We the Living by Ayn Rand (EPUB)


Ebook Info

  • Published: 2009
  • Number of pages: 466 pages
  • Format: EPUB
  • File Size: 0.56 MB
  • Authors: Ayn Rand


Ayn Rand’s first published novel, a timeless story that explores the struggles of the individual against the state in Soviet Russia. First published in 1936, We the Living portrays the impact of the Russian Revolution on three human beings who demand the right to live their own lives and pursue their own happiness. It tells of a young woman’s passionate love, held like a fortress against the corrupting evil of a totalitarian state. We the Living is not a story of politics, but of the men and women who have to struggle for existence behind the Red banners and slogans. It is a picture of what those slogans do to human beings. What happens to the defiant ones? What happens to those who succumb? Against a vivid panorama of political revolution and personal revolt, Ayn Rand shows what the theory of socialism means in practice. Includes an Introduction and Afterword by Ayn Rand’s Philosophical Heir, Leonard Peikoff

User’s Reviews

Reviews from Amazon users which were colected at the time this book was published on the website:

⭐One of the problems with any class-based revolution is that the resentful are put in charge leading to distracted and arbitrary administration. Ayn Rand’s first novel, “We the Living” gives a vivid account of this phenomenon. I listened to the reading on cd by Mary Wood whose manner, approaching cold and hard, suited the overall tone of this narrative. Rand states that the story is based on her experiences, though it is not a thinly veiled autobiography.[SPOILER ALERT] Kira, the 18-year-old daughter of a furnishings merchant who had included the Tsar among his customers, returns to Petrograd with her parents, and older sister, seeking help from her aunt’s family, about 1922 after the Revolution has died down. Unlike her parents and uncle who cling to the hope that the Bolshevik control cannot last, Kira is indifferent to politics and ignores the restraints of both the old regime and the new party ideology. She is young, attractive without much effort, and unafraid. Unlike many women who feel for others and seemingly want to please everyone, Kira has a strong sense of boundaries and seeks to please only herself. Admitted to the university with the intent to study engineering, she rubs elbows with her cousin Viktor, a womanizer whom she rebuffs, who pragmatically embraces the Communist Party in order to secure advancement and the perquisites membership entails. She attracts the local party commissar, in part, by her lack of fear of him. She is attracted to him as they exchange conversations here and there, though his commitment to the party and its ideal, and her indifference and bourgeois background is a barrier. Then she meets a mysterious stranger whom she agrees to meet clandestinely , and subsequently leave the country with. As she makes love to him for the first time on the boat, they are arrested by Communist police. He turns out to be Leo, the son of an admiral who opposed the revolution. She is let off as being a naive girl, and he gets a light sentence. When he returns, they move in together. In a purge of the university, Kira is expelled, and must find a job, Andrei, the commissar uses his influence to help her. When Leo needs treatment at a sanitarium to head off tuberculosis, she eventually becomes Andrei’s mistress, accepting financial help to make this possible. When Leo returns, she continues living with Leo, though seeing Andrei from time to time. Having lived off of charity breaks down Leo’s self-respect and, unable to secure a job due to his record and background, he participates with a corrupt party official to front a shop that sells produce stolen from the state bureaucracy. Andrei pursues the corruption, makes enemies among the party higher ups, and when the he discovers that it is Kira’s lover who is scapegoated so that the corrupt party official can escape, he decides to take his own life. Leo gets off because Andrei pulls some strings, and determines to leave Kira to go on vacation with a wealthy woman with connections. Kira attempts to escape to Latvia, but ends up shot by a boarder guard and dying in the snow.Kira’s character exhibits the confident self-possession that we often find so compelling, especially in sexual attraction. This is a double-edged sword as she fearlessly treads where danger awaits. Other characters, notably her sister, are portrayed as simpering, confused, and helpless. Still others, Viktor and Kira’s mother, forfeit their integrity by adapting to the new social realities, the former by calculation, the latter more by attrition. Andrei the true believer is eventually disillusioned, and Leo goes his own selfish way, yet despising himself for it. It is a tragic story in which there are no winners. Perhaps that is the point- the society based on impossible ideals robs everyone of freedom. Presumably the West, with its heritage of individual freedom, will allow the individual’s pursuit of happiness.The indictment of Communist society recalls Orwell’s classic, “Animal Farm.” Those who sincerely believe in the ideals end up being exploited by the cynical manipulators of power. The Marxist interpretation of religion is applied to his own ideology- an opiate to persuade the exploited to put up with what they otherwise would not tolerate, Rand seems to be saying that it is better to embrace the selfish greed of capitalism than the hypocritical pretense of communism.Yet, the traditional Christian must recognize that the tragedy lies less with the Communist state that Rand (rightly) abhors, but with that despair of transcendence, of meaning beyond oneself, that she embraces along with the Communists and every secularist. Her view of selfishness embraces some good and admirable things- integrity, responsibility for self, respect for other selves. But even her heroine falls prey to the irrational, forfeits integrity by trading sex for money, as well as by old-fashioned two-timing. She wants with Leo a dependable relationship and even suggests marriage at one point. But those who insist that they are free are not free to make commitments that transcend the present moment.

⭐Everything Ayn Rand has written transcends time. This book even more so. If people wonder what the “first free country” will look like if they continue to elect political leaders who have a “death premise”,such as they have, all they need to do is read this book and they’ll know. I just hope it’s not too late.I truly believe if We The Living and Atlas Shrugged had been mandatory reading for JR/Senior High school students, respectively,even as short a time as 10-13 Yrs ago, our country would be going in an entirely different direction. Or at the least we’d be in better position to turn it around. Unfortunately, I believe our children and grandchildren have an unimaginably more difficult fight ahead of them because of the socialistic ideals of the “God-Fearing Mystics” and “Selfless Humanitarians”, leaders our generation voted into power,who’s ideals are being spread like a plague across this amazing country and turned into policy as this is being written.I wish I could go back in time to show my parents, and my younger self, the warning signs to look for. But as a Romantic Realist, I know I can only try to change what happens tomorrow and the day after that. And the only way to do that is by spreading the philosophical ideals, the morals and the Life Premise that I learned from Ayn Rand.This story is about as close to an autobiographical account of Ayn Rands life in the USSR as we will ever know. The ideals, the values of our young heroine are all here in young Kira. Her younger sister drew caricatures just as Irena did. The physical description of her Uncle Vasili is based on her father. The young character Leo, the man Kira loves, is fashioned after AR’s first love in college. A character who became so entwined with the real Leo that even though she disliked the name, she couldn’t separate the two and couldn’t change the name. The Russia she sees…you see. The Russia she lived…you live.This Russia is not a character, but the real backdrop to her story and played a big role in who the person Ayn and “Kira” became.It is a love story. Two totally different men with different lives and seemingly two very different philosophies on life. The only thing they have in common is their “soul” (not a spiritual soul”). These two men, the way the act, react, and how they see life is what draws Kira to them. When the country takes away everything you own, uses you as an example of the worst of humanity, takes away your freedom to be who you are, say what you think, do what you want, live as you want to live …what do you do?This is the premise of the story. What does communism do to your soul? What will it do to any country and to its people. It crushes their spirit. Destroys the individual with their hopes an dreams and desires. None of these things are allowed in a collective society. Every idea, thought, desire, anything that makes you an individual is stomped out of you. Every breath you take is not your own. It belongs to your comrades, your brothers and sisters. There is no “I” in socialism, communism, totalitarianism, whatever label you give it. There is only We.Spoiler alert…..Ayn Rand takes you from the beginning to the ending of the lives of these 3 young people. You will feel what they feel: joy, pain, disbelief, helplessness, hope, defiance, hopelessness, bitter cold, disgust, fear, courage beyond imagination, love without limits and the utter dispair when everything is lost and you are totally and completely alone.You will go through the ups and downs of the lives they lived, will understand who they are and what they believe in. Will wonder WHY did she do that to a beloved character, cry if you are anything like me at the loss of life and be completely in shock at how the story ends. This is no fairytale, so there is no fairytale ending. You will understand when you read her epilogue why she had to end it as she did. But you will still cry for Kira. For everything she lost and, at the very end, what she found.You only have 3 Choices when you live in a world that crushes who you are. When there’s nothing left.1. suicide- it finally breaks you2. close off your mind completely. The only thing you have that they can’t take is your mind. So you drown who you are with alcohol, parties, do anything to make yourself forget what you can never have. You don’t compromise, you don’t bend but you break. Who you are disappears and you become an empty shell of a human being. It is like a drawn out suicide.3. You run away, try to escape. You neither compromise what you believe, bend or break. You don’t lose hope or give in to the Life you know is out there for you. You run until you can’t run anymore and you escape or die trying. Either way you remain unconquered.Each of these 3 characters took a different road. Each made a different choice and each has a different ending. AR explains why each of the 3 had to go down the road they did.This is a tragic love story but more importantly, it is a tragic “Life” story. A tragedy that seems more and more possible in the country that our original leaders created to be free, one in which we believe the promise that “Life, Liberty, and The Pursuit of Happiness” can not be taken from us. We need to open our eyes. Open our neighbors eyes, the World’s eyes because this could easily become America if we stay on the path we are on. We outlawed slavery a long time ago. We can’t permit it to come back for the sake of the collective. “I” must always remain the most important word in our society. AYN RAND taught me that.

⭐An interesting look at Russia during the revolution.

⭐A masterful book. Living in Soviet Russia, Keira is loved by two men, you must decide which is the hero!

⭐Supposedly autobiographical, it’s actually a love story in the most part and the earliest version of her philosophy applied to fiction, very loosely based on Ayn’s experiences before she got away from the anti-semitic collectivist Russia, oppressed during the tzar and more so after the communist revolution. This isn’t how the book ends, but I shalln’t spoil it for you.

⭐Having read Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, I enjoyed the continuity of her philosophy in this smaller and less theoretical work. The story took priority over the mind numbingly repetitive philosophical rants which were prevalent throughout Atlas shrugged. Rand’s heroine, Kira, is an appealing and interesting character in this drama set in post October revolution Russia.DEFINITELY WORTH A READ

⭐Arrived in good condition


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