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Saturday, 13 July 2013

Atlas Shrugged

I was going to finish the Krishna Coriolis series before moving on to other books, but I realized that I have to write an essay on Atlas Shrugged for a competition, and delaying further would not be a good idea.

I kept putting this off, because I thought that a book so famous, and supposed to contain the essence of Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism, would be dull and heavy. I feared that it would be like the other 'great' works I've read in the past two years: that it would be another God of Small Things. I feared that I would have to struggle to see the point, to convince myself of its greatness because the 'experts' said so and because I would have to write on it. The size scared me off, and the reputation made me apprehensive.

I was wrong.

Atlas Shrugged belied my every expectation. I find myself enraptured by it, engrossed by it, unable to put it down and unable to stop thinking about it. I sympathize so strongly with Dagny and Rearden that I cannot help but race along the book impatiently, flipping every once in a while to the 1069th page in despair. I cannot remember the last time I felt simultaneously that I needed to know how it ended and yet not want it to end. I do not know yet whether I agree or disagree with Ayn Rand's thinking, whether I agree partially, whether I disagree completely, but I know that Atlas Shrugged is a work of brilliance, truly a 'masterwork,' an awe-inspiring achievement that I will revisit many times hence, and that will inspire thought in me that will never cease, because there is so much to think about and so much to admire. I bow down before a mind so immense that it can write a book 1069 pages long, with a plot so compelling that I am bewitched by it. There may be flaws in Ayn Rand's philosophy. There must definitely be critics of it. But I am not far enough away yet to look at her work dispassionately, so I am sure that what I am writing right now must read as a tribute to her literary merit. Perhaps after a while, when I have finished reading and had time to think of other things, I can look at it more objectively, but right now I am in thrall of Rand's immediate message, of her belief that a man is '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.'