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This remarkable, newly revised collection of Ayn Rand's early fiction-including her previously unpublished short story The Night King-ranges from beginner's exercises to excerpts from early versions of We the Living and The Fountainhead. This remarkable, newly revised collection of Ayn Rand's early fiction-including her previously unpublished short story The Night King-ranges from beginner's exercises to excerpts from early versions of We the Living and The Fountainhead.


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This remarkable, newly revised collection of Ayn Rand's early fiction-including her previously unpublished short story The Night King-ranges from beginner's exercises to excerpts from early versions of We the Living and The Fountainhead. This remarkable, newly revised collection of Ayn Rand's early fiction-including her previously unpublished short story The Night King-ranges from beginner's exercises to excerpts from early versions of We the Living and The Fountainhead.

30 review for The Early Ayn Rand: A Selection from Her Unpublished Fiction

  1. 4 out of 5

    sologdin

    Part IX of a multi-part review series. Juvenilia & outtakes. Forgettable shorts and irrational realist dramas. Scenes from We the Living and The Fountainhead that were left on the cutting room floor, but that editor thinks are interesting. Several texts are pre-McCarthy red scare, trite even in the 1930s. Most interesting bits are Peikoff’s editorial comments. For instance, “the novels of the mature Ayn Rand contain superlative values that are unique in our age” (vii). We find no outtakes from Atlas Part IX of a multi-part review series. Juvenilia & outtakes. Forgettable shorts and irrational realist dramas. Scenes from We the Living and The Fountainhead that were left on the cutting room floor, but that editor thinks are interesting. Several texts are pre-McCarthy red scare, trite even in the 1930s. Most interesting bits are Peikoff’s editorial comments. For instance, “the novels of the mature Ayn Rand contain superlative values that are unique in our age” (vii). We find no outtakes from Atlas Shrugged presented in this collection because “there are no excerpts from [the] manuscript long enough to warrant publication” (ix). I think that means she jotted down whatever she wanted and then did not edit anything away: perfect mental composition prior to reduction to tangible form. Just like Mozart! Peikoff incomprehensibly states later however: “Ayn Rand was a champion of literary economy; she was ruthless in cutting passages she considered inessential” (193). ORLY!? Introduces the short “The Husband I Bought” with a Rand comment from The Romantic Manifesto that the purpose of her writing is “the projection of the ideal man” (3). The corollary female representation is the heroine who experienced “man-worship” when confronted with the ideal man hero (id.). (The actual story opens with “I should not have written this story” (7), which is one of the few Randian statements with which I agree completely.) The point of the story for Objectivism is that it shows “the passionate valuer, who will bear the greatest suffering, if necessary, rather than settle for something less than the ideal” (37). Sounds like an endorsement of sacrifice. OH NOS! “Good Copy” is an Objectivist parable of how “suffering is an exception, not the rule of life” (37), and in Rand’s estimation “deals with only one ‘big issue,’ the biggest of all: can man live on earth or not?” Although I’m fairly certain that many dorms full of freshman pot-smokers have come to the correct conclusion on this critical question without reading Rand’s short, it reveals the exaggerated sense of self-importance that objectivism conveys upon its adherents, and demonstrates the limits of their reading. Heroine of the short is “the opposite of a feminist. ‘Women,’ she tells [hero] warmly at one point, ‘are the bunk’” (38). Charming! Fourth short attempts to nail down “the importance of values in human life” (85) (third short is entirely forgettable, barely more than a short short). Fifth item is gulag literature, a practice run for We the Living. Peikoff affirms that “Rand’s full objection to dictatorship involves her whole system of philosophy, including her view of the nature of reality and the requirements of the human mind,” but in this one “the argument is reduced to its essence”: “Communism demands that the individual renounce his independence,” and “The answer to Communism, Ayn Rand held, is the recognition of man’s right to exist” (123). So, yeah, we’re in neverneverland here. This reduction-to-essence thesis however should be considered an admission that everything in her writings outside of “Red Pawn” is inessential (contrary to Rand’s ruthless-cutting-inessentials, supra). I therefore move the Court for summary judgment on the basis of this admission, and seek an order that all of her other writings be dismissed with prejudice. “Red Pawn” (I keep wanting to write “Red Dawn”) deploys the “sub theme” of “the philosophic identity of Communism and religion” (124), which is based on a paragraph’s juxtaposition of christian iconology with portraits of Lenin in a monastery that the CP took over. Peikoff thinks this is brilliant, but it strikes me as tendentious--and, to be honest, palimpsestial relations are not avoidable. Peikoff reveals why all of her fiction is extremely bad: “In accordance with her view that evil is impotent, the villains in Ayn Rand’s fiction rarely rise to the role of dominant, plot-determining figures. For the most part, like [villain in “Red Pawn”], they are peripheral creatures doomed by their own irrationality to failure and defeat” (124). (This is an arbitrary interpretation because the villain of “Red Pawn” ultimately wins through his own competence and the protagonists either lose or go to an ambiguous end.) Because Rand stacks the deck against her villains, her stories have no conflict, no freytagian movement, no catastrophe or denouement, nothing that was considered important to the Aristotelian tradition that she claims to cherish in her aesthetic manifesto. Rather, her protagonists make stirneresque grievance against duly constituted public authority, which is considered sufficient to state an allegedly romanticist “plot.” Peikoff explains that Rand’s play, Ideal, features a “pure exponent of evil” who is a “spokesman for Platonism” (206). Yawning now. Another play, Think Twice, is a murder mystery, focusing on “the evil of altruism” (293). Snoring now. Recommended for readers who think that men of ability are considered dangerous by Soviet Russia, those who are too selfish to be conceited, and Vikings who had laughed at kings, who laughed at priests, who had laughed at men, who had held, sacred and inviolable, high over all temples, over all to which men knew to kneel, his one banner--the sanctity of life.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Marilag

    For all Leonard Peikoff's periodically pointing out that Ayn Rand's grasp of English was poor in the beginning of her writing years, it is still much better than a lot of native English writing today. Sure, some of the phrasing was a little awkward, and I cringed a bit at her attempt at capturing the slang in "The Night King," but overall her style and sense of the dramatics hasn't disappeared. I actually liked some of her earlier works, and a little sad that she didn't further develop her more h For all Leonard Peikoff's periodically pointing out that Ayn Rand's grasp of English was poor in the beginning of her writing years, it is still much better than a lot of native English writing today. Sure, some of the phrasing was a little awkward, and I cringed a bit at her attempt at capturing the slang in "The Night King," but overall her style and sense of the dramatics hasn't disappeared. I actually liked some of her earlier works, and a little sad that she didn't further develop her more humorous side to storytelling. I loved her works during the '20s ("The Husband I Bought," "Escort," "Good Copy," and "Her Second Career"), which, while they were clearly the beginnings of various philosophical ideas, had a more light-hearted style as opposed to her dramatic and passionate works in The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. This is probably owing to the fact that her later years were littered with rejection letter after rejection letter. You can tell the bitterness in her stories during that time. "Red Pawn" was probably a personal favorite for her stories in her later years; but again, this story was much closer to her actual writing than the early stuff. I barely touched the two plays, mostly because by that point I wanted to get straight to the Fountainhead excerpts (the bit about Vesta Dunning is the closest to a fanfic that Ayn Rand herself wrote about Howard Roark!), which were amazingly written, if a bit out of character for the orange-haired architect. Now that I've read excerpts of Roark, I'm almost tempted to pick up The Fountainhead again. Almost. But a re-read of Ayn Rand would probably last me weeks. Perhaps just a few skimmed passages then...

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    Gigantic book, but full of great stuff. There are some more "conventional" plot types especially early in the book, but since Rand is writing them they come across as totally distinctive in terms of characters, motivation, description of setting, etc. Since she is a philosophical novelist its interesting to see which concepts come across most strongly in which stories. Like the real cheery ones are all about how life's default state is gaiety and joy, and the darker ones are all about the strugg Gigantic book, but full of great stuff. There are some more "conventional" plot types especially early in the book, but since Rand is writing them they come across as totally distinctive in terms of characters, motivation, description of setting, etc. Since she is a philosophical novelist its interesting to see which concepts come across most strongly in which stories. Like the real cheery ones are all about how life's default state is gaiety and joy, and the darker ones are all about the struggle of the individual egoist against the world, ya get it. Red Pawn is pretty much identical to We the Living in terms of the relationships between the characters and the theme, but the identities of the characters are totally different, it was written for TV, and it has a totally different setting. Of the unpublished excerpts, I didn't read the ones from The Fountainhead (havent read that yet). However there was one scene cut from We the Living called "Kira's Viking". In We the Living, Kira references a fairy tale she heard as a child about a viking, which has since become a personal symbol of individuality and whatnot to her. Apparently Rand actually wrote the story about the viking and its pretty good. Well thats enough rambling.

  4. 4 out of 5

    R.K. Cowles

    3 3/4 stars

  5. 5 out of 5

    John Bruni

    This is a pretty interesting book, mostly because it gives us stories from Ayn Rand before she was Ayn Rand. For example, I had no idea that she used to be a genre writer. She's got a few stories in here that could have come from O. Henry's mind. In another story, Rand comes off sounding like Raymond Chandler. It's a whole new side to her I've never seen before. There's also a pretty interesting play in here about what happens when a disgraced Hollywood starlet goes on the lam and starts hiding This is a pretty interesting book, mostly because it gives us stories from Ayn Rand before she was Ayn Rand. For example, I had no idea that she used to be a genre writer. She's got a few stories in here that could have come from O. Henry's mind. In another story, Rand comes off sounding like Raymond Chandler. It's a whole new side to her I've never seen before. There's also a pretty interesting play in here about what happens when a disgraced Hollywood starlet goes on the lam and starts hiding out at the houses of fans who wrote her letters. Really odd stuff for Rand, and I can't help but like her more for it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Isla McKetta

    Better than I thought it would be, this book is not just for the devoted Rand fan. Although if you're looking for characters that are more than archetypes and an emphasis on the real rather than the ideal, this won't be your book. Still the stories and plays are forceful and compelling and it is interesting to have insight into Rand's process as she learns both English and how to write. I did have one chuckle when the editor (a Rand devotee) lauded Rand's concision. Better than I thought it would be, this book is not just for the devoted Rand fan. Although if you're looking for characters that are more than archetypes and an emphasis on the real rather than the ideal, this won't be your book. Still the stories and plays are forceful and compelling and it is interesting to have insight into Rand's process as she learns both English and how to write. I did have one chuckle when the editor (a Rand devotee) lauded Rand's concision.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jessica Blethen

    I absolutely love Ayn Rand. I own every book she has written (I think). I love how she illustrates the way of life in Soviet Russia through a first hand knowledge in her first works and how she plays them into her stories. She is amazing. The philosophies behind her greatest works are AMAZING. She is... amazing in herself.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    3.5 stars The Early Ayn Rand is an interesting foray into Rand's early, previously unpublished short stories and chapter excerpts. Some of it was pretty rough like "The Husband I Bought" and "Think Twice" while others were near full maturity like "Her Second Career". The notes by Leonard Peikoff added a nice context about each work as well as his insight from being a personal companion to Ayn Rand are second to none. Overall I enjoyed reading these selections, however if you are not a fan of Ayn R 3.5 stars The Early Ayn Rand is an interesting foray into Rand's early, previously unpublished short stories and chapter excerpts. Some of it was pretty rough like "The Husband I Bought" and "Think Twice" while others were near full maturity like "Her Second Career". The notes by Leonard Peikoff added a nice context about each work as well as his insight from being a personal companion to Ayn Rand are second to none. Overall I enjoyed reading these selections, however if you are not a fan of Ayn Rand's works you will not appreciate this book and would probably find it a waste of your time.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    I really enjoyed most of the works in this collection, including the plays. The structure of the book definitely does a great job of showing how the author advances her skills over time. As noted by the editor, the early works are not as good as the published Rand we are used to, but I am very glad they are included. I also thought the editor's prologues were exceptional, especially the specific examples that were used to highlight the author's philisophies and literary style. Reading this has i I really enjoyed most of the works in this collection, including the plays. The structure of the book definitely does a great job of showing how the author advances her skills over time. As noted by the editor, the early works are not as good as the published Rand we are used to, but I am very glad they are included. I also thought the editor's prologues were exceptional, especially the specific examples that were used to highlight the author's philisophies and literary style. Reading this has inspired me to reread Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead , as well as other Rand novels.

  10. 4 out of 5

    lindsey martinez

    very interesting to see the progression of ayn rand's writing. peikoff's notes also add useful analysis of rand's writing style and details of her personal life as each of these works were written. very interesting to see the progression of ayn rand's writing. peikoff's notes also add useful analysis of rand's writing style and details of her personal life as each of these works were written.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Moushumi Daimari

    Lesser layered , more direct style than her other works is what I felt but the simplicity of these is what to me made them even more poignant . “The Husband I bought “ truly broke my heart .

  12. 4 out of 5

    Lisa (Harmonybites)

    This is a collection of Ayn Rand's early unpublished fiction. I wouldn't recommend this to someone not already a fan of her writing. If I weren't already, I don't know that I'd consider any piece here a standout (with the exception of the 1939 play, Think Twice.). To a fan it definitely has it's fascinations however, seeing the flashes of genius even in the earliest works here, where her "command of English" (Rand emigrated from Russia in the twenties) was still shaky. I have to say though, most This is a collection of Ayn Rand's early unpublished fiction. I wouldn't recommend this to someone not already a fan of her writing. If I weren't already, I don't know that I'd consider any piece here a standout (with the exception of the 1939 play, Think Twice.). To a fan it definitely has it's fascinations however, seeing the flashes of genius even in the earliest works here, where her "command of English" (Rand emigrated from Russia in the twenties) was still shaky. I have to say though, most of those early pieces were surprisingly fun and lighthearted. "Good Copy," and "Her Second Career" in particular were witty and smile-provoking, even if not thought-provoking. Her 1934 play, Ideal left me cold--it reminded me of her one produced play, Night of January 16th, my least favorite of the works published in her lifetime--her heroine seemed simultaneously flat and melodramatic--a Dominque Francon, who I had found the most problematic of Rand heroines. I did like Think Twice much better, although no I wouldn't defend it as great literature. But it's clever and entertaining. I'd put this last on the list of Rand's works to read. But if you did love her other work, Atlas Shrugged, Fountainhead, Anthem and We, the Living, then this is worth considering.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rivka G

    This collection of Rand's early works demonstrates the radical improvements in the author's writing, stylistically and philosophically. Readers should be forewarned that many pieces are very different from Rand's later work, as she developed her philosophy and writing skills. Readers can mark her progress, and this makes the excerpts all the more enjoyable. Two of the best pieces include "Good Copy" and "Think Twice." "Good Copy" is drastically different from Rand's later writing - the piece is This collection of Rand's early works demonstrates the radical improvements in the author's writing, stylistically and philosophically. Readers should be forewarned that many pieces are very different from Rand's later work, as she developed her philosophy and writing skills. Readers can mark her progress, and this makes the excerpts all the more enjoyable. Two of the best pieces include "Good Copy" and "Think Twice." "Good Copy" is drastically different from Rand's later writing - the piece is short, humorous, and relatively simple in character and plot. "Think Twice", a murder "mystery" is unlike many of the standard murder stories, such as Agatha Christie. The character's lines, without use of banter, show quickly the thinking of each character. "Mystery" has been placed in quotations because Rand makes very clear early on who the murderer will be. As editor Leonard Peikoff encourages in the introduction, "The Early Ayn Rand" should not be the first book read of the author's works. The book can be better appreciated and understood to the reader who already has read the published works, for he can better appreciate the build of her style and her command of the English language. (less)

  14. 4 out of 5

    Shinde

    Even as a beginner, Ayn does not seem like a fumbling amateur. She displayed crisp self-editing, the power of visual-evocation and occasionally, even a breezy sense of humor. My favorites include : Vesta Dunning: Howard's pre-Dominique passion (I wrote romantic interest and then erased it. Romance seems too frivolous an emotion for Howard.)It contains some of her best lines, which were ultimately gleaned from here and put in the final version. Think Twice: Her pre-Altas Shrugged mixture of scienc Even as a beginner, Ayn does not seem like a fumbling amateur. She displayed crisp self-editing, the power of visual-evocation and occasionally, even a breezy sense of humor. My favorites include : Vesta Dunning: Howard's pre-Dominique passion (I wrote romantic interest and then erased it. Romance seems too frivolous an emotion for Howard.)It contains some of her best lines, which were ultimately gleaned from here and put in the final version. Think Twice: Her pre-Altas Shrugged mixture of science-philosophy-antiphilanthropy-passion. Ayn's cryptic statement, 'I will never be able to write a 'whodunnit' suddenly seems obvious and very much in-sync with her persona when she reveals her reason at the end. Her second career: A movie diva pretends to be dead and then embarks on the struggler-to-success path as an adventure. Has its moments of dark humor and pathos. Good Copy: Surprised this hasn't still been adapted for a movie. An inept journalist kidnaps a spoilt rich girl for ransom. Follows a surprisingly light and bubbly Rom-Com. A very un-Ayn Hero, complete with dimples. I mean, one cannot imagine Howard with dimples! Don't miss this one, if you adore Ayn's works.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    This book is a collection of the early works by novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand (author of "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead"). The collection is worth the price simply for Dr. Leonard Peikoff's analysis of Rand's literary method in the preface to the passages on "The Fountainhead". Even though this book is unedited material, it still surpasses the quality of work of just about any author. There are some excellent stories in this collection, with the highlight on "Red Pawn", a sort of prec This book is a collection of the early works by novelist and philosopher Ayn Rand (author of "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead"). The collection is worth the price simply for Dr. Leonard Peikoff's analysis of Rand's literary method in the preface to the passages on "The Fountainhead". Even though this book is unedited material, it still surpasses the quality of work of just about any author. There are some excellent stories in this collection, with the highlight on "Red Pawn", a sort of precursor to Rand's "We the Living" set at a Soviet prison, in which a courageous woman infiltrates to find her husband. Even at this early state of Rand's career, her writing is powerful and economical, capable of evoking stronger emotions than emotionalists claim to invoke. Of particular interest are the excerpts from "The Fountainhead", which contain some of Rand's self-asserted "most beautiful writing", and the passages with the omitted character Vesta Dunning certainly stand up to that worthy praise.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Tokoro

    3.5 ***** for "A Good Copy," (1920s) the character of Steve Ingalls from the "Think Twice" whodunit play (1930s), and what was cut from the final version of "The Fountainhead"— which had what Leonard Peikoff described as her best writing and so far. I agree, as well as characterization of Howard Roark here. ****ish for Red Dawn (1930s), but I was not pleased with how she ended it. I got it on a whim to see what the development of her mind and writing looked like, to hopefully contribute to understa 3.5 ***** for "A Good Copy," (1920s) the character of Steve Ingalls from the "Think Twice" whodunit play (1930s), and what was cut from the final version of "The Fountainhead"— which had what Leonard Peikoff described as her best writing and so far. I agree, as well as characterization of Howard Roark here. ****ish for Red Dawn (1930s), but I was not pleased with how she ended it. I got it on a whim to see what the development of her mind and writing looked like, to hopefully contribute to understand her being so hated and loved. This is my semi-introduction to Rand in an extended manner, as I've only read the first 40 pages of The Fountainhead at a Books-A-Million once. I will expand later by including some of Peikoff's notes on her writing in general and on these cut Fountainhead sections, which he sees as not contributing to the novel, but beautiful nonetheless.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Juliana Es

    The Early Ayn Rand is a collection of the author's unpublished works. Her early twenties short stories such as Red Pawn, Good Copy, and Her Second Career, though not considered masterpiece, are very engaging and leave a strong impression. These are stories that you will not forget easily. If you are a beginner in Ayn Rand, this book is a good start. Her unpublished works may be flawed, but they are unique and strong, which spark my curiosity and set my interest to explore the author's famous work The Early Ayn Rand is a collection of the author's unpublished works. Her early twenties short stories such as Red Pawn, Good Copy, and Her Second Career, though not considered masterpiece, are very engaging and leave a strong impression. These are stories that you will not forget easily. If you are a beginner in Ayn Rand, this book is a good start. Her unpublished works may be flawed, but they are unique and strong, which spark my curiosity and set my interest to explore the author's famous works: Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    This book shows how much it's possible to improve if you put your mind to it. I was also really happy to read shorter stories of Rand's, and see more of how her ideology has evolved through the years! I don't doubt I'll go back to this book at times, and read stories like Good Copy and Ideal over again. I also greatly enjoyed the unpublished parts from We the Living and The Fountainhead. Definitely a must-read for those who enjoyed Ayn Rand's other novels. This book shows how much it's possible to improve if you put your mind to it. I was also really happy to read shorter stories of Rand's, and see more of how her ideology has evolved through the years! I don't doubt I'll go back to this book at times, and read stories like Good Copy and Ideal over again. I also greatly enjoyed the unpublished parts from We the Living and The Fountainhead. Definitely a must-read for those who enjoyed Ayn Rand's other novels.

  19. 4 out of 5

    JP

    Peikoff talks a lot about her maturing during the 20+ year span here, but her work is interesting from the beginning. In some ways, we see the raw stuff of which her later ideas and characters were formed. Most of the works are captivating, including: The Husband I Bought, Good Copy, Her Second Career, Red Pawn, Ideal, and Think Twice.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Sabrina Ryan

    Interesting compilation of Ayn Rand's early short stories - her first written stories in English upon arriving in America. It is interesting to see her progression of mastering the English language and has many twisting plot stories that are sometimes great and sometimes lacking. Interesting compilation of Ayn Rand's early short stories - her first written stories in English upon arriving in America. It is interesting to see her progression of mastering the English language and has many twisting plot stories that are sometimes great and sometimes lacking.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    A perhaps different side of Rand, which delve into the humble roots of her school of thought.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Objectivism would be great if you guys would do it first. Rand's sentences are so ugly. Objectivism would be great if you guys would do it first. Rand's sentences are so ugly.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    Includes a couple of old school Hollywood film treatments and some awesome short stories- as for her plays, not that great

  24. 5 out of 5

    Teresa

    Great short stories and plays. If you love shorts stories with a twist this is the book for you!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bryan

    A glimpse into how she developed...most pieces are unfinished...profound glimpse into the mind of my favorite philosopher.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Angela Clayton

    Ah, the allure of "unpublished fiction" of a beloved author. Like the siren song. Steer your ships away from this one unless you are really in for the long haul. Ah, the allure of "unpublished fiction" of a beloved author. Like the siren song. Steer your ships away from this one unless you are really in for the long haul.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    Great collection of short stories and plays. Anyone familiar with Ayn Rand will definitely recognize glimpses of future characters and plots.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Laura Wilson

    The short stories in this book blew me away. I loved it.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mikias

    It is a good collection, particularly the firts story The Husband I Bought is awsome.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rich

    Excellent examples of her writing. A good primer for those who do not want to attack Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead first.

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