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Free online reading groups for Ayn Rand's Anthem and The Fountainhead

Stuck at Home? Join an Ayn Rand Novel Reading Group

If you’re homebound during the coronavirus pandemic, the Ayn Rand Institute is launching a new educational resource that we hope provides some benefit to you in this difficult time. Starting tomorrow, we are beginning two online discussion series for students — one on Ayn Rand’s Anthem and one on The Fountainhead — that can supplement a reading of either novel in a high school curriculum, or that can serve as a standalone resource for anyone interested in these books.

We hope you will join us for this live, interactive experience. The groups are aimed at students but open to everyone, free of charge, including adults and repeat readers. So please spread the word.

In these special series, teachers from the Ayn Rand Institute will discuss Rand’s background and the history of the novels, the novels’ plots, central themes and characters, how the novels compare to other well-known works, and how the novels relate to the era in which they were written and to today.

The first webinar in each series will set the context of the novel and will be spoiler-free — no prior reading is necessary. The discussions will take place on the Zoom webinar platform. (To protect privacy, attendees are only able to see and communicate with the teachers, not with each other.)

Students who are thinking about entering the essay contest for either novel are sure to benefit (details below).

Anthem

The 4-episode series for Anthem runs Fridays, March 27 to April 17, 10:00–11:00 a.m. Pacific. As Anthem is a novella that can be read in one week, the initial context-setting webinar will be followed by three separate webinars, each discussing the book as a whole but focusing on different aspects of it. Here are a few of the questions that will be addressed:

  • How did Ayn Rand think of the idea for Anthem?
  • What is most important about the characters Equality 7-2521 and Liberty 5-3000?
  • What ideas led to the dismal world depicted in Anthem?
  • Why does Rand consider the word “ego” to be sacred?

Grand Prize in the Anthem essay contest is $2,000, and the entry deadline is May 28 (just extended from April 30).

The Fountainhead

The 9-episode series for The Fountainhead will follow a more traditional reading group approach. We’ll set the context for the book this week, discuss approximately 100 pages of the novel the next 7 weeks, and end with a general Q&A. The series takes place on Fridays, March 27 to May 22, 12:00–1:00 p.m. Pacific. (Note: the discussions do not include plot spoilers.) Here are just a few of the questions to be discussed:

  • By what principles does the hero of the story, Howard Roark, live?
  • Is Peter Keating selfish — or selfless?
  • What is Ellsworth Toohey really after in his relationships with the other characters?
  • Why does Dominique Francon oppose Roark’s career even though she loves him?
  • Why is Gail Wynand’s pursuit of power doomed to fail?

Grand Prize in the Fountainhead essay contest is $10,000, and the deadline for entries is May 28.

Logistics

Register in advance (Anthem, The Fountainhead) to receive reminders, or you may register at the time of the webinar.

If you miss a discussion or can’t attend live, webinar recordings will be available.

Each series will end ahead of the deadline for the corresponding essay contest, and will be especially beneficial for those planning to enter. The deadline for both contests is May 28.

Please visit the discussion series websites (Anthem here, The Fountainhead here) for more details and to register.

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Tom Bowden

Tom Bowden, J.D. and former civil litigator, is a research fellow at the Ayn Rand Institute.

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