Primary Creator
Rand, Ayn
Era1900 - 1950
Pages124 pages
Name of WorkAnthem
Production Date1938, revised 1946
Production Location

Current Location

Media Typesbook
General Notes


A world in which the idea of being an individual has been lost and suppressed. No individual desires or choices are allowed. All of life is controlled by the State and all choices are not allowed. It is the story of a young man who starts to grasp that he is not a cog in a Manichean system, but an individual. He struggles to free himself from guilt of having these forbidden thoughts about himself, and his actions that exclude the collective around him. It is an intellectual journey from a world in which self is non-existent and banned, to the dawning of a new sense of self in this heroic protagonist. And it is a material journey as well, as the hero invents and rediscovers some of the lost knowledge of a forgotten age when men were individuals and creators.


Ego and using one's individual mind is the core of being human.

Emotional Sum or Sense-of-life

The book starts out psychologically dark and disorienting because of the protagonist struggling with the radically collectivist world he was born into. But what shows even in the early pages, and grows to the climax is the triumphant struggle of a rare few who break free of the yoke of total mind control and become free to live a life as a conceptual human and rediscover what it means to be an individual. Thrilling and emotionally satisfying (unless the reader is a committed determinist.)

Context Information

Rand wrote this after her first novel "We the Living". She could not get an American publisher so it was only published in England. Some years later, after the Fountainhead came out, and she became well-known, then it was finally published in the U.S. but in doing so, she edited it, primarily for style and clarity, with no significant changes in the story line. The result is that the original edition is now out of copyright and can be found for free in the public domain, but the revised edition is still in copyright. There is also a fascinating version of the novella produced in the 1990's that has the entire new edited edition and the entire old edition with all of Rand's editorial markups, so one can see how she worked on this in detail.


collectivism, ego, individualism