member of the general public, and not the academic community. It appealed especially to the idealistic young and college students. Literary critics insulted Rand's writing ability, claiming that the novel was merely a poorly crafted advertisement for her beliefs. Her characters were described as stereotypes, weak and two-dimensional, painted either as the "good guys" or the "bad guys", with no middle ground. With little character development, much of the 1,200-page book is spent detailing the dogma of Rand's philosophy. As a result, her writing has been described as rambling and repetitive. The Times book review complained that Rand's message was "hammered home in endless lecturing"(1957). This is especially true of Galt's interminable and didactic speech near the end of the novel. Her style is romantic in its long descriptions, yet it aggressively commands the reader to examine the message beneath the story. Critics claim that the plot is outlandish and unbelievable, especially the second part of the novel when Dagny finds a self-sufficient productive commune that proves to be the only remnant of order after the complete collapse of the nation. Enthusiastic readers were able to ignore the rough points of the novel by focusing on the story's deeper meaning and the significance of the philosophies that drive it. Objectivism is seen as a source of inspiration on how to live, succeed, and find happiness through achievement. The power of the individual is greatly inspiring to readers. The plot and the characters do not have to seem believable or well developed; it does not matter because they are mere vehicles of a much greater message. The protagonists, including Dagny and the other leading industrialists, are almost godlike in themselves, deities to be imitated and idolized. Atlas Shrugged did not have to follow any of the regular rules of literature because its spiritual and educational message creates a theme superior to that of most novels. Like much of Rand's work, Atlas Shrugged has been marketed towards the members of the general public who hope to increase the span of their knowledge. In an advertisement, Rand claims that her philosophy is, "intended for those who wish to assume the responsibility of becoming the new intellectuals." The ad copy goes on to say that such intellectuals are needed to solve the crisis that our nation faces. This type of marketing strategy has proven to be successful for almost fifty years, attracting students, aspiring scholars, and those desiring to save the nation, with the hint of revelation. The Ayn Rand Institute was established in 1985, three years after Rand's death in order to promote Objectivism and Rand's work. The institute stages protests and creates publicity for Objectivist interpretations of current event topics. A current focus of the organization is the Campaign Against Servitude, which opposes Clinton's attempt to increase community involvement and volunteering. ARI is very active among universities, attempting to attract young scholars with college campus clubs, essay contests, debates and speakers. The philosophy seems most appealing to a younger audience, still searching for a guide on how to live life. Claudia Roth Pierpont claimed that the popularity of the novel was due to "impassioned readers, emerging from the largely abandoned American class of thinking non-intellectuals-readers, who enjoyed the story and were excited or flattered to just to be put in touch with provocative ideas. If you didn't find the book ridiculous from a literary point of view, chances are you found it immensely stimulating (New Yorker 1996)." Rand claims that her philosophy illuminates metaphysics, ethics, epistemology, politics, and economics, all subject matters that few are well informed about, but many feel they should be knowledgeable in. Established intellectuals and great academics were offended by the content of the novel because some of Rand's interpretations misrepresent classic sources such as Aristotle and seem twisted to fit her own philosophy. Her illustrations are taken to such extreme situations that they no longer stay true to the original theory. Rand denounces the ideology behind communism and socialism, however she rejects these socialist systems for emotional reasons without sufficient attention to socialism as either an economic or a political system. She shows the demise of a nation that relies on these socialist movements, but she claims that the failure is because the systems suppress the individual greatness that each man can achieve, ignoring the inherent flaws of each system of government. The ethical system of Atlas Shrugged is based upon the productivity and the glory of the individual. Those who hang on to the coattails of the industrialists are killed or suffer greatly with the disintegration of the nation. The Darwinian theory of survival of the fittest is taken to a new extreme that some critics compare to genocide. Rand promotes man's ability for rational thought, professing that reason is the only way to gain knowledge. However some argue that she does not allow the reader that privilege. The bureaucrats and the free-riders are portrayed with an innate evilness that deserves no sympathy. This is not questioned, and no one may decide otherwise, there is a definite good and bad in the book. Some feel that Rand steers the audience forward with blinders, as if her readers were animals, not intelligent enough to see the whole picture without getting spooked. However proponents of the Objectivism philosophy have not been hindered by criticisms of the novel. In fact the negative publicity may have been exploited to generate more sales. The insults are seen as proof of the controversy that Rand's ground-breaking novel has created. All great intellects had to deal with such criticism, from Socrates to Galileo and Darwin. People were intrigued with reports of new ideas that the critics did not want them to read, and became that much more determined to do so. Fans of Atlas Shrugged could argue that those that did not agree with Rand were merely too ignorant to comprehend the great knowledge that had been bestowed upon them, or were not yet enlightened. Atlas Shruggedwas also immune to criticism because of the stress that the novel put on the strength of the individual. The protagonists of the novel are met with much criticism, however they never yield their beliefs to accommodate others. Dagny and Hank, the heroic industrialists, did not succumb when faced with disapproval for the production of the revolutionary Rearden steel. Rand's philosophy dictates that outside opinion is secondary, and validation must come from the self, thereby creating an innate defense for criticism of the novel. Readers believe that they are champions of a great cause that will bring them great rewards, despite being shunned by many. The groups of Objectivist supporters can join together for support, just as the great industrialists and innovators did at Galt's commune. The novel's focus on the importance of the individual should also be considered a factor its success. The confidence and strength of the heroes in times of adversity is inspiring. Readers are led to believe that if the rules of Objectivism are followed in the image of the book, their lives will be full of great achievement as well. The strength of the characters inspires belief in one's own potential, and has most likely been a confidence booster that has contributed to many people's success. The confident personality was illustrated to seem ideal, even though the confidence bordered on arrogance and selfishness. Egoism, best described by Rand as "intelligent self-interest" is the basis for morality in the doctrine of Objectivism. Rand believes that justice is found when an individual lives in a manner that upholds his own self interest as his first concern. In this way concerns for others can be subordinated to one's own interest, the government's significance is downgraded, and selfishness is considered benevolent. Those who were looking for justification for their selfish actions, or reassurance of their own importance need not look further than Rand's beliefs. In his fifty-six-page speech, John Galt chastises the nation for not living in an Objectivist manner. He preaches that one's own happiness is the only moral purpose of one's own life (Rand, 974). The novel provided an intellectual justification for acting for one's self-interest. The stress on individualism succeeds in undermining the significance of the government. Objectivism endorses laissez-faire capitalism as the only reasonable economic system, because it is the only system that properly recognizes individual rights, including property rights and provides self-reliant incentive that drives progress. In such a system, the only function of the government is to protect individual rights. Rand fervently opposed all forms of collectivism in government, especially communism, which controlled her homeland Russia. In Atlas Shrugged, the government's attempt to save the nation's economy by converting to a communist form of government fails miserably, pushing the country further into ruin. Rand is very outspoken about her aversion to socialism, devoting much of John Galt's fifty-six page speech to a discussion of the negative aspects the socialist system of government. Rand believes that collectivist forms of government disregard the strong, productive individual by not recognizing his achievement and not allowing him to enjoy the rewards of his own success. The industrialists in Atlas Shrugged are taken advantage of and under-appreciated until they no longer want to remain in the industry. Such communist governments discourage new innovation, because there is less of a reward to entice the amount of time and effort needed to develop new technology. Dagny found a self-generating motor, an invention with amazing potential, which was abandoned because Galt, the inventor, did not want to contribute such innovation to a communist society. Atlas Shrugged was published in the fifties, a time that was particularly receptive to an anti-Communist novel. The communist Soviet Union was rising in power after an allied victory in World War II; East Germany was now under communist control, and much of Eastern Europe was under the power of the Soviets. American anxiety was rising with the Soviets rise in power, turning into the paranoia of the Red Scare in the early fifties. Americans who were looking to justify the superiority of capitalism welcomed Rand's beliefs, as did those who wanted more reason to distrust communism. This sentiment continued throughout the duration of the Cold War, possibly contributing to the continued popularity of Rand's work. In recent years there has also been a reaction against income assistance programs promoted by the government. Since Franklin Delano Roosevelt's New Deal, more emphasis has been put on programs for the good of social welfare. The success of such programs has been debated, but many people feel strongly against such assistance programs, opposing any form of socialism. Rand herself endorsed this view, and, according to an advertisement from the Ayn Rand Institute, Objectivism theory states that, "[man] must live for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor sacrificing others to himself; he must work for his rational self-interest, with the achievement of his own happiness as the highest moral purpose of his life. Thus Objectivism rejects any form of altruism" (The Ayn Rand Institute, 1992). The basic structure of the Republican agenda follows many of the ideals of Objectivism. Republicans focus on cutting taxes, reducing spending, and lessening social assistance. During times of Republican power, such as the Reagan-Bush era of the eighties, government agreed more with the ideals of Objectivism. People that may not want to contribute tax money to the government to be used for Medicare, Social Security, and welfare programs, will agree with the doctrines of Atlas Shrugged. The Republicans also support Rand in the encouragement of big business. The heroes and heroines of Atlas Shrugged are all the heads of large companies. Rand supports achievement in industry and business, with the success evident in the growth of a company. The structure and beauty of a corporation is seen as a beautiful work of art and triumph. Businessmen, both aspiring and accomplished, would take great satisfaction in reading Atlas Shrugged for inspiration or a sense of accomplishment. The success of Atlas Shrugged may be attributed to many factors. The political and economic circumstances of the past fifty years may have encouraged Objectivism at times, leading readers to Rand's novels. America's current welfare state so closely approaches the extremes of classic socialism that Atlas Shrugged still appeals to a large mass of individualists. The marketing of The Ayn Rand Institute has made Objectivism and the works of Ayn Rand more visible in society and more available to readers. Atlas Shrugged fills a hole in many readers' lives, inspiring them with a philosophy for living, and providing an intellectual manifesto. For some, Atlas Shrugged answers the age-old question of the meaning of life. Life, according to Rand, must be lived in devotion to one's self. Man is so great that he is an end in himself, and that greatness is the purpose of life.

You are not logged in. (Sign in)