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Thursday, May 1, 2014

Atlas Shrugged Is Not as Influential as It Used to Be

Posted by on Thu, May 1, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Here's some good news, from the New Republic:

A new poll released today reveals that—shocker!—the Bible remains Americans' favorite book. It’s always a bit presumptuous to outline any kind of cultural DNA from a list, though foreign favorite lists can be useful as a measure of just how little literature makes it overseas. (How many Americans have read the most-beloved novel in Australia, Tim Winton’s Cloudstreet*?) But there are some interesting additions and some even more interesting omissions from this year’s list. Among those that have dropped off since the poll was last conducted in 2008: Stephen King’s The Stand, Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons; and, perhaps most significantly of all, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.

Maybe it's the shitty movie adaptations. Maybe it's the terrible politicians who keep promoting it. Maybe it's just too old-fashioned for modern readers. But Atlas Shrugged losing its toehold on lists of influential books is great news for the future of America.

* Incidentally, I've read Cloudstreet and it's very good. Tim Winton is a terrific author who is seriously under-appreciated in America.


Comments (11) RSS

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Dougsf 1
Having actually read the book should at least be a prerequisite. Unlike with To Kill a Mockingbird, few are asked to prove they've actually read the Bible.

Grapes of Wrath—which is unarguably and scientifically provably by me in my head just recently as the greatest American novel ever written—at #9 ain't bad though.
Posted by Dougsf on May 1, 2014 at 3:13 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 2
What @1 said.

Show me someone who says they've read the bible and I'll show you someone who just broke the commandment about not bearing false witness.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on May 1, 2014 at 3:28 PM · Report this
Maybe it's the fact that Atlas Shrugged is horribly written.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on May 1, 2014 at 3:46 PM · Report this
Let's be real: After listening to a recent review of that book, why would I want to read it? Unless I was some idiot Republican would loved being dominant over or liked to slap women? Nah . . .
Posted by gman5541 on May 1, 2014 at 4:20 PM · Report this
venomlash 5
The original Bible is good, but the sequel is disappointing. The stuff it holds over from the first book is interesting, but it goes off in some weird new directions that take away from the themes of the original.
Posted by venomlash on May 1, 2014 at 4:24 PM · Report this
newsflash for Paul Constant: Karl Marx is not as influential as it he used to be.

Posted by commie go home now on May 1, 2014 at 4:42 PM · Report this
Fish Wrench Asteroid 7
@5 Really, I thought the 2nd Bible really improved on a lot of the failings of the 1st. The protagonist of the 1st Bible has literally no redeemable qualities. He runs around killing just about everybody, and being a total dick. At least the 2nd Bible's main character has a conscience.

Both though are plagued by wildly uneven prose, poor editing, inconsistently (un)reliable narrators, and absolutely no fact checking.

The authors should have read Martin's Song of Fire and Ice or Tolkein's Middle Earth works before they started writing. Both build more consistent and believable fantasy worlds. Westeros and Middle Earth both present consistent and thoughtful philosophy through metaphor and symbolism. I have no idea what I'm supposed to take from either Bible. One minute the Bibles are pro-fascist and ethnic cleansing, the next they're pro-fascist and hippy-dippy peaceful. Then it's off slaughtering children with bears as if that's a good thing, or cursing trees for not bearing fruit out of season.

And the hardcore fanboys of the Bibles are the fucking worst! So elitist and exclusionary! And have you seen the way they dress?! Even casual fans seem to be pretty hard-core compared to other fandoms.

Anyway, both books are pretty lame. I bet most of the people that say they like them, haven't even read them, or just read them because of social pressure.
Posted by Fish Wrench Asteroid on May 1, 2014 at 5:13 PM · Report this
Dougsf 8
@5 & 7. There's also that pesky issue of plagiarism *cough* Gilgamesh *cough*.

It's certainly a decent collection of parables, but for fans of the genre I'd recommend starting with Aesop. His stories tend to be more concise and lack those annoying subscription fees.
Posted by Dougsf on May 1, 2014 at 5:44 PM · Report this
Urgutha Forka 9

Yeah, but the ending of the first bible is just a big downer with some dude going on and on about how disappointing everyone has been. Whereas, the ending of the sequel is a horrifically insane yet thoroughly entertaining acid trip.
Posted by Urgutha Forka on May 1, 2014 at 9:22 PM · Report this
Oh. Sorry I thought this post was about Atlas Shrugged not the Bible. My bad.

But since the Bible is the topic, yeah Bible much better then anything Ayn Rand ever wrote.
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on May 2, 2014 at 12:16 AM · Report this
MacCrocodile 11
@10 - Food poisoning is better than anything Ayn Rand ever wrote.
Posted by MacCrocodile on May 2, 2014 at 8:06 AM · Report this

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