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I learned about Objectivism by attending a local Objectivist social group - I got there through an Humanist group I was attending at the time (long story) - and I had never read any of Ayn Rand's works. The second event we attended, I cornered one of the organizers, and talked to her for a long time about different things. She told me that I needed to start reading Rand's works, and suggested I started with Anthem, which I did, and then read The Founntainhead and Atlas Shrugged. I read We The Living last.

I wished I had started with We The Living first - mostly because that is how I like to read authors in chronological order. This is my favorite piece of fiction by Ayn Rand.

While I was angry at Kira for many of her choices through out the novel, I thought the ending - the final paragraph was extremely moving, and summed up really - for me anyhow-what Kira's struggle was all about.

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Sherry:

I am re-reading We The Living now for the umpteenth time and I agree with you it is possibly her best work.

Since I am a die hard romantic, it really enmeshed me.

Adam

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It is my favorite Ayn Rand novel as well. Her characters were so HUMAN. I am not sure I would have enjoyed the ending as much if I hadn't already read her other fiction works and several of her essays, because I may not have "gotten it".

I recommend it to anyone I meet that has read any of her other novels.

My husband and I will buy up copies of her non fiction book of essays or her novels when we see them at HalfPrice Books and lend or give them out to people that have not read her works. I get a lot of satisfaction out of that.

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Look into Barbara Branden biography of Ayn Rand and her excellent discussion of We the Living. I don't know if the film version is available at NetFlix but try and watch it. It is well worth seeing. The story is very interesting but I'll let you find that out on your own.

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  • 10 months later...

“There’s something in each of us, something like the very heart of life condensed” (216).

I read We the Living after Fountainhead and Atlas. That would have been in August of 1968, after the summer session at college. In that month, each year, I would stay a while with my sister in Colorado Springs. It was there I finished reading We the Living, a powerful novel. Closing the book, I cried for an hour. I could not stop. I took a walk around the neighborhood, but I could not stop.

One person whom I had introduced to Rand’s ideas and literature was my sister-in-law in Tulsa. She was an avid reader of fiction. She told me that when she finished We the Living she threw that book against the wall of the room and wept.

This is a powerful novel, whose center is the heroine Kira Argounova. Kira is the one whom one loves in the experience of this novel. Earlier that summer of ’68, I had found my first love, Jerry. We were both nineteen. On his twenty-first birthday, I gave him a silver chain ID bracelet. On the back, I had them engrave these words: life undefeated. That is from the close of Kira’s story. He told me that when he first turned over the bracelet and saw the inscription, those words said me more than even my name Stephen. My name was the last word he spoke from his deathbed at age forty-one. His consciousness climbed up and spoke only that word. In my eulogy for him at his memorial service, I placed lines near the end that are lines from Kira’s end. Each summer, I wear his bracelet when I return at sunrise to the place at the lake where I spread his ashes.

In a note, in his book On Ayn Rand, Allan Gotthelf wrote: “Those who have read We the Living, and fell in love with its heroine, Kira Argounova, as I did at age 19, . . . .” This is a powerful novel.

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Oddly, this is the one Rand novel I've never completed, even after several attempts, tho have seen the movie version several times... the horrors of the life in those times bothers me too much to keep reading to the end... Like Schindler's List, too much to take in for me...

Edited by anonrobt
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Oddly, this is the one Rand novel I've never completed, even after several attempts, tho have seen the movie version several times... the horrors of the life in those times bothers me too much to keep reading to the end... Like Schindler's List, too much to take in for me...

I also found the story quite depressing. Have only read it once, years ago.

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  • 4 months later...

.

I have just learned of a review here at OL, by Fred Seddon, of Essays on Ayn Rand’s We the Living.

I have additional thoughts on We the Living here: 1, 2, 3, 4

.

Edited by Stephen Boydstun
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Oddly, this is the one Rand novel I've never completed, even after several attempts, tho have seen the movie version several times... the horrors of the life in those times bothers me too much to keep reading to the end... Like Schindler's List, too much to take in for me...

And yet I should add that the movie version is enjoyable, and have seen it several times, from its initial theatrical release to owning VHS and DVD copies...

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I learned about Objectivism by attending a local Objectivist social group - I got there through an Humanist group I was attending at the time (long story) - and I had never read any of Ayn Rand's works. The second event we attended, I cornered one of the organizers, and talked to her for a long time about different things. She told me that I needed to start reading Rand's works, and suggested I started with Anthem, which I did, and then read The Founntainhead and Atlas Shrugged. I read We The Living last.

I wished I had started with We The Living first - mostly because that is how I like to read authors in chronological order. This is my favorite piece of fiction by Ayn Rand.

While I was angry at Kira for many of her choices through out the novel, I thought the ending - the final paragraph was extremely moving, and summed up really - for me anyhow-what Kira's struggle was all about.

SherryTX,

Since you will be reading Ayn Rand's non fiction books I want to be sure to encourage you to obtain a copy of The Objectivist Newsletter. In The Virtue of Selfishness and in Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal you will find that the essays all were originally published in The Objectivist Newsletter, affectionately referred to at OL as TON, you may think that there is little point to getting a copy. There are a wealth of essays and book reviews as well as Intellectual Ammunition Dept articles in TON printed no where else. Worth finding and keeping!

Sources include The Atlas Society bookstore www.atlassociety.com and The Ayn Rand Institute

http://www.aynrandbookstore2.com/searchprods.asp

Others may recommend The Objectivist and The Ayn Rand Letter also but TON dealt with more fundamental issues to my way of thinking. Others here may disagree and suggest those too.

In any case welcome to the future, or what might be and ought to be, if we can help to make it happen.

http://www.campaignforliberty.com

http://www.fff.org

http://www.mises.org

http://www.cafehayek.com

Sooner or later you will discover that Ayn Rans admired Victor Hugo and was inspired as a child by overhearing her mother reading one of his novels to her grandmother, in particular a scene from Ninety-Three. She felt awed that such a man could exist in this world and she decided that that was the kind of world in which she wanted to live, a world inhabited by such heroic men and women.

gulch

Edited by galtgulch
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  • 1 month later...
  • 2 months later...

I learned about Objectivism by attending a local Objectivist social group - I got there through an Humanist group I was attending at the time (long story) - and I had never read any of Ayn Rand's works. The second event we attended, I cornered one of the organizers, and talked to her for a long time about different things. She told me that I needed to start reading Rand's works, and suggested I started with Anthem, which I did, and then read The Founntainhead and Atlas Shrugged. I read We The Living last.

I wished I had started with We The Living first - mostly because that is how I like to read authors in chronological order. This is my favorite piece of fiction by Ayn Rand.

While I was angry at Kira for many of her choices through out the novel, I thought the ending - the final paragraph was extremely moving, and summed up really - for me anyhow-what Kira's struggle was all about.

It is a compelling story. As well, for me, one of the strongest political take-aways in addition to the obvious testimony of her witnessing an out of all control totalitarian alternative, was her pithy observation about the proper role of government in our lives, paraphrased as "We need the plumbing, but we don't live for it. Just because we need the plumbing, we don't let plumbers run our lives."

regards,

Fred

Edited by Frediano
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That's one of my favorite ideas and phrases from WTL also! I've often thought that it could just as well apply to Objectivism as to plumbing and the state. Just because we need philosophy doesn't mean we have to live for it...philosophy is suppose to live for us not the other way around.

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Oddly, this is the one Rand novel I've never completed, even after several attempts, tho have seen the movie version several times... the horrors of the life in those times bothers me too much to keep reading to the end... Like Schindler's List, too much to take in for me...

I can understand that you find the events in We the Living, like Schindler's List, painful to encounter. But they are real events, they occurred in the world you live in, the world you need to know about and understand. What these books do is to give such events a iiving reality not found in newspaper headlines or history textbooks. You need to know what these books show you: not only that such horrors occurred, but what they did to the lives of people one comes to care about, to people like oneself. If we have any hope of banishing such atrocities from our future, it will be only by allowing them full reality in our minds and emotions.

Barbara

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Oddly, this is the one Rand novel I've never completed, even after several attempts, tho have seen the movie version several times... the horrors of the life in those times bothers me too much to keep reading to the end... Like Schindler's List, too much to take in for me...

I can understand that you find the events in We the Living, like Schindler's List, painful to encounter. But they are real events, they occurred in the world you live in, the world you need to know about and understand. What these books do is to give such events a iiving reality not found in newspaper headlines or history textbooks. You need to know what these books show you: not only that such horrors occurred, but what they did to the lives of people one comes to care about, to people like oneself. If we have any hope of banishing such atrocities from our future, it will be only by allowing them full reality in our minds and emotions.

Barbara

One of the final scenes in Schindler's List, where Schindler, speaking before the Jews he has saved, cries as he berates himself for not saving more, is one of the most heart-wrenching scenes I have ever seen.

And the Nazi played by Ralph Fiennes is one of the creepiest characters I have ever seen in a movie.

Ghs

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Oddly, this is the one Rand novel I've never completed, even after several attempts, tho have seen the movie version several times... the horrors of the life in those times bothers me too much to keep reading to the end... Like Schindler's List, too much to take in for me...

I can understand that you find the events in We the Living, like Schindler's List, painful to encounter. But they are real events, they occurred in the world you live in, the world you need to know about and understand. What these books do is to give such events a iiving reality not found in newspaper headlines or history textbooks. You need to know what these books show you: not only that such horrors occurred, but what they did to the lives of people one comes to care about, to people like oneself. If we have any hope of banishing such atrocities from our future, it will be only by allowing them full reality in our minds and emotions.

Barbara

One of the final scenes in Schindler's List, where Schindler, speaking before the Jews he has saved, cries as he berates himself for not saving more, is one of the most heart-wrenching scenes I have ever seen.

And the Nazi played by Ralph Fiennes is one of the creepiest characters I have ever seen in a movie.

Ghs

Oh yes. Spielburg put his very best into this movie.

Oscar (Oskar?) Schindler fascinated me in the film depiction as an unwilling hero.

The fascination is that he thought that what he did was what any 'normal' human should. He just wasn't aware of the fact that few could see as clearly as he did of the utterly banal evil.

IOW, an objectivist, and a compassionate man of action: what is really fascinating, but unsurprising, is that all three elements are non-contradictory!

Pity, I suppose he goes down in history as a noble altruist.

Tony

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IOW, an objectivist, and a compassionate man of action: what is really fascinating, but unsurprising, is that all three elements are non-contradictory!

Pity, I suppose he goes down in history as a noble altruist.

Tony

In Jewish history, Schindler is remembered as a mensch.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Edited by BaalChatzaf
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IOW, an objectivist, and a compassionate man of action: what is really fascinating, but unsurprising, is that all three elements are non-contradictory!

Pity, I suppose he goes down in history as a noble altruist.

Tony

In Jewish history, Schindler is remembered as a mensch.

Ba'al Chatzaf

Every good little Jewish boy is a 'mensch' - to his mother, at least!

I think Schindler was posthumously accorded the ultimate accolade in Israel, as "Righteous Person".

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  • 3 weeks later...

Oddly, this is the one Rand novel I've never completed, even after several attempts, tho have seen the movie version several times... the horrors of the life in those times bothers me too much to keep reading to the end... Like Schindler's List, too much to take in for me...

I can understand that you find the events in We the Living, like Schindler's List, painful to encounter. But they are real events, they occurred in the world you live in, the world you need to know about and understand. What these books do is to give such events a iiving reality not found in newspaper headlines or history textbooks. You need to know what these books show you: not only that such horrors occurred, but what they did to the lives of people one comes to care about, to people like oneself. If we have any hope of banishing such atrocities from our future, it will be only by allowing them full reality in our minds and emotions.

Barbara

I liked Barbara’s comment.

The theme of We the Living is the metaphysical self-preservation of man in a specific setting, a dictatorship. Self-preservation is an issue that must be faced by every individual in every generation, in any country at any time. It is inescapable and every human being must ultimately deal with these issues because of the fact that we are mortal and have a specific way of surviving, whether one lives in a dictatorship or not, whether one is young or old.

Art and philosophy must address all aspects of life or they fail to be relevant and meaningful. The Man Who Laughs is necessary along with Les Miserables and We the Living is necessary alongside Atlas Shrugged. They are all integrations of the basic nature and conditions, though not contradictions, of human existence.

I am a college student and I am glad to have read We The Living early in my life, when I think Ayn Rand meant it to be read. Every book that aims to be serious must have historical and psychological reality.

Edited by Jules
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“There’s something in each of us, something like the very heart of life condensed” (216).

I read We the Living after Fountainhead and Atlas. That would have been in August of 1968, after the summer session at college. In that month, each year, I would stay a while with my sister in Colorado Springs. It was there I finished reading We the Living, a powerful novel. Closing the book, I cried for an hour. I could not stop. I took a walk around the neighborhood, but I could not stop.

One person whom I had introduced to Rand’s ideas and literature was my sister-in-law in Tulsa. She was an avid reader of fiction. She told me that when she finished We the Living she threw that book against the wall of the room and wept.

This is a powerful novel, whose center is the heroine Kira Argounova. Kira is the one whom one loves in the experience of this novel. Earlier that summer of ’68, I had found my first love, Jerry. We were both nineteen. On his twenty-first birthday, I gave him a silver chain ID bracelet. On the back, I had them engrave these words: life undefeated. That is from the close of Kira’s story. He told me that when he first turned over the bracelet and saw the inscription, those words said me more than even my name Stephen. My name was the last word he spoke from his deathbed at age forty-one. His consciousness climbed up and spoke only that word. In my eulogy for him at his memorial service, I placed lines near the end that are lines from Kira’s end. Each summer, I wear his bracelet when I return at sunrise to the place at the lake where I spread his ashes.

In a note, in his book On Ayn Rand, Allan Gotthelf wrote: “Those who have read We the Living, and fell in love with its heroine, Kira Argounova, as I did at age 19, . . . .” This is a powerful novel.

Thank you for sharing your experience, Stephen. While I had a similar reaction to the novel, I haven't gone through life yet. I hope the promise of "life undefeated" will prove as resilient as it was for you.

Edited by Jules
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Oddly, this is the one Rand novel I've never completed, even after several attempts, tho have seen the movie version several times... the horrors of the life in those times bothers me too much to keep reading to the end... Like Schindler's List, too much to take in for me...

Anonrobt,

As everyone here who has both read the book and seen the movie version realizes, the endings are not at all the same. In the movie Kira is seen walking back to the garden where she spent time with the love of her life and then the scene fades out, if I remember correctly.

I served in the military for thirteen months in South Korea in 1970. There I met a young man who was a pharmacist and worked next store to my department. We spoke and he was open to listening to reason. I made him aware of Ayn Rand's philosophy and let him borrow a copy of We The Living. He was reading the last chapter one day as I approached. I recall his emotional reaction as he read the ending which he found quite moving. It was not a description of Kira entering a garden.

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  • 2 months later...

Oddly, this is the one Rand novel I've never completed, even after several attempts, tho have seen the movie version several times... the horrors of the life in those times bothers me too much to keep reading to the end... Like Schindler's List, too much to take in for me...

I can understand that you find the events in We the Living, like Schindler's List, painful to encounter. But they are real events, they occurred in the world you live in, the world you need to know about and understand. What these books do is to give such events a iiving reality not found in newspaper headlines or history textbooks. You need to know what these books show you: not only that such horrors occurred, but what they did to the lives of people one comes to care about, to people like oneself. If we have any hope of banishing such atrocities from our future, it will be only by allowing them full reality in our minds and emotions.

Barbara

http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/etheory/1905-1985/20Kautsky-Lenin.htm

As we wrote in July 1920 and even earlier exposing this regime for what it was...

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Oddly, this is the one Rand novel I've never completed, even after several attempts, tho have seen the movie version several times... the horrors of the life in those times bothers me too much to keep reading to the end... Like Schindler's List, too much to take in for me...

I can understand that you find the events in We the Living, like Schindler's List, painful to encounter. But they are real events, they occurred in the world you live in, the world you need to know about and understand. What these books do is to give such events a iiving reality not found in newspaper headlines or history textbooks. You need to know what these books show you: not only that such horrors occurred, but what they did to the lives of people one comes to care about, to people like oneself. If we have any hope of banishing such atrocities from our future, it will be only by allowing them full reality in our minds and emotions.

Barbara

http://www.worldsocialism.org/spgb/etheory/1905-1985/20Kautsky-Lenin.htm

As we wrote in July 1920 and even earlier exposing this regime for what it was...

Is there a point here, other than the one on your head?

Ghs

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  • 3 months later...

.

At the Objectivist Summer Conference 2011, Shoshana Milgram, Robert Mayhew, and Onkar Ghate will discuss new chapters they have written for the forthcoming expanded edition of Essays on Ayn Rand’s We the Living.*

My own discussion of We the Living is here: 1, 2, 3, 4

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