"We The Living"


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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

The unfortunate thing—now that I have heard some of what these three new contributions will amount to—is that I will have to get the second edition of this book into my library alongside the first.

Shoshana Migram’s new chapter is titled “Educating Kira and Leo.” In this essay, Prof. Milgram argues that Rand had studied two particular texts being used in courses at university in 1921, the setting of the students in We the Living. These texts had not been previously identified. One is N. I. Bukharin’s Theory of Historical Materialism: Popular Textbook of Marxist Sociology. (Bukharin was also a coauthor of the well-known ABC’s of Communism.*) The other is A. I. Vvedenskij’s Lectures on Ancient Philosophy. (Vvedenskij also supervised the Russian translation of Windelband’s History of Ancient Philosophy. Chris Sciabarra [1995] mentioned Vvedenskij in connections apart from Rand’s early education in ancient philosophy.)

Robert Mayhew is contributing a new chapter “The Sacred in We the Living.” This is an examination of the attitudes of Kira, Andrei, and Leo towards sacred values, in their secular sense crafted by the author in this novel.

The new contribution from Onkar Ghate is a study of Leo. It includes comparisons of the ways various souls in the novel are destroyed: Kira’s father, her sister Lydia, her uncle, her cousin Victor, and Andrei. And Leo, Kira's love. Kira’s end is in contrast: “broken, but not conquered,” as Rand described her in a journal entry.

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