Wednesday, June 7, 2017

The Annotated Anthem - FREE eBook

Click to download free ebook
"It is a sin to write this..."

These immortal words form one of the finest opening sentences in all of literature. They are simple, direct, compelling, immediately prompting many questions. Why is it a sin to write? What are we about to read that is considered so egregious as to be a sin? Who is writing it, and why? What prompted this immoral action, and what will be its consequences?

Ayn Rand wrote Anthem in 1937 as a warning against totalitarian oppression and the dangers of collectivism - the ultimate result of extreme socialism in which all are made equal regardless of merits. She saw the results of this firsthand in her Russian homeland before fleeing to the U.S. This short dystopian novella presents a world where all live only for their brothers and the singular pronoun has been removed from human language.

I first read Anthem in my early teens, and have read it many times since. It was a formative influence on my deeply ingrained sense of independence and self-reliance. It was an influence on George Orwell and Neal Peart as well.

In writing my sequel to Anthem I re-read it again a dozen or more times, gleaning details and making copious notes on everything from social structure to population count. How many people live in the City? How long has it been since the Great Rebirth? What technologies are available? How many Vocations are there and what do they produce? How do the Councils function and how are they selected? The more important question in the end, of course, what "how does it all turn out?" That is the question I attempted to answer in the writing of I.

In gathering together all these details I compiled a number of lists and charts, many of which can now be found in the Archives section of my website. However, in order to facilitate a quick and easy reference I also produced what I now call "The Annotated Anthem" (complete with matching cover), an ebook edition containing 577 interlinear hyperlinked end-notes and running commentary addressing a broad range of issues, such as:
  • analysis of plot details and structure
  • character traits and motivations
  • detailed breakdown of socio-political structure
  • population count based on numbers given
  • Homes, Departments and Councils evaluated
  • technologies present or inferred in the City, as well as what is absent
  • inconsistencies and contradictions in the narrative or details
  • aspects of Objectivist philosophy considered in context
  • differences between the 1938 and 1946 editions, along with selected quotes of deleted lines
You can download the ebook free in three formats (Kindle, ePub, PDF) by clicking the image above and signing up for my mailing list (I hardly ever send out anything, so you won't be spammed, and you can always unsubscribe). If you're interested in dystopian fiction of this sort I am in the formative planning stages of an original apocalyptic fiction novel that I hope to start this summer. The mailing list will allow me to keep you posted on my progress. It may or may not be a graphic novel.

Either way, this is a chance to get a critical edition of Anthem free of charge. Rand's book is in the public domain in the U.S. where I live, but most free editions are poorly formatted or taken directly from Project Gutenburg. This edition is derived from the revised corrected text of the 1946 edition, of which I have several versions, including an original Pamphleteers edition from Caxton Press in Caldwell, Idaho.