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The Early Ayn Rand: A Selection from Her Unpublished Fiction

(The Ayn Rand Library #2)

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  956 ratings  ·  40 reviews
This remarkable, newly revised collection of Ayn Rand's early fiction-including her previously unpublished short story The Night King-ranges from beginner's exercises to excerpts from early versions of We the Living and The Fountainhead.
Paperback, Signet Edition, 434 pages
Published December 1986 by Signet (first published August 1st 1984)
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Start your review of The Early Ayn Rand: A Selection from Her Unpublished Fiction
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
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
Mar 13, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
John Bruni
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Isla McKetta
Aug 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
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.
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.
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
lindsey martinez
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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.
Moushumi Daimari
Aug 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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 .
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 ...more
Rivka G
Apr 25, 2017 rated it liked it
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
Mar 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ayn-rand
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
Nov 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
***** 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
Juliana Es
Jun 21, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
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
Jan 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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.
May 18, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Apr 03, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: readers of short fiction
A perhaps different side of Rand, which delve into the humble roots of her school of thought.
May 09, 2007 rated it it was ok
Objectivism would be great if you guys would do it first. Rand's sentences are so ugly.
Jul 04, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Includes a couple of old school Hollywood film treatments and some awesome short stories- as for her plays, not that great
Jul 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: writers
Great short stories and plays. If you love shorts stories with a twist this is the book for you!
Feb 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
A glimpse into how she developed...most pieces are unfinished...profound glimpse into the mind of my favorite philosopher.
Angela Clayton
Jul 30, 2008 rated it it was ok
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.
Aug 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Great collection of short stories and plays. Anyone familiar with Ayn Rand will definitely recognize glimpses of future characters and plots.
Laura Wilson
Aug 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
The short stories in this book blew me away. I loved it.
Oct 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
It is a good collection, particularly the firts story The Husband I Bought is awsome.
Jan 24, 2010 rated it really liked it
Excellent examples of her writing. A good primer for those who do not want to attack Atlas Shrugged or The Fountainhead first.
Elise Baker
Aug 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Five stars only applies to "The Husband I Bought". The rest is interesting reading from the perspective of seeing a developing author. Some of it is funny, as well.
It's a very good unpublished story of Ms. Ayn Rand, and it's worth reading..
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