Scathing Book Reviews of Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand has produced two immortal questions. The first is “Who is John Galt?”, which the book answers. The second is “How the heck do you pronounce ‘Ayn'”? The book is over 1000 pages long, and can be seen primarily as an expression of political philosophy rather than a true “novel”. Atlas Shrugged was Ayn Rand’s last work of fiction, and has the dubious distinction of being #13 on the list of longest novels ever written in a European Language, with 1168 pages and over 645,000 words. The audio book version is over 52 hours long. The novel has quite a following among those that share its mindset (and have the endurance), but these reviewers shrug off its reputation:

Was there ever a more vile and monstrous piece of literary excrement foisted upon the world? I don’t know of one. Rand claimed to look up to Hugo, well she must have used a very big telescope to even catch a glimpse of him.

…and:

Considering this as a novel, it’s blessed awful. Droning prose (that goes on for FAR too long in MANY passages), and a plot that reads like a self-indulgent persecution fantasy.

…and:

I sometimes wonder what sort of childhood abuse in her native Russia could have warped Rand so seriously.

…and:

I shrugged when I read it. The English looked like it had been fed through Babelfish and had passed through Mongolian, Kurdish and Quechua before being reluctantly returned to English. Unbelievable that someone could deliberately write anything so turgid.

…and:

Ms. Rand attempts to make up in volume what she lacks in talent, and that makes for a series of very tedious evenings for the casual reader.

…and:
Reading Ayn Rand is like hitting onself over the head with a brick: it feels better when you stop.

…and from the Department of Similies:

Rand is all energy but no fire. All blabber but no meaning. All tedium with no release. Like a word processor on auto-mode spewing lines of prose at random. Like a public address system describing how to operate an internal combustion engine.

4 Responses

  1. Atlas Shrugged contains ideas that few writers attempt to explore, especially in the field of fiction. Those authors that do, are usually diametrically opposed to Ayn Rand’s viewpoint. Rand believes what she writes and exhaustively validates her views by tackling them from every possible perspective. Its a big subject and therefore a big book, – certainly not a casual read, but if it captures your attention long enough, be prepared to be changed!

  2. Ditto to what Teddy said…

    Responding to: “can be seen primarily as an expression of political philosophy rather than a true “novel””

    So it’s a “fake” novel? What do you feel makes a novel “true”?

  3. By “true” I mean the intent to tell a story simply to tell a story, rather than to use the characters and situations to communicate a political message.

    Andrew Greeley’s “White Smoke” is a good example of a “less than true” novel, because all the good characters share Greeley’s expressed point of view on the Catholic Church, and all the bad characters don’t. The book, in and of itself, is pretty silly, with the puppet strings for all the character’s actions showing. One gets the feeling that he didn’t write the book primarily to tell a story, but to put forth a point of view on the leadership of the Catholic Church.

    In the case of “Atlas”, its probably safe to say that since it includes a 50+ page speech verbatim, as delivered by one of the characters, there was more on Rand’s mind than “Boy meets Girl”.

  4. […] this review, excerpted at length. I’ll lay odds he’s an Ayn Rand […]

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