The book I am reviewing for The Artful Reader’s Club for November is ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand (1957). For those of you who are unfamiliar with The Artful Reader’s Club (ARC) and you would like to learn more, please visit Darcy’s site: ART and SOLE – ARC and feel free to join in our fun.
ATLAS SHRUGGED was Rand’s fourth and final publication. It was also her longest book with 1168 pages. It was not well received, but has been growing popular in the decades to follow; particularly after it became a movie (in 3 parts – part 3 is slated to début in the summer of 2014). I enjoyed it and recommended for anyone who enjoys heady book filled with thought-provoking ideas. It is NOT an easy read; but, it is engaging with elements of mystery and a touch of romance. It is also, very philosophical and you will find pages filled with dialogue.
The main character, Dagny Taggart, is a strong female who runs Taggart Transcontinental Railroad as the Chief Executive of Operations (CEO). She is not just a figurehead, unlike her older brother, James, which you will grow to not only resent, but greatly dislike or even hate. Dagny spends much of the story “putting out fires” by resolving problems her brother and his political friends in Washington continue to create. Dagny is clearly the brains of the Taggart family, but she had to deal with the being dismissed because of her gender in a male dominated industry. As the story unfolds, you soon see that she is respected by the “right” people, the thinkers and those who know how to reason. Her brother and his gang would have you believe that she is only motivated to make money; while, he and his cohort are supposedly motivated to help “the people”.
Later in the book you will find that monies and resources are eventually distributed by need and not by merit. You will start to see how more and more people are less motivated to do their best because of the changes of policies. The conflicting philosophies in this book are: 1) nothing is anything; and, 2) everything is something.
The element of mystery comes when people started to equate the question, “why ask questions nobody can answer?” with “who is John Galt?” Dagny is affronted with “WHO is JOHN GALT?” by an engineer on HER railroad that could not answer her simple question of “how long do you propose we wait?” The engineer clearly did not recognize her. She soon begins to hate that question, as this becomes a question that is repeated to her as the story progresses. Dagny is determined to find John Galt, as well as, to find out what is happening to the country when the capable people start to disappear, erstwhile the ones who do not want to take responsibility and think begin to rise.
Soon the lead character, Hank Rearden comes into the story, who plays a significant role in Dagny’s quest. Rearden is painted in this book as an evil, money-making industrialist. Rearden is a businessman and industrialist involved in making steel and later Rearden metal. He believes not only in hard work; but, also in finding the best way to do things. He invented a revolutionary new metal alloy that is stronger and lighter than steel; furthermore, it is cheaper to make. This later becomes an object that his competitors deeply want any way they can. You will learn how little Rearden is interested in politics and political games…the antagonistic element of this book; and, how Rearden’s treacherous, mooching family and “friends” are involved in it.
Rand did a great job with character development and building her plot little by little. I enjoyed it. For some readers, this might bore them; but, I felt it added to the anticipation. I cannot wait to see the Atlas Shrugged, part 3 this summer. Below is my artwork for the book:
This art journal spread in a Strathmore Visual Journal (90 lb.) was created first with a light graphite sketch, then water color, color pencil, white and gold acrylic paint, black permanent marker, and glitter glue accent on the train headlight, in the dollar sign, and in John Galt’s and Dangy Taggart’s hair.
The next book I believe I will read and review for December is The Magic by Rhonda Byrne (2012), but that could change. For more Artful Reader’s Club book reviews for November, please go to this link: http://art-and-sole.blogspot.co.uk/2013/11/arc-november.html.
- Who are the Jim Taggerts, Lillian & Phillip Reardens? (gospelofbarney.wordpress.com)
- Some thoughts on Thanksgiving, from Ayn Rand (aynrandcenter.org)
- “The Hallmark of A Second Rater”; Insightful Quote by Ayn Rand. (deodatusblog.wordpress.com)
- Artful Reader’s Club: October Edition (blissfulart.wordpress.com)