This week marks the 110th anniversary of Ayn Rand’s birth (1905-1982). While I am not a huge fan of the dystopian genre (yes I have read The Hunger Games and Divergent but I just didn’t love them), Ayn Rand’s Anthem had a HUGE impact on me in high school. For those of you unfamiliar with the term dystopian Wikipedia describes it as:
A dystopia (from the Greek δυσ- and τόπος, alternatively, cacotopia, kakotopia, or anti-utopia) is a community or society that is in some important way undesirable or frightening. It is literally translated as “not-good place”, an antonym of utopia. Such societies appear in many artistic works, particularly in stories set in a future. Dystopias are often characterized by dehumanization, totalitarian governments, environmental disaster, or other characteristics associated with a cataclysmic decline in society. Dystopian societies appear in many sub-genres of fiction and are often used to draw attention to real-world issues regarding society, environment, politics, economics, religion, psychology, ethics, science, and/or technology, which if unaddressed could potentially lead to such a dystopia-like condition.
Anthem was an assigned reading for one of my English classes (I don’t remember which one) and I was blown away with the realization of how powerful language could be upon a society. When you take away a person’s ability to learn, to innovate, and to think in terms outside of a collective society you take away who they are and what makes them human. I’m sure I read novels with this concept before reading Anthem but for some reason this concept really hit home that time. Anthem is one of those books I usually read at least once a year because it is just that fabulous. For those of you haven’t had the pleasure of reading this thought provoking book I highly recommend you do. It isn’t very long (definitely not the volume that Atlas Shrugged is) and it is in the public domain which means you can legally download and read it for free here.