It is hard to write any kind of criticism on a book so well-known and so controversially accepted as Atlas Shrugged, the magnum opus of Russian-born American writer Ayn Rand aka Alisa Rosenbaum. It, however, only makes the matter more interesting.
This novel can be called magnificent because of its size alone; being almost as long as the Bible, it is up to date one of the longest, if not the longest work of fiction written in English. The action being set in a version of alternative history of the XX century where most of the world’s nations have turned into socialist People States with the USA being the last capitalist country in the world. It, surprisingly, doesn’t go on describing the war between the two systems. Socialism being in Ayn Rand’s terms a synonym of death and decay, the people’s states wage no war – they slowly fester, feeding on the assistance, provided by the USA that slowly gets more and more like them.
The storyline follows the idea of the strike of men of reason, the individuals and individualists who move the progress forward, but are constantly denounced by the masses that are incapable of thinking and producing. It is their strike that finally destroys the world known to us and leaves the space clear for building the new one.
This novel can hardly be called a novel – it is a kind of an enormous allegory that expresses the author’s view on economics, philosophy and life in general. And, while it is hard to argue with most of Rand’s ideas, the way of presenting them is very often overly verbose. This, however, doesn’t make this book less important.