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Atlas Shrugged...Millions die in floods and quakes...Film at 11 - Kurt's Life (or lack thereof) [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Kurt Onstad

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Atlas Shrugged...Millions die in floods and quakes...Film at 11 [Jul. 31st, 2002|02:44 pm]
Kurt Onstad
So, I'm starting to write down various thoughts about Atlas Shrugged, mostly in comparison with Daniel Quinn's books (most notably, Ishmael). This entry is staying private until I finish the book, and finish writing this out. (EDIT: I never found my lost copy, so I never finished reading this, but because of another entry, I'm opening this up.)

This is mostly me writing my thoughts down in order to get them out where I can see them, and put them together in a way that makes sense for me. But, I'm sure that some people will still be curious as to my thoughts, so I'm leaving it public. But, this entry will assume that you have read both Atlas Shrugged and at least one of Daniel Quinn's books. If you haven't done so, I do recommend it. Both Rand and Quinn have interesting things to say which may change the way you look at the world, and even ignoring that, both are good fiction writers, although Atlas Shrugged takes a little while to get going.

The biggest issue I have with Atlas is that it contradicts the lesson that is at the very basis of Ishmael that I have taken to heart. That is that there is not one correct way to live. The characters of Atlas seem to have found the correct way to live. And yes, the society of Galt's Gulch works for them, but that doesn't mean it would work for everyone.

On a related note, another problem I have with the book is how it sets up a very black and white view of the world. It's very obvious who our heroes are and who the villains are. The heroes are the ones with no flaws, which as most any writer will tell you, is bad form. Even those things that originally may be interpreted as character flaws are, through the course of the book, illustrated to be the character traits that they are to be most admired for.

I can completely understand where Ayn was coming from when she wrote this. She started work on it in 1947, and it was first published in 1957. And she is a Russian-born immigrant who lived through the Bolshevik Revolution. Reading Atlas Shrugged, you can tell that it is very much an anti-Communist book, which makes complete sense for the time and for her experiences. Today, an anti-Communist speech comes off as, well, redundant.