Ayn Rand (1905-1982) was a prolific writer during the 20th century and largely busied herself with science-fiction. Anthem is one of her most famous works and is a novella which was published in 1938 (the year before 1939). Her real name was Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum and she identified as Russian-American – during her life, she dabbled with sci-fi novels, philosophy, and screenplays.
You might have heard of Atlas Shrugged, for instance, which is one of her famous works, but it’s Anthem which appears to receive the most attention in literary circles. A dystopian tale of a future world where humankind is suffering under a Dark Age and individuality has been wiped out, the story centres on main man Equality 7-2521 who, in a world of tedious mundanity, makes a spur of the moment decision to cement his personality. You go girl.
Although we’re utterly drenched in existential dystopian novels, graphic novels, TV shows, and films these days, Rand (and other writers such as Aldous Huxley, Yevgeny Zamyatin, and George Orwell) was one of the first to take the idea of a hellish future and spin it out to scare the cripes out of readers. It’s horror fiction, in a way, but one which provokes you to think. Usually, this line of thought is, “Wow, that reality would be awful” before you go back to stuffing crisps into your face and watching Netflix.
Anyway, the plot! Equality 7-2521, a man unusually driven in his world to scientific discovery, spends his spare time carrying out illegal research. He also has a relationship on the go, but when his activity is discovered he has to leg it into the wilderness and go into hiding. Having discovered their individualism, the pair plots and schemes on starting a new society which will allow free will and personalities. What a stupid ideology, eh!?
The book was published in England first and it wasn’t until the success of her future work that Anthem was released elsewhere (as a revised version in America, for instance, in 1946). It’s a short novella, by the way, so if you want to expand your library a touch then this is well worth your time as a forerunner to several of the 20th centuries finest novels.
Like the morons we are, we accidentally purchased online a graphic novel adaptation of the novella. That’s £3 we won’t see again. Evidently, Charles Santino and Joe States have never played a Legend of Zelda game, as the front cover is a bit of a plagiarism epidemic, we’re afraid. Either this or it’s some weird homage – whatever, the above was published in 2011 as a tribute and adaptation of the novella.
Anyway, if you prefer comics to books then maybe this is the one for you, although we’ve never been major fans of graphic novels since so, you know, didn’t rate it much. All we’re suggesting is it might be your cup of tea, eh?