Analysis: Introduction & Author’s Preface

Leonard Peikoff, who worked closely with Ayn Rand for thirty years before her death, is one of the world’s leading Rand scholars, and his introduction is typical of the writing of most objectivist scholars. His intense, clipped style and self-assured tone are characteristic of both Rand herself and those who continue to propagate her ideas. Unlike many authors, Rand saw herself largely as a political figure and philosopher, though she believed the ideas she espoused were universal and eternal. Objectivism, though often spoken of by its followers as anti-religious, is similar to religion in the sense that it is an all-encompassing philosophy that views every fact in the world through a particular lens. Rand embraced this idea wholly, and her tone and style convey an absolute surety and confidence in her ideas that set her apart from many other novelists, especially those in twentieth-century America. Rand does not pose a question about society; she presents the answer. Peikoff and Rand’s emphasis on the similarities of the two editions of Anthem underscore their interest in presenting objectivism and Rand as constant and unwavering in the face of enormous resistance from the intellectual community.

Peikoff’s observations about the lack of traditional structure in Anthem are important to understanding how the novella works as a whole and what Rand was trying to accomplish with publication of the work. Though Anthem is plainly fictional, it is less like a novel and more like a manifesto, or statement of views. It does not, for example, contain detailed descriptions of characters or setting, or have easily identifiable structural components, such as a climax. Rather, it seeks to compel us to fear what Rand considers the error of embracing collectivism and to stave off this future by embracing the tenets of objectivism.