Letter 001, pg. 1

To Lyolya (Lev/Leo) Bekkerman

Ayn Rand arrived in America on February 18, 1926. She stayed with relatives in Chicago for six months, writing the following letter—the earliest discovered—just before she left for Hollywood. It is written to the young man who, at that time, represented her idea of a romantic hero and who would later become the model for Leo Kovalensky, a main character in We the Living. This letter, much edited and written in Russian by AR, was presumably recopied and then sent to him in Leningrad.


August 28, 1926

Hello [written in English] Lyolya,

There was a time when I loved that American expression of yours [referring to “hello”] and now I am using it myself, because they don’t have any other expression here. Thank you for your letter. Though a little late, I am fulfilling my promise to you. You said you wanted to have an American to correspond with. I am writing to you as a real “American resident.”

I am so Americanized that I can walk in the streets without raising my head to look at the skyscrapers; I sit in a restaurant on very high chairs like in futuristic movie sets and use a straw to sip “fruit cocktails,” brought to me by a real Negro “servant”; I have learned to cross the street without getting hit by a car, while traffic cops yell “come