I am... absolutely and irrefutably... in love with this book. To some, the density of the philosophical and political message that it ties in together to create its essential and beautifully profound whole may be too much to endure. It's a monstrosity of a book, absolutely huge in length and in the worldview it offers, but for those who venture to endure it, to enter its world and see it all the way through, there is the greatest hope and reward a human being can ask to receive from a work. There is, greater than anything else, a path to the meaning in one's own life... sealed in this book's passionate, deep, slow but certain stance. It is a book that will take you from out of the filth of untruths and deception, baseness and corruption that fills this world--OUR world, TODAY--and it will show you its exact replica, without any of the veils! Without the fanciful and airy words to conceal the vulgarity of what our world -really- is and is going through! It's a novel that was written on a philosophy that could be termed extreme... but in the end, embraces as its one platform of belief the willingness to face the truth, no matter the consequences, and to stand boldly before the entire human world; to say: "I am... I dare you to deny me!"
It is a piece of literature that for me, personally, became a breath of fresh air. It was like breathing for the first time! It was like being given water in the midst of a desert where I had laid long and knew I was dying, -dying- for a sign of the vivid, brilliant truth! The longing for a mind of intelligence! The inescapable screaming of my -soul- to find and to meet with someone -else- that understood my passions! My drive! My desires! My LOVE for LIFE and my sorrow at finding no one else to share with me my vigor for achieving great things--my Dreams!--in this world! What this book offered me, during my reading, was an experience. A chance to know that throughout the veils of illusion and self-deception, there are figures of greatness that still exist; and they exist on the principles that they have achieved because they would not let anything get in their way. They achieved because they -thought-, they trusted themselves and their minds... and nothing could refute that because they would not let them.
For many, this would be a novel that would not only come off as dull, but as disgusting. It is long, and it is hard. It is always dancing on the brink of political messages, but what comes through even more vibrantly are the efforts of good, old-fashioned businessmen in their attempts to survive in the world. It sounds dull, yes? Yet the concept, though inexplicably "dry" to some, is magnificent in its explanation. It follows mostly the story of a youthful businesswoman who reached the very top of the ladder, and her efforts to save her railroad. So simple... yet in her fight to protect everything she holds dear, to hold on to that dream, she has to face the world in all its depravity and pretended righteousness as it slowly strips from her every right and pleasure she is given, has and desires. She does not know why everything she loves is being taken away; she does not know why the government and others are taking away her right to live her life and succeed. If man told you when and how to breathe, when and how to walk, when and how to bathe and eat and sleep, when and how to enjoy the things you loved... told you to sacrifice your hard-earned pleasures for someone else who did -not- earn them... would you be upset? Would you be provoked to insult and dismay? ...would you fight to keep what was rightfully yours? Not just your possessions, but your choices for what actions to take and what you deem your own personal joys...? Would you fight for your very mind, for your free will? This is the fight that is embodied in this descriptive, crystal clear depiction of a struggle for our freedoms: our rights to think and to LIVE! Any feeling, self-conscious being cannot read this and not be moved. It begs for one's heart to stir! One's mind to leap! One's body to jump up and shout, to stand for what the mind knows and all that it believes!
The characters... they are separated into two groups: the great thinkers and producers of the world, and those who live off of them. The first group, of which there are very few, are people like the main character. They are the pinnacles in the ocean, the very stars in the sky. Some complain that they are too steady, that they do not change much over the book. But I argue against this. Though they may not have huge leaps of character development, they are standing at the peak of a mountain and struggling to keep there, struggling to survive. You see their minds torn, their souls begging to be met with those that might help them--or you see their proud stance, refusing help, knowing and desiring to be able to do it! But still struggling, fighting to stay true to themselves and what they love, what they've created from scratch... over years of labor, sweat, tears, thought. We see men at their greatest, and we know they are great because every lean forwards, or every sway backwards shakes us, sways us, makes us dread the fall of these that reached the top. They all go through it. They all remain constant, but in a way that expresses just how strong they are... and makes their weaknesses all the more powerful, because they feel, like we do, that those are the weaknesses that we -all- have, and we (like they) don't understand why they -should- be seen as weaknesses. Following these incredible characters, characters that you cannot help respecting and admiring, let alone falling in love with (and oh... how hard--impossible I would say!--it is not to fall in love with every single one of them), people like Fransisco and Hank, Ragnar and John... these are the people that shake your heart as you read, and you realize that they're the ones each of us, somewhere inside ourselves, wants to be like or to see reach those heights if we can't! Because they show us that those heights -are- obtainable, and they make our hearts soar with delight, knowing that someone was able to accomplish what generations and centuries of people before said was impossible. They made it! And now we read, in this story, as the last of them try to survive. Try to survive... and slowly, steadily... disappear. Disappear to leave us all dying... drowning... and never tell us where they've gone, and with no way for us to follow. Would this not shake the hearts of anyone?! To lose our men and women of wonder and beauty! Of power and intelligence and accomplishment! To who would we look up to if we did not have them?
The second group of people... they're the ones that make me sick to my stomach. Reading their parts always made me pause in this book, sometimes putting it down for days or weeks, because I couldn't get beyond how disgusting and sick, and -low- they were. "THESE are people?!" I cried out, "THESE are the men who run our government?! Who we're supposed to trust with OUR rights and OUR freedoms?!" Watching their depravity, and seeing it every single day... mirrored in the news overseas or otherwise, makes you want to shudder... and it makes you want to stand up and scream at them, "Do you realize what you're DOING?!" You do not need to "read" about the way people can become evil, can degenerate into the the most vicious and cruel, despicable forms that mankind is horrendously capable of achieving! You SEE it, and you EXPERIENCE it all for yourself! It's all right there, and it's HORRIBLE to go through! It drove me mad to go through those parts with these stupid, lunatic fools saying things that are purposefully destroying our world! And they think they're HELPING?! It's madness! Horrible, violent, ugly--and encompassed in the one word I found myself crying in my mind the more and more I read of it: Evil! Pure and unblemished, this book shows you greatness! It shows you majesty and wonders! But it shows you evil... the darkest, deepest, most relevant form of evil in our world today, and in Ayn Rand's world when she wrote of it. It's powerful beyond my words to express it.
I'm struggling, absolutely struggling, to carry over my feelings and thoughts about this work! I know them! They rage inside me as truths and knowledge I have gained that are worth more than almost anything else I have within me! But because this book has taught me that I -can- live only for myself and my desires, I will not say that this rules me, or that it ranks the highest of all my thoughts and loves. It does, however, hold in my mind the highest respect, placed there along with all the other things I love most dearly in my life. Because of the examples it has taught me, not in words, but by -showing- them to me, and allowing me to perceive and -fully- understand the whole of the situation, I have grown and learned so much. All I can say in the end, is "Thank you," to Ayn Rand for writing this.
Some may think that I should not recommend this book to many people, since it seems so narrow and so "high and mighty." But this is something that I would say is an experience that--if you choose not to let it affect you or open your eyes--is a masterpiece in the world of literature and thought that you should nonetheless give a chance. It is a creation that has captured the essence of our world perfectly, and given it you in the clearest, most accurately represented picture I have ever seen out of the hundreds of books and many ideologies I have read. It is a priceless--Priceless.--addition to any reader's collection, and to balance out the perhaps very -real world- method of presenting its message, it has characters that are gorgeous and powerful, that stand out as beacons of light and that show you, in unblemished beauty, the magnificence of what being human -is-, and more so, what being free to do and think and experience the world as you please is like for those with the courage to do it. It gives you, in exchange for its setting, the majesty of love, happiness, devotion, and desire that graces each of our hearts, and the credible magnitude of what those emotions feel like when they are followed, when they are experienced, when there's not a trace of guilt or denial to accompany them. It's the beauty of -being- without the grit of "should's," "could's," "need to's," "have to's," "but's," "can I's," and so many more there to interfere. It gives you romance; it gives you accomplishment; it gives you disaster; it gives you denial; it gives you inhuman brutality; it gives you overcoming and perseverence; and it gives you the power to fight and stand on your own... for what you believe in, and for what you love.
It's the story of any one of us... without letting the world get in our way. Why would anyone -not- want to experience this? It may be long, it may be dry in parts... but it's your choice whether you want to make the effort. I trust in this novel's power to change you, and to give you -life- where before you may not have known how or why to take it. Don't be afraid of giving it a chance, no matter how it may change you. You'll always be yourself, if you choose not to deny yourself. The characters will keep you going. Their strength, their beauty, and their -love- will carry you. Read this. It's worth every second spent.