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What to read first? Atlas Shrugged or Virtue of Selfishness?

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You can understand AS without reading anything else just fine. Virtue of Selfishness comes in once you want to start understanding how Objectivism might work for you in the real world, where people are mostly neither clear cut villains nor heroes.

 

So I would suggest AS first. Get inspired, then get technical.

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VoS has spoilers for AS.  So if you want to fully enjoy AS, wait.  On the other hand if you already know a lot about AS through reading various spoilers in discussions about AR, you may as well go ahead if you're so motivated.  A friend of mine who has an aversion to fiction and doesn't usually read dense material became quite absorbed in VoS.

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  • 2 weeks later...

As Fawkes mentioned, it may depend on your preference for fiction over non-fiction. I prefer non-fiction. And while I did read Virtue of Selfishness first, it was after I picked up and read a Sparksnotes of Atlas Shrugged. I was experienced no disappointments from plot spoilers, as I prefer to know the plot, theme, and characters of a novel in advance. History has always been my first choice of reading material, and plot spoilers for history are taken for granted. If fiction is your preference, by all means, read Atlas Shrugged.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Neither; read the Fountainhead first.

 

The nonfiction gives you all of these ideas piecemeal, which you then have to stop and integrate for yourself at the same rate.  The fiction gives you the same thing all at once.  You'll still have to take your time to integrate, but it'll be a much easier place to start.

And AS is her absolutely best work of fiction, but the Fountainhead is much more personal.  It doesn't give you the view of an entire society but of the same causal relations at work in isolated individuals, with much more focus and precision (and you are, after all, an individual).

 

Get inspired and then get technical, but start with the individual before you look at societies.

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  • 2 weeks later...

If, from your reading of The Fountainhead you are intrigued by the ideas which are specifically discussed in The Virtue of Selfishness then go read it definitely. In my case, after being blown away by The Fountainhead, I read most of her non-fiction works together side by side, never completing anyone in one go, just choosing which topic I wanted to read more about from anything Ayn Rand wrote herself. But still one book stood out for me at that time: Philosophy: Who Needs It. Also, a good supplementary go-to source I found was the Ayn Rand Lexicon, the whole book is readable online under the same name.

 

 Personally, If I were you, I would not touch anything that has any excerpts from her novels other than The Fountainhead. All the best!!!!!!

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