Recently I talked with someone who would love Ayn Rand’s prophetic dystopian classic, Atlas Shrugged, but she was daunted by its immense size. That’s unfortunate, and it made me want to do this as a teaser to invite people in. By no means is this a “condensed” summary of the novel, but it is a collection of my favorite, representative quotes.
I went through my copy of the book, and I typed up the passages I’d marked which were short and especially relevant. I had to skip ones that were long (though I did include one whole paragraph below), and items that were simply examples of excellent writing. My choices focus on the life-affirming aspects of the text, its insistence on patriotism and how Rand’s vision brings joy to life. Most of the quotes about music, education, and political criticism had to be left out–I wanted my collection to be no more than three pages long, and that’s what it is. This collection represents about a quarter of what I have marked in my copy.
The page numbers refer to the mass market paperback edition, which I believe is still the current edition in print.
Enjoy this introduction to the awesome world of Atlas Shrugged.
“We who hold the love and the secret of joy, to what punishment have we been sentenced for it, and by whom?” (69)
“The reason my family has lasted for such a long time is that none of us has ever been permitted to think he is born a d’Anconia. We are expected to become one.” (89)
“Francisco, what’s the most depraved type of human being?”
“The man without a purpose.” (98)
“One is not supposed to be intellectual at a ball. One is simply supposed to be gay.”
“How? By being stupid?” (102)
“Then why do you want to struggle for years, squeezing out your gains in the form of pennies per ton–rather than accept a fortune for Rearden Metal? Why?”
“Because it’s mine.” (172)
“Contradictions do not exist. Whenever you think you are facing a contradiction, check your premises. You will find that one of them is wrong.” (188)
“He’s the looter who thinks that his end justifies his seizure of my means.” (189, first appearance of term “looter” in text)