27 July, 2015

Atlas Shrugged

BY Ayn Rand
Book Information1/1/0/US/RH/1957/c.100,000  •  224x158x54  •  1,237

I read "Atlas Shrugged" for the first time as a freshman in college after overhearing a conversation between two professors about their classification of undergraduates into two camps: those who have read "Atlas Shrugged" and those who haven't. I was impressionable then and didn't quite understand the fuss. It was the dark age when there wasn't Wikipedia, and the internet was at its infancy, the simple and honest days when an executable (.exe) file attached in an email was a good laugh instead of a virus or trojan horse. 

Many years went by before I picked the book up again, this time after I had completed a philosophy degree and felt more equip to decipher Rand's brand of philosophy, Objectivism, that spans philosophical arguments in knowledge (epistemology), morality (ethics), reality (metaphysics), beauty (aesthetics), and politics. In the end, I think I enjoyed the book more the first time.

I am not qualified to give a critical analysis of Rand's central tenets in this book except to note that this was a tendentious novel. On the surface, it is a story of a group of industrialists who, like the Greek titan Atlas, carried the world on their shoulders and who, sick of the increasing oppressive governmental regulations that they perceived as shameless leeching, decided to "shrug", leave their businesses behind, and join an organized strike against the government organized by John Galt. Galt's love interest, a talented female industrialist, rejected his movement and returned to New York City. Galt tailed her back to the city and then hacked and took over the airwave to launch into an exceedingly long monologue (60 pages?) explaining his philosophy for the strike. He was subsequently captured and then rescued from his captivity, when he promised to reorganize the world as the existing one faced imminent collapse. Deep down, it is a treaty of Rand's Objectivism that champions individualism and capitalism over governmental interference. On Rand's expressed contempt for the latter, I am reminded of Thoreau's Walden.

Atlas Shrugged was not critically received when first published, reportedly of 100,000 copies, in 1957 by Random House, and Objectivism is still not considered mainstream philosophy today although it is heartening that the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy contains an entry of Ayn Rand and her philosophy. Despite the literary criticism, "Atlas Shrugged" remains an extremely popular "cultist" book that continues to sell well today, and the phrase "Who is John Galt?" has become ubiquitous. 

This is the first edition first printing with first state dust jacket that is unclipped, showing the correct price of $6.95. The book is bound in green clothed board with gilt lettering, including the initial "AR" on the front board, and has dark blue, almost black, topstain. The copyright page should state "First Printing". 

This book is not particularly rare and a VG copy can be purchased from eBay or Abebooks for $700 onwards. A copy with NF dust jacket goes for $2,000 onwards. This is a VG+ copy with a VG+ dust jacket with chippings at spine extremities and rubbing, and a NF book that is tight and clean.


There no official signed first editions but you can find signed copies with exorbitant selling price (think $15,000 and above), which is all fine if the signature is genuine and verifiable. In most cases, they are not, and Rand has a rather simple signature that is easy to imitate. For a reliable signed copy, go for the 2,000-copy signed limited editon issued by Random House that retails at upwards of $2,000.





















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