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Palgrave Macmillan

The Unconquered

With Another, Earlier Adaptation of We the Living

ISBN 9781137428738
Publication Date September 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

Ayn Rand was an American novelist, philosopher, playwright, and screenwriter. She is known for her two best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system known as Objectivism.

In the 1930s, Rand was asked to adapt her first novel, We the Living, for the theatre. We the Living is a story of life in post-revolutionary Russia and Rand's first statement against communism. It was not a commercial success when it was published, but has gone on to sell over 3 million copies.

The first substantial fiction of Rand to appear in over twenty years, this important volume contains two never-before published versions of the play - the first and last versions (the latter entitled The Unconquered). With a preface that places the work in its historical and political context, an essay on the history of the theatrical adaptation by Jeff Britting, the curator of the Ayn Rand Archives, and two alternative endings, this book is a must-have for anyone interested in Rand's philosophy.

Robert Mayhew is Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Seton Hall University, USA. He is the author of Ayn Rand and Song of Russia: Communism and Anti-Communism in 1940s Hollywood and six books on ancient Greek philosophy, as well as the editor of Ayn Rand's Marginalia, The Art of Nonfiction, and Ayn Rand Answers. He is on the steering committee for The Ayn Rand Society and has been the recipient of the Loeb Classical Library Foundation Grant, an Anthem Foundation Grant, a University Research Council Award from Seton Hall University, and a Gaskin Foundation Donation.

1. We the Living (1936/37)
2. The Unconquered (1939/40)
3. Five Miscellaneous Scenes
4. The Transformation of Andrei's Speech
5. Two Alternate Endings
Afterward: Adapting We the Living for the Stage: An Essay; Jeff Britting
Appendix 1: Sources
Appendix 2: Scene Synopses and Casts of Characters
Appendix 3: A Note on George Abbott


"Mayhew has provided us with welcome access to one of the least known and least understood episodes in Ayn Rand's life: her attempts to produce a workable stage version of We the Living. In addition to its scholarly value, the various versions of the play make a surprisingly good read!" - Lester Hunt, Professor of Philosophy, University of Wisconsin - Madison, USA
"After the brief Broadway run of The Unconquered in 1940, Ayn Rand's play was never performed, never published, never available for public scrutiny. Until now. This volume showcases her repeated attempts to dramatize the core of her first novel. By presenting the first and final versions, along with excerpts from other drafts and commentary on all extant scripts, Robert Mayhew shows how Ayn Rand considered variations in her means of expression - in structure and settings, in events and dialogue, and even in the cast of characters - while maintaining, as a constant, her enduring theme. This is a guided tour of buried treasures." - Shoshana Milgram, Associate Professor of English, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, USA
"This volume delivers on several levels. As the stage adaptation of what is perhaps Ayn Rand's most passionate, poignant novel, the scripts offer a stirring romantic drama. And by revealing the specific choices that she made concerning characters, sequencing, and points of plot emphasis in alternate versions, we gain insight into Rand's literary development and philosophical thinking. Overall, The Unconquered enables us both to understand more fully Rand the thinker and once again to be captivated by Rand the storyteller." - Tara Smith, Professor of Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin, USA
"Mayhew offers us not only the spectacle of 'new' Ayn Rand fiction, her previously unpublished stage adaptation of her poignant first novel, We the Living, but also a glimpse into Rand's creative mind. By including the earliest and latest versions of her adaptations, as well as some additional alternative endings to the play, we witness Rand struggling to convey her meaning in a new medium. Admirers of Rand's literary artistry will not want to miss the sight." - Onkar Ghate, PhD, Senior Fellow, Ayn Rand Institute
"A real treat for Ayn Rand fans and for scholars interested in her ideas and intellectual and artistic development. How appropriate that these two adaptations of Ayn Rand's great anti-dictatorship, anti-communist novel be published exactly twenty-five years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Thank you, Robert Mayhew, for bringing these treasures to all of us." - Yaron Brook, Executive Director, Ayn Rand Institute
"Fans, students, and scholars will all benefit from this wonderful edition of Rand's previously unpublished stage adaptations of her first novel, We the Living. Whatever her own reservations about them, they reflect her unique spirit and literary style, and are well worth reading. The excellent supporting material included here illuminates the development both of the play and of Rand's philosophical views. Robert Mayhew has done a fine job." - Darryl Wright, Professor of Philosophy, Harvey Mudd College, USA
"Fans of Rand's fiction are sure to enjoy her two stage adaptations of her first novel, We The Living, and scholars will appreciate the care with which Mayhew assembled and presented this material. When read in conjunction with the helpful introduction and notes, the scripts provide a fresh perspective on the novel, and on Rand's development as a writer and thinker." - Greg Salmieri, Visiting Fellow in Philosophy, Boston University, USA and Co-Chair of the Ayn Rand Society
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