Just noticed today: the most recent edition of We the Living has something new; at the beginning of chapter I.16, the words “THE PURGE,” previously appearing in ordinary typescript, now appear in handwritten form:
I’m guessing that the text is in Rand’s handwriting, borrowed from her original manuscript – I can’t imagine they’d do this otherwise. But there’s no announcement or explanation of the change. (Which, alas, is typical of the Randarchs; more drastic changes than this have previously passed in silence, from the deletion of a section of Rand’s introduction to The Fountainhead discussing Frank O’Connor’s painting Man Also Rises, to the deletion of the original ending of Night of January 16th.)
Are you re-reading the novel? I re-read it in 2012, for the first time in two decades. I liked it, but I was struck by how badly the first 100 pages or so were edited. Even a minimally engaged editor could have made a couple of dozen changes that would have improved the text, but no one did. I think Rand was right in this case to think that her publishers were setting her up for failure, or at least in not setting her up for success. Hard to imagine why they didn’t do a better editing job except that they didn’t want to.
As for the change you mention, I can only shake my head at it and move on–so bizarre and yet so typical. At this point, re the “Randarchs,” I think I’ve gotten past the reflexive outrage stage and moved to the ennui and indifference stage. Call it “the right to ignore the Randocracy.” There’s nothing more boring than corruption.
I was rereading it for a course on Nietzsche and modern literature (Thomas Mann, André Gide, D. H. Lawrence, and Rand) that I was scheduled to teach this term, but it didn’t make its enrollment.
The version in print was thoroughly re-edited by Rand for its 2nd edition so I doubt any editors are to blame. But i wasn’t struck by a need for editors.
Speaking of the Mann family, I recently read Erika Mann’s book on education in Nazi Germany, and was struck by how much her Germany looked like Rand’s Russia in WTL.
Happily, the same proposed course made its enrollment in a later year.