Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Vesta Dunning

“We the Living” by Ayn Rand (Written on July, 24, 2004)

Ayn Rand immigrated from Russia to the United States in 1926. She was barely able to speak the English language, but mastered it in the next twelve years.

Ayn Rand is an author with a definite philosophy: A quote from her early play ‘Ideal’, the cry of the movie star Kay Gonda:

“I want my glory real! I want to know that there is someone, somewhere, who wants it too! Or else, what is the use of seeing it, and working, and burning oneself for an impossible vision?  A spirit, too, needs fuel. It can run dry.”

Rand elaborates her viewpoint: “I believe that the worst curse on mankind is the ability to consider ideals as something quite abstract;

Ideals detached from one’s everyday life. This applies to the hypocrites who tolerate a complete break between convictions and their lives, and still believe that they have convictions. Either their ideals or their lives are worthless-and usually both”.

 Ayn Rand has her own writing style:

Her style consists in integrating the facts and their meaning, whether she is describing physical nature, human action, or the hidden emotion. The description starts by re-creating the concrete reality, then we are offered some preliminary abstractions. We accept the account and we see its inner logic. We are given some vivid images to help keeping the reality concrete and to developing the meaning further. Finally, after this buildup, we are given a single abstraction which unites facts, preliminary abstraction and images.

Consider, for example, a paragraph which describes Vesta Dunning on the screen:

“She had not learned the proper camera angles,

She had not learned the correct screen makeup;

Her mouth was too large, her cheeks too gaunt,

Her hair uncombed, her movements too jerky and angular.

She was like nothing ever seen in a film before.

She was a contradiction to all standards; she was awkward, crude, shocking,

She was like a breath of fresh air.  The studio had expected her to be hated;

She was suddenly worshiped by the public.

She was not pretty, nor gracious, nor gentle, nor sweet;

She played the part of a young girl, not as a tubercular flower but as a steel knife.

A reviewer said that she was a cross between a medieval page-boy and a gun moll.

She achieved the incredible:

She was the first women who ever allowed herself to make strength attractive on the screen”.

 Miss Rand wrote only one detective play:

She would never give the central action in a story of hers to anyone but the hero.

Thus, it was pointless writing more than one detective story.

 I read a selection from Ayn Rand unpublished fiction and edited by Leonard Peikoff.

From 1926 to 1929 there are 4 novellas:

“The husband I bought”, “Good copy”, “Escort” and “Her second career”.

During the depression from 1931 to 1934, Miss Rand worked in the studio office

Of the RKO wardrobe department and learned the movie business.

She produced in these early thirties:

“Red pawn”, excerpts from “We the living” and the play “Ideal”.

Late thirties, from 1938 to 1942, established her as a professional writer with her famous ‘The Fountainhead’.

The play “Think twice” and two unpublished excerpts from “The Fountainhead

“Vesta Dunning” and “Roark and Cameron” are from this era.

That Miss Rand decided that these two chapters were redundant

Because the characters were close replicates of her other heroes in “The Fountainhead”.

In “The husband I bought”, Irene, a young and beautiful girl, falls in love with a gorgeous and young businessman Henry Stafford.

Henry’s business got bankrupt and Irene liquidated all her properties to pay his debts.

They got married and lived four wonderful years self sufficient with their love.

Henry falls in love with an enigmatic divorced lady, elegant and more beautiful than her.

Henry is miserable because of his gratitude to his wife.

The wife faked cheating him to release him from any link with her.

Irene relocates to an undisclosed place and lives miserably

Longing to see Henry again but not meeting him.

Irene’s only goal in life was her love to Henry.

That gratitude can generate a debilitating life and is the nemesis to freedom is a recurring theme in her works.

‘Escort’ is about a gorgeous husband who work as an escort to rich ladies who need company going out.

For three years she was convinced that he worked night shifts as a shipping clerk.

For three years he never took her out dancing or for seeing a movie because he is starkly recognized in all clubs, dancing places and movie theaters.

One night, his wife calls an escort agency to have an honest night out. Her husband is handed his own address to pick up the customer.

 Ayn Rand despised Hollywood’s movies trite values

That she described as “Incommunicable vulgarity of spirit”.

She singled out an inner mental practice

Or default as the basic cause for Hollywood undiscriminating taste.

 The hero of ‘Her second career’ is a famous script writer who described the business in such terms:

“There’s no one in this business with an honest idea of what’s good and what’s bad.

There’s no one who’s not scared green of having such an idea for himself”.

 They’re all sitting around waiting for someone to tell them; begging someone to tell them.  Anyone, just so they won’t have to take the awful responsibility of judging and valuing on their own.

So merit doesn’t exist here”.

The story describes the hardships of a most famous movie star who accepts the challenge of the famous script writer to start over her movie career.

Nobody ever recognizes her in her attempts of securing even the part of an extra.

As a face saving gesture, the script writer forces the producer to give her the part of the second feminine lead in the next film.

She gave the best of her personality and experience in that film

The story ends with a reviewer stating that the film was a stupendous achievement;

But “we would like to remark in passing on a small annoyance in a perfect evening.

We are speaking of the second feminine lead.

It’s one of those innocent, insipid little things with nothing but a sweet smile

And a pretty face.  She reminds us of some star or other, but her weak,

Colorless portrayal f the country maiden shows the disadvantages of a good part in the hand of an inexperienced amateur”.

‘Red Pawn’ is about an American lady who volunteered to be the concubine of the commander of a prison (Kareyev, known as The Beast) on Strastnoy Island in the northern arctic region of the Soviet Union; an island that was a former monastery for Russian monks before the revolution.

“The civil war in Russia had given Kareyev contempt of death.  Peace gave him Strastnoy Island and contempt for life” said Miss Rand.

The prisoners are not locked in cells because there is no way for any escape.

Provisions are sent to the island twice a year.

A British merchant has arranged for Joan or (her original name of Francis)

To go to the island in order to secure the evasion of her Russian husband Michael.

The tall Beast in his forties falls in love with Francis and starts to enjoy life and the luxury attached to the inklings of Francis.

She learns to love him dearly and more than her husband.

Finally, Kareyev agrees to flee the island with Michael and Francis.

The militia catches up with them.  Her husband is seriously injured.

When Francis is asked who is her husband she points at the commander.

Kareyev is sent back to the prison to be executed as an evaded prisoner.

Francis and Michael will be helped by the British merchant to be shipped out of Russia.




June 2023

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