Atlas Shrugged: Reassessment #1

Reflecting on the tenor of my summations of the last few chapters, it occurs to me that perhaps I have been less generous to Atlas Shrugged than I had originally intended to be. It is, after all, merely a book; perhaps Rand had meant it in the same way that Rearden had meant his metal, as a new sort of work that vaguely resembles the existing work but is far in advance of it, but despite that, it’s still a book.

Nothing exists in a vacuum, though. I have my baises, Rand had hers, my friends have theirs. That said, I think I’m trying too had to dislike Atlas Shrugged in the fear that I’ll like it and, in so doing, be reviled by those who think the Cool Kids all hate it. Also, in the fear that I’ll like it not because I really do, but to spite those who would revile me for doing so.

I do think much of Rand’s characterizations are laughably simplistic and (shocker!) self-serving. Right now, I’m reading through James’s altruistic preening to the shopgirl, a scene that strikes me as being oddly reminiscent of “Wanna take a bath? Are you feeling okay?” from Pink Floyd’s The Wall.

Even so, I’d rather go back to striving to have personal responses to the book, as much as possible, rather than letting my words and tone be shaped by what I think other people might want to see me write.

Will my refreshed commitment last a chapter or ten, or the rest of the book? Stay tuned if you’re interested.

Also, something I’ve been meaning to say but have heretofore failed to. It took me a while to put my finger on it. I think what’s misled me about Atlas Shrugged is that it initially felt like it was intended to be a contemporary and realistic work of fiction; treating it that way, it fails, at least so far. However, treating it as a near-future (to the 1950s) or AE allegory, its various conceits are not quite as distracting. My goal is to approach future comments from this latter perspective, at least until something in the book demonstrates that this approach is incorrect.

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