©1936 Ayn Rand; (P)1991 Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Just days before twenty-one year old Alisa Rosenbaum escaped Leninist Russia to sail for the United States, she was enjoined by a friend to tell the world that "Russia is a huge cemetery and we are all dying." We The Living, by that same young emigre, writing now in English and calling herself Ayn Rand, was the result. It is the most accurate portrayal of life in the late workers' paradise ever committed to words. It is also a compelling work of art, and harbinger of the greatness to come.
Though the least explicitly philosophic of Ayn Rand's novels, We The Living was for me, because of its emotional intensity, the most difficult to read. Kira's relationships with Leo and Andre, her perseverance vis-a-vis the hopelessness of her situation--her struggle to breathe in a wretchedly airless environment--were nearly more than I could bear.
Listen, cry, learn, and rejoice. If you are not already familiar with the works of Ayn Rand, this is a marvelous place to begin.
I have sort of a love/hate relationship with this book. It is so intense and maddening, although I believe it is an accurate portrayal of Russia during the post Bolshevik Revolution times. Ayn Rand was such a powerful writer. After finishing this book I had to get a lighter one.
Ayn Rand stands head and shoulders above most authors in her ideology. She understood what makes the world work-best. As to literature We The Living was her best effort. I feel that because she lived most of it, the story was easy to write because it was her story.
Mary Woods reading of Ayn Rand's novel/bio was marvelous with her accent just where it should be and still be easy listening, Great job all around on this one.
This novel is one of my favorites. Rand was able to depict the despair of living under a totalitarian regime very well. Coming from Soviet Russia myself, I can say that not many things have changed from birth to collapse of the Communist State.
The only thing I didn't like was the production. The narrator reads without any emphasis, and at times way too fast. One will probably get more out of reading it, rather than listening to this production.
The voice matched exactly what I would expect Kira to sound like. But all the voices were well done.
I found Andre to be the most memorable in that he developed and grew more through out the book than anyone else.
A strong recommendation the all listen to the forward as written by Ayn in 1958. It does much to give you understanding about her, as well as her reasons and desires in writing this book. The characters in the book are very real and very believable and I believe you'll find it hard to not both love and hate many of the prime characters. Often loving and hating them at the same time, you can experience their feelings at an exceptional depth.
(a little bit of a spoiler here so read at your own risk)
I think most westerners, myself included, will find the resolutions within the book a little hard to take and a bit unsettling, but I understand the necessity and the value of the reality expressed. Written any other way it would not be exceptional book it is.
Say something about yourself!
All the character voices she does - Impressive! Also, the realism of the story...understanding what life was really like in St. Petersburg/Petrograd, Russia. How would some of us Americans live and cope under the circumstances? Imagining America under a communist government with such oppression is scary.
Classic Ayn Rand themes. The look into Russian past was fascinating. The story moved a lot slower than with Fountain Head and Atlas Shrugged for me. I found it much easier to connect with Howard Roark and Hank Rearden and Dagney Taggart. But the story was solid and eye opening. I can see the progression of her beliefs through her writings. Calling this the 'closet thing to a biography I have ever written', you can definitely see where her believe in the Individual above all else came from!
Still a huge fan. But if you're new to Rand, start with Fountain Head or Atlas Shrugged.
It's been a long while since I have been so disappointed and chagrined by the ending of a story. There was not a single story line or character ending that resolved the way I would have hoped or wanted. It left me heart sick and sad. When it ended, I couldn't believe that could possibly be the end. Her other books have had a more hopeful ending. Guess this one just blindsided me.Even so, it is an AMAZING story of love, unrequited love, sacrifice, endurance, courage ... the list goes on. Not to be missed.
Have not read other books with such a completely developed love story. Others fall short of the depth in this story.
Her characterizations of women were pretty good. There are a lot of very different men in this book with lots of variations in their personalities that didn't quite translate for me in her reading of them.
I have read Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead before I found this book and the three of them fit together perfectly. Anyone that has enjoyed any of Rand's book should read this one too.
The narrator does a good job and does not distract from the story.
"Petrograd smelt of carbolic acid"
You don’t have to buy into Rand’s philosophy to enjoy this book. An engaging story and interesting portrait of the decay of Bolshevism in the 1920s. Excellent narration – although I can imagine that some may not take to the voice (so listen to the audio sample).
"Objectivism - the fountainhead of folly"
Ayn Rand is a made up name - Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum, Objectivism is a made up philosophy - Subjectivism of the highest order, actually. Lingering descriptions of what a pretty girl Kira Argounova is and endless details as to what she and the other female characters are wearing at any given point in the 'action,' seem to be the basis for this paeān to early twentieth century American capitalism. How ironic that the wild west unfettered capitalism that was unleashed on the post-Mikhail Gorbachev Soviet bloc by Reagan's proto-neo-con zealots is now blowing a wintery chill back through the pipelines of Gazprom. Rand's anti-totalitarian dream extends no further than a pair of silk stockings and the ability to manipulate one-dimensional males. Compare and contrast this one with Upton Sinclair's 'The Jungle' - worthy in aims but lacking in literary quality. Great to read around and nice to have the authentic voice but really, Miss Rand, there's more to life than French lingerie.
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