Monday, December 19, 2005

I Just Can’t Let This Pass

Over on Instapundit, on the topic of book recommendations, emailer Jefferson Perkins writes:

"Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. Perhaps the most important philosophical work of the 20th Century, and I don't think it's going to be recommended by most of today's faculty. One
liberal friend of mine refuses to even read it, his mind might be poisoned or something -- Written in 1957, it is as eerily prescient as de Toqueville in some matters, such as the expansion in size and power of the federal government.

The Federalist Society's little booklet containing the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.

Hayek's Road to Serfdom. Although it's a little dated, as Hayek focussed on post WWII "Central Planning" rather than other governmental mischief.

J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, the best fantasy series ever written, period. I don't know whether these works have been elevated into "English Literature" as yet -- but they should be."

I’m willing to sign on to Road to Serfdom (perhaps not as dated as Mr. Perkins believes), and Lord of the Rings as recommendations.

But – Atlas Shrugged as “perhaps the most important philosophical work of the 20th century? “ That’s a bit of a stretch . Novels, though they may have mass appeal, rarely qualify as philosophical works. I’m not a philosopher or economist, but a quick glance at the old bookshelf reveals several books of either more philosophical or practical import than anything penned by Ms. Rand.

And I liked Atlas Shrugged.

Personal bias: I believe P.G. Wodehouse to be the greatest novelist of the last century. Stuff that will be read long after objectivism has lapsed into obscurantivism.