Atlas Shrugged (1957) broke the rules and got very bad reviews. So why is it so popular today?
Atlas Shrugged – the strikes against it
Ayn Rand’s signature novel has several things wrong with it:
- It runs to more than 1100 pages.
- It has so many characters that one truly needs a scorecard to keep up with them.
- It has a speech that easily would need three hours to read out loud from start to finish.
- It takes the omniscient point of view. Worse, it often shifts point-of-view several times in one scene, or even one sentence. Almost any recognized literary agent in practice today says that an author shouldn’t do that.
So why is this novel so popular? No publisher in his right mind would buy it today. No publisher would buy it even from an author in its own stable. Even if that author had another word-of-mouth best-seller (The Fountainhead) to her credit, they still wouldn’t buy it. Why Bennet Cerf at Random House bought it, probably no modern acquisition editor can figure out.