Of This We Can Be Certain, John Galt’s Speech In “Atlas Shrugged” Is Too Fucking Long

If there is anything I can be sure of when it comes to Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged, it is the fact that John Galt’s speech is way too fucking long.  Now, I actually liked the book.  I am not into objectivism by any means, but some of Ayn Rand’s ideas make some sense.  I think they are oversimplified to the point of allegory and ignore how things would work out in the real world, but they do make some interesting points.

However, Ayn Rand desperately needed an editor.  There is some really good writing in Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, but there is just way, way too much writing.  Too many words.  To many things that could have been cut.

Let’s face it, Ayn Rand desperately needed a more aggressive editor.  The John Galt speech is a perfect example of this. 

You can read it here if you want, though no one else wants to.  One source I came across says that reading aloud this speech requires three hours.  Apparently John Galt even confirms this fact in the book itself. Another source that I came across cites the speech at 90 pages.  90 pages for a damn speech in a novel.  That is inexcusable absent a really damn good reason.  Is there one?  No, the same source condenses the speech into 964 words.  964 words!  Why didn’t Rand do that?  Any editor worth their salt would have sliced and diced that speech.  And they should have.  Any compassionate human being would have.

What is comes down to, is that Ayn Rand couldn’t avoid what I like to call mouthpiece fiction.  She was primarily making rabid political points and cared little for the literary merit of her work.  See also my opinions on Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle (where things are utterly, unchangeably horrible until socialism comes tap dancing across the screen and fixes everything except it doesn’t because the main character’s loved ones are still all dead).

Let’s face it, mouthpiece fiction is flawed as fiction.  It works as a political tract, but it is flawed as fiction.  The narrative suffers and, frankly, it is only so persuasive.  It clubs the reader over the head and the only people who are really going to be convinced are the people who were already like minded to begin with.  Everyone else is just going to tune out.

So, I have just taken all these words to make the point that John Galt’s speech is too fucking long.  Ironic?  Perhaps me and Ayn Rand could pool together to buy the services of a decent editor.

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About David S. Atkinson

David S. Atkinson enjoys typing about himself in the third person, although he does not generally enjoy speaking in such a fashion. However, he is concerned about the Kierkegaard quote "Once you label me you negate me." He worries that if he attempts to define himself he will, in fact, nullify his existence...
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2 Responses to Of This We Can Be Certain, John Galt’s Speech In “Atlas Shrugged” Is Too Fucking Long

  1. When Bennett Cerf a head of Random House begged her to cut Galt s speech Rand replied with what Heller calls a comment that became publishing legend Would you cut the Bible? One can imagine what Cerf thought he had already told Rand plainly I find your political philosophy abhorrent but the strange thing is that Rand s grandiosity turned out to be perfectly justified…In fact any editor certainly would cut the Bible if an agent submitted it as a new work of fiction.

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