"Atlas Shrugged" is first published in 1957 in the United States. Rand's fourth and last novel, it was also her longest, and the one she considered to be her magnum opus in the realm of fiction writing. Atlas Shrugged includes elements of romance,mystery and science fiction, and it contains Rand's most extensive statement of Objectivism in any of her works of fiction.
The book explores a dystopian United States where many of society's most productive citizens refuse to be exploited by increasing taxation and government regulations and go on strike. The refusal evokes the imagery of what would happen if the mythological Atlas refused to continue to hold up the world. They are led by John Galt. Galt describes the strike as ""stopping the motor of the world"" by withdrawing the minds that drive society's growth and productivity. In their efforts, these people ""of the mind"" hope to demonstrate that a world in which the individual is not free to create is doomed, that civilization cannot exist where every person is a slave to society and government, and that the destruction of the profit motive leads to the collapse of society. The protagonist, Dagny Taggart, sees society collapse around her as the government increasingly asserts control over all industry.
The novel's title is a reference to Atlas, a Titan of Greek mythology, who in the novel is described as ""the giant who holds the world on his shoulders"". The significance of this reference is seen in a conversation between the characters Francisco d'Anconia and Hank Rearden, in which d'Anconia asks Rearden what sort of advice he would give to Atlas upon seeing that ""the greater [the titan's] effort, the heavier the world bore down on his shoulders"". With Rearden unable to answer, d'Anconia gives his own response: ""To shrug"".
The theme of Atlas Shrugged, as Rand described it, is ""the role of man's mind in existence"". The book explores a number of philosophical themes that Rand would subsequently develop into the philosophy of Objectivism. It advocates the core tenets of Rand's philosophy of Objectivism and expresses her concept of human achievement. In doing so, it expresses many facets of Rand's philosophy, such as the advocacy of reason, individualism, capitalism, and the failures of government coercion.
Atlas Shrugged received largely negative reviews after its 1957 publication, but achieved enduring popularity and consistent sales in the following decades.
The New York Times has called it “one of the most influential business books ever written.” Intellectuals have recoiled from its message of greed; “do-good” liberals and conservatives alike have slammed it as an homage to egoism and immorality. Published over 50 years ago, Atlas Shrugged continues to elicit such strong emotional reactions because - to put it simply - it’s a good book, and that’s what good books do.
Good book though it is, Atlas Shrugged is indeed much more than a brain-tickling read about a dystopian world overrun by a crippling combination of economic injustice, a misinformed public, and a misdirected, meddlesome government. It is Ayn Rand’s timeless philosophical manifesto about the importance of purpose, reason, and self-interest in a world full of people eager to avoid responsibility and work in exchange for plagiarizing and profiting from the genius and toil of others.
When you hold Atlas Shrugged in your hands, it’s not hard to believe you’re holding a volume of enormous influence: it’s a whopping 1,100 pages long. But this is no ordinary “business book”: It’s a dynamic story buzzing with creativity, imagination and a cast of intensely lovable – and hatable – characters stuck in a warped era of time.
Ayn Rand (born Alisa Zinov'yevna Rosenbaum, February 2, 1905 – March 6, 1982) was a Russian-American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter. She is known for her two best-selling novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged and for developing a philosophical system she called Objectivism.
Born and educated in Russia, Rand moved to the United States in 1926. She worked as a screenwriter in Hollywood and had a play produced on Broadway in 1935–1936. After two initially unsuccessful early novels, she achieved fame with her 1943 novel The Fountainhead. In 1957, she published her best-known work, the philosophical novel Atlas Shrugged. Afterward she turned to nonfiction to promote her philosophy, publishing her own magazines and releasing several collections of essays until her death in 1982.
Rand advocated reason as the only means of acquiring knowledge and rejected all forms of faith and religion. She supported rational egoism and rejected ethical altruism. In politics, she condemned the initiation of force as immoral and opposed all forms of collectivism and statism, instead supporting laissez-faire capitalism, which she believed was the only social system that protected individual rights. She promoted romantic realism in art. She was sharply critical of most other philosophers and philosophical traditions.
The reception for Rand's fiction from literary critics has historically been mixed and polarizing, with extreme opinions both for and against her work commonly being expressed. Nonetheless, she continues to have a popular following, as well as a growing influence among scholars and academics. Rand's political ideas have been influential among libertarians and conservatives. The Objectivist movement attempts to spread her ideas, both to the public and in academic settings.
Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Rand developed and promoted her Objectivist philosophy through her nonfiction works and by giving talks to students at institutions such as Yale University, Princeton University, Columbia University, Harvard University and MIT. She received an honorary doctorate from Lewis & Clark College in 1963. She also began delivering annual lectures at the Ford Hall Forum, responding afterward to questions from the audience. During these speeches and Q&A sessions, she often took controversial stances on political and social issues of the day. These included supporting abortion rights, opposing the Vietnam War and the military draft (but condemning many draft dodgers as "bums"), supporting Israel in the Arab-Israeli War of 1973 as "civilized men fighting savages", saying European colonists had the right to take land from American Indians, and calling homosexuality "immoral" and "disgusting", while also advocating the repeal of all laws against it. She also endorsed several Republican candidates for President of the United States, most strongly Barry Goldwater in 1964, whose candidacy she promoted in several articles for The Objectivist Newsletter.
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