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Branden, Nathaniel Fall Letters of Ayn Rand. October 14, Archived from the original on February 10, It was the first time Rand had worked with a publisher whose executives seemed truly enthusiastic about one of her books. It suffered one of the worst openings ever among films in wide release:
After speaking with a few other publishers, of about a dozen who were interested, Rand decided multiple submissions were not needed; she offered the manuscript to Random House. Upon reading the portion Rand submitted, Cerf declared it a "great book" and offered Rand a contract. It was the first time Rand had worked with a publisher whose executives seemed truly enthusiastic about one of her books. Random House published the novel on October 10, The initial print run was , copies.
The first paperback edition was published by New American Library in July , with an initial run of , Dutton in , with an introduction by Rand's legal heir, Leonard Peikoff. The novel has been translated into more than 25 languages. The working title throughout its writing was The Strike , but thinking this title would have revealed the mystery element of the novel prematurely,  Rand was pleased when her husband suggested Atlas Shrugged , previously the title of a single chapter, for the book.
The significance of this reference appears in a conversation between the characters Francisco d'Anconia and Hank Rearden , in which d'Anconia asks Rearden what advice he would give Atlas upon seeing "the greater [the titan's] effort, the heavier the world bore down on his shoulders".
With Rearden unable to answer, d'Anconia gives his own response: The novel is divided into three parts consisting of ten chapters each. Robert James Bidinotto said, "the titles of the parts and chapters suggest multiple layers of meaning. The three parts, for example, are named in honor of Aristotle's laws of logic Part One is titled 'Non-Contradiction' Part Two, titled 'Either-Or' Atlas Shrugged is set in a dystopian United States at an unspecified time, in which the country has a "National Legislature" instead of Congress and a "Head of State" instead of a President.
The government has increasingly extended its control over businesses with increasingly stringent regulations. The United States also appears to be approaching an economic collapse , with widespread shortages , constant business failures , and severely decreased productivity. Writer Edward Younkins said, "The story may be simultaneously described as anachronistic and timeless. The pattern of industrial organization appears to be that of the late s—the mood seems to be close to that of the depression-era s.
Both the social customs and the level of technology remind one of the s". The countries of the world are implied to be organized along vaguely Marxist lines, with references to "People's States" in Europe and South America. Characters also refer to nationalization of businesses in these "People's States", as well as in America. The economy of the book's present is contrasted with the capitalism of 19th century America, recalled as a lost Golden Age.
Dagny Taggart , the Operating Vice President of railroad company Taggart Transcontinental, attempts to keep the company alive against collectivism and statism amid a sustained economic depression.
While economic conditions worsen and government agencies enforce their control on successful businesses, people are often heard repeating the cryptic phrase "Who is John Galt? It sarcastically means: Her brother James , the railroad's president, seems to make irrational decisions, such as preferring to buy steel from Orren Boyle's unreliable Associated Steel, rather than Hank Rearden 's Rearden Steel.
Dagny attempts to ignore her brother and pursue her own policies. She soon realizes that d'Anconia is actually taking advantage of the investors by building worthless mines. Despite the risk, Jim and his allies at Associated Steel invest a large amount of capital into building a railway in the region while ignoring the more crucial Rio Norte Line in Colorado , where the rival Phoenix-Durango Railroad competes by transporting supplies for Ellis Wyatt, who has revitalized the region after discovering large oil reserves.
Dagny minimizes losses on the San Sebastian Line by placing obsolete trains on the line, which Jim is forced to take credit for after the line is nationalized as Dagny predicted.
Meanwhile, in response to the success of Phoenix-Durango, the National Alliance of Railroads, a group containing the railroad companies of the United States, passes a rule prohibiting competition in economically-prosperous areas while forcing other railroads to extend rail service to "blighted" areas of the country, with seniority going to more established railroads.
The ruling effectively ruins Phoenix-Durango, upsetting Dagny. Wyatt subsequently arrives in Dagny's office and presents her with a nine-month ultimatum: In Philadelphia , Hank Rearden, a self-made steel magnate, has developed an alloy called Rearden Metal, which is simultaneously lighter and stronger than conventional steel.
Rearden keeps its composition secret, sparking jealousy among competitors. Dagny opts to use Rearden Metal in the Rio Norte Line, becoming the first major customer to purchase the product. As a result, pressure is put on Dagny to use conventional steel, but she refuses.
Hank's career is hindered by his feelings of obligation to his wife, mother, and younger brother. After Hank refuses to sell the metal to the State Science Institute, a government research foundation run by Dr. Robert Stadler, the Institute publishes a report condemning the metal without actually identifying problems with it. As a result, many significant organizations boycott the line. Although Stadler agrees with Dagny's complaints over the unscientific tone of the report, he refuses to override it.
Dagny also becomes acquainted with Wesley Mouch , a Washington lobbyist initially working for Rearden, whom he betrays, and later notices the nation's most capable business leaders abruptly disappearing, leaving their industries to failure.
The most recent of these is Ellis Wyatt, who leaves his most successful oil well spewing petroleum and fire into the air later named "Wyatt's Torch". Each of these men remains absent despite a thorough search by politicians. Having demonstrated the reliability of Rearden Metal in a railroad line named after John Galt, Hank and Dagny become lovers, and later discover, among the ruins of an abandoned factory, an incomplete motor that transforms atmospheric static electricity into kinetic energy , of which they seek the inventor.
Eventually, this search reveals the reason for business leaders' disappearances: Dagny's private plane crashes in their hiding place, an isolated valley known as Galt's Gulch.
While she recovers from her injuries, she hears the strikers' explanations for the strike, and learns that Francisco is one of the strikers. Galt asks her to join the strike. Reluctant to abandon her railroad, Dagny leaves Galt's Gulch. But Galt follows her to New York City , where he hacks into a national radio broadcast to deliver a long speech 70 pages in the first edition to explain the novel's theme and Rand's Objectivism.
The novel closes as Galt announces that they will later reorganize the world. The story of Atlas Shrugged dramatically expresses Rand's ethical egoism , her advocacy of " rational selfishness ", whereby all of the principal virtues and vices are applications of the role of reason as man's basic tool of survival or a failure to apply it: Rand's characters often personify her view of the archetypes of various schools of philosophy for living and working in the world.
Robert James Bidinotto wrote, "Rand rejected the literary convention that depth and plausibility demand characters who are naturalistic replicas of the kinds of people we meet in everyday life, uttering everyday dialogue and pursuing everyday values. But she also rejected the notion that characters should be symbolic rather than realistic. My characters are persons in whom certain human attributes are focused more sharply and consistently than in average human beings".
In addition to the plot's more obvious statements about the significance of industrialists to society, and the sharp contrast to Marxism and the labor theory of value , this explicit conflict is used by Rand to draw wider philosophical conclusions, both implicit in the plot and via the characters' own statements. Atlas Shrugged caricatures fascism , socialism , communism , and any state intervention in society, as allowing unproductive people to "leech" the hard-earned wealth of the productive, and Rand contends that the outcome of any individual's life is purely a function of its ability, and that any individual could overcome adverse circumstances, given ability and intelligence.
The concept "sanction of the victim" is defined by Leonard Peikoff as "the willingness of the good to suffer at the hands of the evil , to accept the role of sacrificial victim for the ' sin ' of creating values".
If it turned out to be me, I have no right to complain". John Galt further explains the principle: Rand's view of the ideal government is expressed by John Galt: At the end of the book, when the protagonists get ready to return and claim the ravaged world, Judge Narragansett drafts a new Amendment to the United States Constitution: He is also "marking and crossing out the contradictions" in the Constitution's existing text.
In the world of Atlas Shrugged, society stagnates when independent productive agencies are socially demonized for their accomplishments. This is in agreement with an excerpt from a interview with Playboy magazine, in which Rand states: The action in Atlas Shrugged takes place at a time when society has reached the stage of dictatorship.
When and if this happens, that will be the time to go on strike, but not until then". Rand also depicts public choice theory , such that the language of altruism is used to pass legislation nominally in the public interest e. Rand's heroes continually oppose "parasites", "looters", and "moochers" who demand the benefits of the heroes' labor.
Edward Younkins describes Atlas Shrugged as "an apocalyptic vision of the last stages of conflict between two classes of humanity—the looters and the non-looters. The looters are proponents of high taxation, big labor, government ownership, government spending, government planning, regulation, and redistribution".
Some officials execute government policy, such as those who confiscate one state's seed grain to feed the starving citizens of another; others exploit those policies, such as the railroad regulator who illegally sells the railroad's supplies for his own profit.
Both use force to take property from the people who produced or earned it. The character Francisco d'Anconia indicates the role of "looters" and "moochers" in relation to money: Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or the looters who take it from you by force.
Money is made possible only by the men who produce. The novel includes elements of mystery , romance , and science fiction. Ruddy if a screenplay could focus on the love story, Rand agreed and reportedly said, "That's all it ever was".
Technological progress and intellectual breakthroughs in scientific theory appear in Atlas Shrugged , leading some observers to classify it in the genre of science fiction.
Riggenbach adds, "Rand's overall message with regard to science seems clear: But science can fulfill this role only in a society in which human beings are left free to conduct their business as they see fit. Pierce describes it as a "romantic suspense novel" that is "at least a borderline case" of science fiction. As in other works falling within this genre, a visitor in this case, Dagny arrives at an Utopian Society and is shown around by denizens, who explain in detail how their social institutions work and what is the world view behind these institutions.
It peaked at No. Sales of Atlas Shrugged increased following the financial crisis. The Economist reported that the year-old novel ranked No. With an attached sales chart, The Economist reported that sales "spikes" of the book seemed to coincide with the release of economic data. Subsequently, on April 2, , Atlas Shrugged ranked No. Atlas Shrugged was generally disliked by critics. Rand scholar Mimi Reisel Gladstein later wrote that "reviewers seemed to vie with each other in a contest to devise the cleverest put-downs"; one called it "execrable claptrap", while another said it showed "remorseless hectoring and prolixity".
Is it a nightmare? The negative reviews produced responses from some of Rand's admirers. Alan Greenspan wrote a letter to The New York Times Book Review , in which he responded to Hicks' claim that "the book was written out of hate" by calling it "a celebration of life and happiness. Justice is unrelenting. Creative individuals and undeviating purpose and rationality achieve joy and fulfillment.
Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should. Chambers is an ex-Communist. He has attacked Atlas Shrugged in the best tradition of the Communists—by lies, smears, and cowardly misrepresentations.
There were some positive reviews. Richard McLaughlin, reviewing the novel for The American Mercury , described it as a "long overdue" polemic against the welfare state with an "exciting, suspenseful plot", although unnecessarily long.
He drew a comparison with the antislavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin , saying that a "skillful polemicist" did not need a refined literary style to have a political impact. Atlas Shrugged has attracted an energetic and committed fan base. Each year, the Ayn Rand Institute donates , copies of works by Rand, including Atlas Shrugged , to high school students. Rand's impact on contemporary libertarian thought has been considerable. The title of one libertarian magazine, Reason: Free Minds, Free Markets , is taken directly from John Galt, the hero of Atlas Shrugged , who argues that "a free mind and a free market are corollaries".
Former Rand business partner and lover Nathaniel Branden has expressed differing views of Atlas Shrugged. He was initially quite favorable to it, and even after he and Rand ended their relationship, he still referred to it in an interview as "the greatest novel that has ever been written", although he found "a few things one can quarrel with in the book".
He criticized the potential psychological impact of the novel, stating that John Galt's recommendation to respond to wrongdoing with "contempt and moral condemnation" clashes with the view of psychologists who say this only causes the wrongdoing to repeat itself. The Austrian School economist Ludwig von Mises admired the unapologetic elitism he saw in Rand's work. In a letter to Rand written a few months after the novel's publication, he said it offered "a cogent analysis of the evils that plague our society, a substantiated rejection of the ideology of our self-styled 'intellectuals' and a pitiless unmasking of the insincerity of the policies adopted by governments and political parties You have the courage to tell the masses what no politician told them: In the years immediately following the novel's publication, many American conservatives , such as William F.
Buckley, Jr. Russell Kirk called Objectivism an "inverted religion",  Frank Meyer accused Rand of "calculated cruelties" and her message, an "arid subhuman image of man",  and Garry Wills regarded Rand a "fanatic".
Conservative commentators Neal Boortz ,  Glenn Beck , and Rush Limbaugh  offered praise of the book on their respective radio and television programs. In , Republican Congressman Paul Ryan said that Rand was "the reason I got into public service", and he later required his staff members to read Atlas Shrugged. The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world.
The other, of course, involves orcs. References to Atlas Shrugged have appeared in a variety of other popular entertainments. In the first season of the drama series Mad Men , Bert Cooper urges Don Draper to read the book, and Don's sales pitch tactic to a client indicates he has been influenced by the strike plot: The story depicts a collapsed Objectivist society, and significant characters in the game owe their naming to Rand's work, which game creator Ken Levine said he found "really fascinating".
In , it was announced that Galt's Gulch, Chile, a settlement for libertarian devotees named for John Galt's safe haven, would be established near Santiago , Chile ,  but the project collapsed amid accusations of fraud   and lawsuits filed by investors. In the final third chapter of Atlas Shrugged we find Dagny crashing into the world John Galt created.
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