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We the Living (1936)

by Ayn Rand

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,866422,553 (3.82)77
We the Living portrays the impact of the Russian Revolution on three people who demand the right to live their own lives. At its center is a girl whose passionate love is her fortress against the cruelty and oppression of a totalitarian state. Ayn Rand said: It is as near to an autobiography as I will ever write.… (more)
  1. 30
    Essays on Ayn Rand's We the Living by Robert Mayhew (mcaution)
    mcaution: A one of a kind collection of scholarly criticisms on Rand's novel dealing not only with its historic perspectives but its philosophic and literary as well.
  2. 20
    Russka by Edward Rutherfurd (missmaddie)
    missmaddie: So you want to know more about the Russia that Rand wrote about? Russka will make you an expert on the country and its people (if you have the patience to finish it).
  3. 00
    Darkness at Noon by Arthur Koestler (br77rino)
  4. 01
    Progress by Charles Stampul (PeerlessPress)
  5. 02
    Petropolis by Anya Ulinich (starboard)
    starboard: Petropolis concerns a young girl growing up in current day Russia and escaping to attempt to find a better life and her father in America.
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» See also 77 mentions

English (39)  Catalan (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (41)
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
This book is one of the toughest books I have read in terms of personal conviction.

Do I hate this book ? No.
Do I love this book ? No .
But this book made me question the otherwise black and white convictions that I have had.

For me , as I started the book . I knew I should love Kira, my personal convictions demanded this . But was she really the hero that the novel made her to be ? Whatever she did , was it so different than what Andrei did. Both of them were driven by personal convictions whether it be personal gratification or belief in a social cause , which can also be considered as personal gratification . So , why was she made the undisputed Heroine?

For me, the undisputed hero of this novel is Andrei . His growth was tremendous and he always showed the strength of his character till the very last , where Madam Rand unnaturally decided to cut him off cause such nobel a character can never survive ; this is my only complain against Andrei Taganov.

Coming to think of it , I really liked Leo with his characteristic selfishness . He , I believe , represented "The Art of Selfishness" till the very end .
But, unfortunately I cannot say that for Kira. Personally, I cannot appreciate a lady who puts her entire hopes , aspiration, wishes etc on to a guy . She holds a mantel in her heart , an untouched mantel ; which I believe was not at all her responsibility or also was not something so exalted as the entire novel . Yes, I hoped in the end she would do something for herself but she again chose to follow her dreams , the dreams she thought Leo was capable of living. I don't understand her. I know my hatred towards her is a knee jerk reaction and I hope with time I can become un affected enough to see her as Rand made her . But till then , I despise her.

As a reader , I have no complain against the writing style. The closing chapter can be compared to a few of my favorite chapters. The heart wrenching desperation was very , very real unlike other "Individual V/s State" and "dystopic" materials I have read.

This book will not be one of my favorites , not yet but will surely be one of the books with the highest learning graph. ( )
  __echo__ | May 11, 2021 |
I loved the writing in this book, and even though I didn't agree with so much of what the main characters did, I was still intrigued by them and wanted to get to know them. I found myself thinking about them when I wasn't reading, as though they were real people. Granted, I can't understand Kira's obsession with Leo, but I believe she had an inner strength despite all that. I would absolutely despise life in a socialist/communist state, and I have all the more respect and admiration now for those who fought/fight against the system. Rand's characters here may seem a bit extreme, but then again, so is blind adherence to a political system that eats its own. ( )
1 vote MadMaudie | Sep 5, 2020 |
Oh Ayn.
  audsreads | Jul 19, 2020 |
With more wisdom than most people accumulate in a lifetime, Ayn Rand started writing this novel when she was a mere 25 years old. She managed to escape Russia to settle in America in 1926, several years after the Russian revolution ended, and she witnessed first-hand socialist/communist principals put into action. If you haven’t personally experienced socialism you may naively imagine a philosophy of beauty, fairness, equality, and theoretical utopia. But in reality, it is a political system of repression and corruption generally dominated by evil bullies. There is yet to be a country that has successfully implemented the idealistic socialist government. Fortunately, Ayn Rand escaped before Stalin’s first ‘5 Year Economic Plan’ which caused a famine when between 5,000,000 and 8,000,000 people starved to death, and Stalin’s ‘Reign of Terror’ in 1937 and 1938 as over 1,000,000 people were executed… merely for rumored suspicious behavior or fabricated evidence of disrespectful acts against the Socialist/Communist Regime.

In the Forward of the 1st Edition of "We the Living" Ayn Rand wrote, “This story is not a novel about Soviet Russia. It is a novel about Man against the State. It is a story of Dictatorship… it could be anywhere, at any time.” Ayn Rand’s primary goal was to share her personal experience of living in a Socialist environment and above all else, she wanted to deliver a warning to help prevent a Socialist America.

"We the Living" is semi-autobiographical. The social, cultural, and political climate are all real. Ayn explained it is a fictional plot, but the main character Kira Argounova embodies Any Rand’s intellectual and moral values, and her unique philosophy of Objectivism. Kira’s boyfriend Leo was modeled after Ayn Rand’s true love.

So, what is "We The Living" about? To set the stage- the story begins as the revolution ends. The opening scene embodies the same atmosphere as the final scene of Pasternak’s "Dr. Zhivago". Eighteen-year-old Kira, along with her bourgeois family are returning to their home town of Petrograd however the city has been re-named Leningrad and their house, business, and personal belongings have been confiscated by the state. All over the country everything has come to a standstill because prior to the revolution industrial businesses, commercial enterprises and agriculture were largely owned by the non-communist bourgeoise. The USSR government now owns everything. Since the previous owners were not registered communists (and therefore considered to be the enemies of the state - much like old white men are perceived today by many radical thinkers in the United States) they now have zero opportunities for jobs, food rations, or anything else. All products (including food and medical supplies) are divvied out by how well a person fought in the revolution, how subservient they are to the new dictators, or by bribes to friends and acquaintances in power. All survivors are struggling to resume life in peacetime despite the fact their entire existence has been turned upside down and inside out. Every person has to make the vital decision – to give in to the new system and go against everything they believe in or hold strong on their principals (of freedom and individuality) at any cost.

The plot- Kara falls in love with Leo because he shares her social, moral and political views, but in an effort to survive she secretly has an affair with a high ranking communist- a member of the G.P.U (secret service police). The story is intense, full of drama, and absolutely horrifying. Through Ayn Rand’s eyes we see life in all its terror and raw unfiltered pain where everyone lives in fear. No-one can be trusted. Not neighbors. Not friends. Not family. And no one is safe. Not even upper echelon Communist Party members. And in actuality, conditions got a thousand times worse after Ayn Rand’s timely escape.

"We The Living" is by far the most powerful novel I’ve read in 2019. ( )
1 vote LadyLo | Oct 31, 2019 |
Stupendo! una storia d'amore e la storia di un paese nell'era dell'ideologia comunista non supportato dal coerente comportamento di funzionari avidi di potere e denaro. Una protagonista , un'eroina che mi ha emozionato fino alle lacrime. ( )
  Ste1955 | Apr 24, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 39 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ayn Randprimary authorall editionscalculated
Acevedo, FernandoTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peikoff, LeonardIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
van Rheenen, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Woods, MaryNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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We the Living portrays the impact of the Russian Revolution on three people who demand the right to live their own lives. At its center is a girl whose passionate love is her fortress against the cruelty and oppression of a totalitarian state. Ayn Rand said: It is as near to an autobiography as I will ever write.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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