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Atlas Shrugged Week 1: Ch 1-2

Kruiser

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Love it so far!

Also, is anyone else impressed with the quality of the Audible narrator? Maybe his reading is par for the course for fiction. (I pretty much only listen to nonfiction). But it seems to me like he is doing a fantastic job.
 

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SpongeGod

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There's still one important character we haven't mentioned yet. Paul Larkin is Hank's "friend" who is a very unsuccessful business man. He's been changing industries his whole life and has not had much success. So he comes to Hank for advice and companionship because he's way more successful. There's something about their relationship I just don't like, but I can't put my finger on. But he seems better than his family. At least he's concerned enough for his friend to advise him to spend a little more on better press coverage. Still idk, it feels weird.

Also, I loathe Philip Rearden. I could not stop thinking about him on my commute to college. Rand is just so good at making hateable characters!! So he's going all around town asking rich people to give money for some commie cooperative farming thing and comes home all tired after trying for a small amount of time(I think he's been trying for like a month). He just sounds so naïve. One month is not much time at all. It doesn't sound like he's trying at all. Not to mention its for some useless cooperative farming thing because we all know that worked well (but I guess they don't at this point of time). If I was in Philip's situation I'd rather give up this fundraiser than go to my successful brother for help. It makes me gag. Has there been one original and productive thing he has done on his own?
  • College? Nope, I think he even flunked out because he didn't know what he wanted to do and Hank, being a nice bro didn't want to pressure him into choosing. Lmao
  • Jobs? He's unemployed, mooching off his brother. Still ungrateful
  • Health? He seems to have an illness that really isn't an illness. He's just tired all the time and listless. It really irks me that he lives in comfort doing pretty much nothing, but Rand portrays him as a tired overworked person. She describes him as looking older than Hank even though he is a few years younger than Hank. Also caring about the poor and all that when you get all the money you need from your brother... why don't you just move out and trying living with them in poverty? At least then you could have the dignity of living with some self-reliance.
I'm going to predict that Philip is going to be a major pain in the a$$.
 
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Love it Spongey Dude!

but I guess they don't at this point of time)
Does anybody have any guesses about when the book is taking place? Era it’s in I mean? Could we compare the real American era of trains to this book?

Or should we just say “this book is all imaginary and fantastical let’s not worry about railroad stuff that happened in the US?”
 

SpongeGod

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We should definitely compare it the American era of trains. I think our main characters are supposed to represent those wealthy tycoons from the 1900s like Carnegie and Rochefeller. It does seem to follow with a lot of the stuff that happened in the US in the 20th century.
 

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Love it Spongey Dude!



Does anybody have any guesses about when the book is taking place? Era it’s in I mean? Could we compare the real American era of trains to this book?

Or should we just say “this book is all imaginary and fantastical let’s not worry about railroad stuff that happened in the US?”
I think it's definitely the future as Ayn envisioned it at the time of writing. I think she did a great job of not making it too fantastical, like the jetsons or what have you.
 

Kruiser

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Love it Spongey Dude!



Does anybody have any guesses about when the book is taking place? Era it’s in I mean? Could we compare the real American era of trains to this book?

Or should we just say “this book is all imaginary and fantastical let’s not worry about railroad stuff that happened in the US?”
Feels like a parallel universe 1920s America. WWI didn't happen and instead of an economic boom, there is an ongoing economic decline. But not a sharp and sudden decline.
 
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Primeperiwinkle

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Ok you guys now please flesh this out by quoting each other cuz I gotta go back to work. Do we have any Rockefeller experts in the house?!?

Do you guys think that by understanding the era of Rockefeller better we’ll have insights we need?

Who in here is gonna be in charge of sharing cool train links? We NEED train info!!! :)
 

1step

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Does anybody have any guesses about when the book is taking place? Era it’s in I mean? Could we compare the real American era of trains to this book?
I want to say the introduction on Audiobook said it was based in the 1940's
 

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I find Hank Rearden's wife/mom characters so forcefully stupid amidst the other "bad" characters like Taggart. Like, the dude's already successfully running his steel business, obviously he's no loser. And can someone be so oblivious to the whole bracelet thing? I hope her, mom in law and brother end up eating shit on the sidewalk. Even Jeoffrey from Game of Thrones was super hate-able yet he had a brain, he just was 100% evil. This woman is just DUMB, so dumb it feels kind of "forced". She doesn't even fit the gold digger stereotype.

That's my takeaway, thank you for coming to my TED talk
 

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I want to say the introduction on Audiobook said it was based in the 1940's
Ah good because that's what I imagined for some reason, all very art-deco-ish
 

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BellaPippin

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csalvato

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I want to say the introduction on Audiobook said it was based in the 1940's
The book is based in the 40s and written in the 50s (so it was clear what 1940s NYC was like to the author, rather than her speculating on a future world). I found looking at photos of the era in NYC helped paint a more clear picture for me while reading.

Especially since I grew up NYC and it's a very very different place now compared to then.







This is millionaire row in the 40s (it's nowhere near as serene now)


More here: NYC 1940s - Google Search:
 

1step

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The book is based in the 40s and written in the 50s
The only thing that doesn't make sense to me about the timeline is there's no mention of the war (at least yet, granted I am only partly through) I would think any book dealing with the 40's specifically about metal, steel etc. would have some mention of the war. But that's probably me thinking about it to much or perhaps it just hasn't been addressed in the book thus far.
 

broswoodwork

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The only thing that doesn't make sense to me about the timeline is there's no mention of the war (at least yet, granted I am only partly through) I would think any book dealing with the 40's specifically about metal, steel etc. would have some mention of the war. But that's probably me thinking about it to much or perhaps it just hasn't been addressed in the book thus far.
I have a similar question, but I can't bring it up till next chapter; then, I have a bunch of others that'll have to wait till December. :D
 

Kruiser

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The only thing that doesn't make sense to me about the timeline is there's no mention of the war (at least yet, granted I am only partly through) I would think any book dealing with the 40's specifically about metal, steel etc. would have some mention of the war. But that's probably me thinking about it to much or perhaps it just hasn't been addressed in the book thus far.
See, that's why I think of it as a "parallel universe" US in the 40s. Loosely based on U.S. in the 40s. But no mention of either war or the depression.
 
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Primeperiwinkle

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I want to say the introduction on Audiobook said it was based in the 1940's
[/QUOTE
See, that's why I think of it as a "parallel universe" US in the 40s. Loosely based on U.S. in the 40s. But no mention of either war or the depression.
This is why I’m not a fan of definitive statements like “this book is based on ________”

I’m much more interested in “this seems like _____” because at the end of the day it’s fiction right?

But this book seems more connected to a real era than say Lord of The Rings which was so powerfully connected to war but not necessarily England.

ETA: But obviously its helpful knowing this info!!
 

csalvato

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The only thing that doesn't make sense to me about the timeline is there's no mention of the war (at least yet, granted I am only partly through) I would think any book dealing with the 40's specifically about metal, steel etc. would have some mention of the war. But that's probably me thinking about it to much or perhaps it just hasn't been addressed in the book thus far.
This is why I’m not a fan of definitive statements like “this book is based on ________”
I guess that is going to depend on what "Based on..." means to you.

I meant it in the sense that when she wrote the book, she wrote it as in a "modern" setting. Since it was written in the 40s and the 50s, the environment within the book is representative of that.

Examples:
  1. A plane, train, automobile in AS looks like one from the 1940s/50s.
  2. The interior designs of the home at Hank's party is likely similar to what you would see in 5th avenue mansion in the 1940s/50s.
  3. A storefront sign is likely in the neon, backlit or incandescent bulb style of the 40s/50s.
  4. A metropolis like AS's NYC looks like NYC in 1940s (not 1890s or 1990s)
I don't believe it's written it in a fantastical futuristic setting (like Orwell did in 1984), nor did she write it in a fantastical historical setting (such as Lord of the Rings is set in a fantastical medieval-like period).
 
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Primeperiwinkle

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@csa
I guess that is going to depend on what "Based on..." means to you.

I meant it in the sense that when she wrote the book, she wrote it as in a "modern" setting. Since it was written in the 40s and the 50s, the environment within the book is representative of that.

Examples:
  1. A plane, train, automobile in AS looks like one from the 1940s/50s.
  2. The interior designs of the home at Hank's party is likely similar to what you would see in 5th avenue mansion in the 1940s/50s.
  3. A storefront sign is likely in the neon, backlit or incandescent bulb style of the 40s/50s.
  4. A metropolis like AS's NYC looks like NYC in 1940s (not 1890s or 1990s)
I don't believe it's written it in a fantastical futuristic setting (like Orwell did in 1984), nor did she write it in a fantastical historical setting (such as Lord of the Rings is set in a fantastical medieval-like period).
Thank you for this. It’s all stuff that was floating around in my head but I don’t want to be the one explaining all of it in every thread.. plus I haven’t read the whole book yet.

You’re getting the smiley face sticker for today idgaf if you are a millionaire or multi millionaire or billionaire or whatever you are.

*sticks smiley face sticker on you
*sips wine
*smiles so much

I’m really enjoying what you’re adding to the conversation now that we spent like a thousand words going back and forth in pm.
 

BellaPippin

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I guess that is going to depend on what "Based on..." means to you.

I meant it in the sense that when she wrote the book, she wrote it as in a "modern" setting. Since it was written in the 40s and the 50s, the environment within the book is representative of that.

Examples:
  1. A plane, train, automobile in AS looks like one from the 1940s/50s.
  2. The interior designs of the home at Hank's party is likely similar to what you would see in 5th avenue mansion in the 1940s/50s.
  3. A storefront sign is likely in the neon, backlit or incandescent bulb style of the 40s/50s.
  4. A metropolis like AS's NYC looks like NYC in 1940s (not 1890s or 1990s)
I don't believe it's written it in a fantastical futuristic setting (like Orwell did in 1984), nor did she write it in a fantastical historical setting (such as Lord of the Rings is set in a fantastical medieval-like period).
I agree with this, I never thought it was set "in real life". Obviously because none of those train lines exist. Just the "ambiance" I imagine being 40ish. I even go further and in my head everything is tinted yellowish, and the inside of buildings in my mind look like those with a lot of golden doors and super embellished elevated doors and things of the kind. I mean if you google Art Deco you will see what I mean.
 

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csalvato

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I agree with this, I never thought it was set "in real life". Obviously because none of those train lines exist. Just the "ambiance" I imagine being 40ish. I even go further and in my head everything is tinted yellowish, and the inside of buildings in my mind look like those with a lot of golden doors and super embellished elevated doors and things of the kind. I mean if you google Art Deco you will see what I mean.

Yeah, Art Deco is definitely spot on – at least in my mind.

I think several book cover iterations also underscore the decorum of the period being focused on Art Deco:




A sample of Art Deco:



If you go into NYC today and go into places like the original Tiffany's and Saks, I think it's a good representation of the world AS takes place in. In most US towns there are some PWA buildings from the era that give a good reference and can take you back to that period.

For example. there's also George Washington Middle School in Alexandria, VA that has this style on an elementary school:

 

BizyDad

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Playing a little catch up here...

"Whenever she returned, he felt as if the world became clear, simple, easy to face and he forgot his moments of shapeless apprehension"

Man oh Man. That's who a LEADER is. Somone who just inspires the heck out of their employees so much so that, they are ready to face anything.

I loved that part.
I interpreted that as love.

Especially in light of his flashback where he said, "You ought to do something great . . . I mean, the two of us together.” “What?” she asked. He said, “I don’t know. That’s what we ought to find out."

He wants to be by her side. He has for a long time. And now he works for her. So she enters the room and he is instantly at peace. That's love.

Contrast that with the Reardons. There is affection there. She's throwing an anniversary party. He made her a bracelet. But do they love? More on that below...

Also, don’t say anything bad about yourself anymore, please. It’s unnecessary and unkind. We like you.
I second this.

That we can trust the narrator
I hadn't even considered if I could trust the narrator!

I’m going to need you and everyone else to keep saying this. Please.
Be careful what you wish for... :playful:

As kids given candy as a group we split it evenly. We are taught to democratize. Taken to an extreme... It would be like a labor union running a company.
Good point.

(Oooooh forshadowing)
A bit heavy handed? If you hadn't said anything, I would've thought of your post as offering insight. Whether this is a spoiler or a fake spoiler, please don't get all cutesy with the rules. Yes, you inspired this book discussion (I think), and I am thankful. As such, your words carry higher weight. Its one thing to compliment a leader, its another to actually follow the spirit of said leadership. No spoilers please.

Ok, I'm done playing bad cop for today. Someone else take over. Better yet, let's make sure no one needs to, eh?

Love it so far!

Also, is anyone else impressed with the quality of the Audible narrator? Maybe his reading is par for the course for fiction. (I pretty much only listen to nonfiction). But it seems to me like he is doing a fantastic job.
I second this.

I find Hank Rearden's wife/mom characters so forcefully stupid amidst the other "bad" characters like Taggart. Like, the dude's already successfully running his steel business, obviously he's no loser. And can someone be so oblivious to the whole bracelet thing? I hope her, mom in law and brother end up eating shit on the sidewalk. Even Jeoffrey from Game of Thrones was super hate-able yet he had a brain, he just was 100% evil. This woman is just DUMB, so dumb it feels kind of "forced". She doesn't even fit the gold digger stereotype.

That's my takeaway, thank you for coming to my TED talk
I actually know women like this. Dumb, perhaps, and so far these characters are 2 dimensional, but they certainly are realistic.

It was said before and bears repeating. Ayn Rand has done a wonderful job presenting characters who view the world from different perspectives. These women I am thinking of all did well in school, etc, I think they just have the worldview that comes from growing up in and around money. Not dumb. Clueless? But I see this kind of cluelessness from a lot of people in a lot of walks of life.

Of course, Ayn Rand has her lens too. I am finding it really interesting to see how a thread full of free thinking, independent, entrepreneurial types react to people who find other ways to spend their time.

I actually just came from a networking event with a speaker where much the same idea was being peddled. On the subject of "making a difference", the speaker said, "Government isn't going to 'fix it'. Only entrepreneurs can fix what's wrong here..." Exact quote. (There were at least 3 politicians in the room, I had to chuckle.) I suspect many here would agree. I would call this a partial solution, a half truth. I don't disagree, I just don't entirely agree either.

I mean, has anyone considered that these people aren't freeloaders, but that Reardon derives some measure of his self worth by enabling their endeavours? He told his mom she could live anywhere, he houses his mom at her wish. He gave his bro the money. He initiated what he got.

He said it was to make his brother happy. If it is to help his brother, then why does he get so mad at his brother's reaction? Take my money and be happy with me. Heck, this thought has already been echoed in this thread. Is giving his real motivation? Or is it to make himself feel like he is a "good guy", so when he didn't get that affirmation he gets upset.

That is the criticism leveled at him by his family, that he does everything to please himself. Yet, he's our 2 chapter "hero". Why? Because he has metallurgical expertise? Because he is reliable in business, if not life?

We believe his inner dialogue and ignore the fact that he shows very little concern or care for what anybody in his family is actually trying to accomplish. (Can we trust the narrators?) He IS super self absorbed. His actions with those he 'loves?' is very transactional. I mean, the brother didn't ask for a donation. He didn't even seem to want it from his brother the industrialist. But we're going to blast him as a freeloader? Well, he did take the money, but it seems to me the brother has chosen a different path, one that maybe Rand despises, but one that actually can make a difference in the world. And its often thankless, and it often ages people. But 20 appointments in a day fundraising isn't someone sitting on his butt.

Seriously, the more we talk, the more I respect this author's ability.

"...almost as if they were wounded by the mere fact of his being". That's writing.

We're not supposed to like them, as he doesn't like them. But they got something to say, and I wish Rand could put us in their eyes for a bit, RR Martin style. Lastly, people are saying mother in law, but that's his mom who's beating him down verbally. I do respect Reardon more for overcoming that hurdle. When your own mom chides you relentlessly, maybe your only real defense is self-absorption.

(Also... Jeoffrey had a brain? :jawdrop: Where's the GoT discussion thread when I need one? :rofl:)
 
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Primeperiwinkle

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I find Hank Rearden's wife/mom characters so forcefully stupid amidst the other "bad" characters like Taggart. Like, the dude's already successfully running his steel business, obviously he's no loser. And can someone be so oblivious to the whole bracelet thing? I hope her, mom in law and brother end up eating shit on the sidewalk. Even Jeoffrey from Game of Thrones was super hate-able yet he had a brain, he just was 100% evil. This woman is just DUMB, so dumb it feels kind of "forced". She doesn't even fit the gold digger stereotype.

That's my takeaway, thank you for coming to my TED talk
Oh ya I loathed Lillian.. she set my teeth on edge because of the disrespect. Grrr. But Hank is perpetuating it all by not confronting (or caring) about the problems. I mean.. he let his mom come and live there! Not. Cool. She’s awful to him.
 

Kruiser

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Oh ya I loathed Lillian.. she set my teeth on edge because of the disrespect. Grrr. But Hank is perpetuating it all by not confronting (or caring) about the problems. I mean.. he let his mom come and live there! Not. Cool. She’s awful to him.
Yeah, I remember thinking something like that when I was first reading it...

Everyone Rearden comes home to is obnoxious. Especially his wife. BUT... it is true that he is never there for them.

Maybe not "them." "Them" doesn't matter. But not being there for his wife isn't cool. Maybe that's why she's such a b****? At least in part?

Lots and lots and lots of folks get hurt by the overly ambitious husband/dad who is busting his a**, fooling himself that he is "doing it for them." Then he wakes up at 53, lonely, divorced, wondering why he doesn't know his college-aged kids and wondering why they hate him and don't return his calls. Maybe because he was in his mills all the time?

I know Rearden is a hero in the story. But maybe something to think about. The all-consuming drive does have a human price.

Also, like everyone, I find James Taggart annoying. But he seems almost cartoonishly stupid. Am I annoyed at Taggart's character or Rand's description of him? I'm not sure.

I know she can write 1000x better than I could. But I feel there should be a bit more to his character. Has he no redeeming qualities or inner conflict or something? He seems to be a bit of a straw man.
 
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I know Rearden is a hero in the story. But maybe something to think about. The all-consuming drive does have a human price.

Also, like everyone, I find James Taggart annoying. But he seems almost cartoonishly stupid. Am I annoyed at Taggart's character or Rand's description of him? I'm not sure.
I’m not convinced Rearden is a hero yet.

Rand’s writing is exquisitely poignant at times but the characters do seem to be simplistic.. more like comic book characters than real ppl. It’s like she took archetypes and put them in the book. But it is only the beginning..
 

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At the beginning of the book I didn't like how she describes someones face for 3 pages but it's growing on me now.
She needed a editor, badly. At one point, Ayn, spends 45 pages, talking about xxxxx.
 

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Additionally. As someone with a wife that would LOVE a bracelet from a first pour of a metal that I hypothetically created... I can't imagine building an empire without the right wife. Hank's wife sucks.
LOL - my wife was listening in the car during that part and was in disbelief. She’s like “any normal woman would be showing that off to everyone.

All that aside, I feel like the defining bit for me was the breakdown of the Comet. Everyone just standing around waiting because nobody wants to take responsibility for the outcome. And the constant and irritatingly close to real life use of “no one can blame you”.

Rand uses that language in several other scenes, because it’s clearly important to the “spirit of the age” she wants to portray in the fictional universe she’s created. It sticks out for me because it’s so close to reality. That scene engaged me so much because I can identify with it. I have been in the equivalent situation so many times it gives me the jitters, and is slightly depressing. Because most of the characters in this book are utterly contemptible.... and so realistic to what you see from people every day.
 

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