Atlas Shrugged in 7 minutes: Saving You 47 Hours, 21 Minutes, and Perhaps Your Very Soul
I just read Atlas Shrugged. It was my third attempt in 20 years. It took me five weeks of fierce determination. If you’ve mulled reading the book, I may be able to add precious days to your span on this mortal coil. (WARNING: The rest of this little essay is pure, unalloyed spoiler.)
Dagny Taggart runs a transcontinental railroad company. Dagny is slim, elegant, bold. In her spare time, she’s writing a 1,168-page novel in which she has sex with three different slim, elegant, bold men. She’s not a slut, mind you, nor horny as a rabbit during the rut.
No, she has sex with each man because she agrees with his philosophy, best summarized thus: I am the most important being in the universe, and my pleasure is the goal of the universe, so leave me alone.
Dagny has sex in her youth with Francisco D’Anconia, heir to an historic copper fortune and the richest man on earth, who’s also writing a 1,168-page novel.
Dagny has sex repeatedly with Hank Rearden, a rich (unhappily married) steel magnate, who, in his spare time, is writing a 1,168-page novel.
And finally, Dagny has sex with John Galt, the most interesting man in the world (who’s not pushing Dos Equis), but who IS writing an 1,168-page novel which, like the others', contains a mix of economics, philosophy, daily news and sex. It’s basically the Huffington Post, in book form.
Galt has worked as a laborer for Dagny’s company for 12 years, in the same building as she, though Dagny doesn’t know it. In his spare time, Galt works to shut down the economy of the entire world by getting a handful of effective producers to abandon their life's work and to defect to Galt’s Gulch, an idyllic hideaway in the mountains.
Is it just coincidence that each svelte, ingenious, wealthy member of this foursome has all of this amazing perfect sex while running his or her massive business, and writing a 1,168-page novel?
No, not coincidence: It’s Ayn Rand.
Miss Rand (whose first name is pronounced any way you please) is the author of a 1,168-page novel called Atlas Shrugged. She’s her own inspiration for each of these characters. So, in a very real sense, Atlas Shrugged is about a svelte genius who wants to be left alone, to fantasize about an industrial Utopia while having sex with herself.