The revolutionary literary vision that sowed the seeds of Objectivism, Ayn Rand's groundbreaking philosophy, and brought her immediate worldwide acclaim.
This modern classic is the story of intransigent young architect Howard Roark, whose integrity was as unyielding as granite...of Dominique Francon, the exquisitely beautiful woman who loved Roark passionately, but married his worst enemy...and of the fanatic denunciation unleashed by an enraged society against a great creator. As fresh today as it was then, Rand’s provocative novel presents one of the most challenging ideas in all of fiction—that man’s ego is the fountainhead of human progress...
“A writer of great power. She has a subtle and ingenious mind and the capacity of writing brilliantly, beautifully, bitterly...This is the only novel of ideas written by an American woman that I can recall.”—The New York Times
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.70(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Born February 2, 1905, Ayn Rand published her first novel, We the Living, in 1936. Anthem followed in 1938. It was with the publication of The Fountainhead (1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1957) that she achieved her spectacular success. Rand’s unique philosophy, Objectivism, has gained a worldwide audience. The fundamentals of her philosophy are put forth in three nonfiction books, Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, The Virtues of Selfishness, and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal. They are all available in Signet editions, as is the magnificent statement of her artistic credo, The Romantic Manifesto.
Date of Birth:February 2, 1905
Date of Death:March 6, 1982
Place of Birth:St. Petersburg, Russia
Place of Death:New York, New York
Education:Graduated with highest honors in history from the University of Petrograd, 1924
Read an Excerpt
Howard Roark laughed. He stood naked at the edge of a cliff. The lake lay far below him. A frozen explosion of granite burst in flight to the sky over motionless water. The water seemed immovable, the stone flowing. The stone had the stillness of one brief moment in battle when thrust meets thrust and the currents are held in a pause more dynamic than motion. The stone glowed, wet with sunrays.
The lake below was only a thin steel ring that cut the rocks in half. The rocks went on into the depth, unchanged. They began and ended in the sky. So that the world seemed suspended in space, an island floating on nothing, anchored to the feet of the man on the cliff.
His body leaned back against the sky. It was a body of long straight lines and angles, each curve broken into planes. He stood, rigid, his hands hanging at his sides, palms out. He felt his shoulder blades drawn tight together, the curve of his neck, and the weight of the blood in his hands. He felt the wind behind him, in the hollow of his spine. The wind waved his hair against the sky. His hair was neither blond nor red, but the exact color of ripe orange rind.
He laughed at the thing which had happened to him that morning and at the things which now lay ahead.
He knew that the days ahead would be difficult. There were questions to be faced and a plan of action to be prepared. He knew that he should think about it. He knew also that he would not think, because everything was clear to him already, because the plan had been set long ago, and because he wanted to laugh.
He tried to consider it. But he forgot. He was looking at the granite.
He did not laugh as his eyes stopped in awareness of the earth around him. His face was like a law of nature—a thing one could not question, alter or implore. It had high cheekbones over gaunt, hollow cheeks; gray eyes, cold and steady; a contemptuous mouth, shut tight, the mouth of an executioner or a saint.
He looked at the granite. To be cut, he thought, and made into walls. He looked at a tree. To be split and made into rafters. He looked at a streak of rust on the stone and thought of iron ore under the ground. To be melted and to emerge as girders against the sky.
These rocks, he thought, are here for me; waiting for the drill, the dynamite and my voice; waiting to be split, ripped, pounded, reborn; waiting for the shape my hands will give them.
Then he shook his head, because he remembered that morning and that there were many things to be done. He stepped to the edge, raised his arms, and dived down into the sky below.
He cut straight across the lake to the shore ahead. He reached the rocks where he had left his clothes. He looked regretfully about him. For three years, ever since he had lived in Stanton, he had come here for his only relaxation, to swim, to rest, to think, to be alone and alive, whenever he could find one hour to spare, which had not been often. In his new freedom the first thing he had wanted to do was to come here, because he knew that he was coming for the last time. That morning he had been expelled from the Architectural School of the Stanton Institute of Technology.
He pulled his clothes on: old denim trousers, sandals, a shirt with short sleeves and most of its buttons missing. He swung down a narrow trail among the boulders, to a path running through a green slope, to the road below.
He walked swiftly, with a loose, lazy expertness of motion. He walked down the long road, in the sun. Far ahead Stanton lay sprawled on the coast of Massachusetts, a little town as a setting for the gem of its existence—the great institute rising on a hill beyond.
The township of Stanton began with a dump. A gray mound of refuse rose in the grass. It smoked faintly. Tin cans glittered in the sun. The road led past the first houses to a church. The church was a Gothic monument of shingles painted pigeon blue. It had stout wooden buttresses supporting nothing. It had stained-glass windows with heavy traceries of imitation stone. It opened the way into long streets edged by tight, exhibitionist lawns. Behind the lawns stood wooden piles tortured out of all shape: twisted into gables, turrets, dormers; bulging with porches; crushed under huge, sloping roofs. White curtains floated at the windows. A garbage can stood at a side door, flowing over. An old Pekinese sat upon a cushion on a door step, its mouth drooling. A line of diapers fluttered in the wind between the columns of a porch.
People turned to look at Howard Roark as he passed. Some remained staring after him with sudden resentment. They could give no reason for it: it was an instinct his presence awakened in most people. Howard Roark saw no one. For him, the streets were empty. He could have walked there naked without concern.
He crossed the heart of Stanton, a broad green edged by shop windows. The windows displayed new placards announcing: WELCOME TO THE CLASS OF ‘22! GOOD LUCK, CLASS OF ’22! The Class of ’22 of the Stanton Institute of Technology was holding its commencement exercises that afternoon.
Roark swung into a side street, where at the end of a long row, on a knoll over a green ravine, stood the house of Mrs. Keating. He had boarded at that house for three years.
Mrs. Keating was out on the porch. She was feeding a couple of canaries in a cage suspended over the railing. Her pudgy little hand stopped in mid-air when she saw him. She watched him with curiosity. She tried to pull her mouth into a proper expression of sympathy; she succeeded only in betraying that the process was an effort.
He was crossing the porch without noticing her. She stopped him.
“Mr. Roark, I’m so sorry about—” she hesitated demurely “—about what happened this morning.”
“What?” he asked.
“Your being expelled from the Institute. I can’t tell you how sorry I am. I only want you to know that I feel for you.”
He stood looking at her. She knew that he did not see her. No, she thought, it was not that exactly. He always looked straight at people and his damnable eyes never missed a thing, it was only that he made people feel as if they did not exist. He just stood looking. He would not answer.
“But what I say,” she continued, “is that if one suffers in this world, it’s on account of error. Of course, you’ll have to give up the architect profession now, won’t you? But then a young man can always earn a decent living clerking or selling or something.”
He turned to go.
“Oh, Mr. Roark!” she called.
“The Dean phoned for you while you were out.”
For once, she expected some emotion from him; and an emotion would be the equivalent of seeing him broken. She did not know what it was about him that had always made her want to see him broken.
“Yes?” he asked.
“The Dean,” she repeated uncertainly, trying to recapture her effect. “The Dean himself through his secretary.”
“She said to tell you that the Dean wanted to see you immediately the moment you got back.”
“What do you suppose he can want now?”
“I don’t know.”
He had said: “I don’t know.” She had heard distinctly: “I don’t give a damn.” She stared at him incredulously.
“By the way,” she said, “Petey is graduating today.” She said it without apparent relevance.
“Today? Oh, yes.”
“It’s a great day for me. When I think of how I skimped and slaved to put my boy through school. Not that I’m complaining. I’m not one to complain. Petey’s a brilliant boy.”
She stood drawn up. Her stout little body was corseted so tightly under the starched folds of her cotton dress that it seemed to squeeze the fat out to her wrists and ankles.
“But of course,” she went on rapidly, with the eagerness of her favorite subject, “I’m not one to boast. Some mothers are lucky and others just aren’t. We’re all in our rightful place. You just watch Petey from now on. I’m not one to want my boy to kill himself with work and I’ll thank the Lord for any small success that comes his way. But if that boy isn’t the greatest architect of this U.S.A., his mother will want to know the reason why!”
He moved to go.
“But what am I doing, gabbing with you like that!” she said brightly. “You’ve got to hurry and change and run along. The Dean’s waiting for you. ”
She stood looking after him through the screen door, watching his gaunt figure move across the rigid neatness of her parlor. He always made her uncomfortable in the house, with a vague feeling of apprehension, as if she were waiting to see him swing out suddenly and smash her coffee tables, her Chinese vases, her framed photographs. He had never shown any inclination to do so. She kept expecting it, without knowing why.
Roark went up the stairs to his room. It was a large, bare room, made luminous by the clean glow of whitewash. Mrs. Keating had never had the feeling that Roark really lived there. He had not added a single object to the bare necessities of furniture which she had provided; no pictures, no pennants, no cheering human touch. He had brought nothing to the room but his clothes and his drawings; there were few clothes and too many drawings; they were stacked high in one corner; sometimes she thought that the drawings lived there, not the man.
Roark walked now to these drawings; they were the first things to be packed. He lifted one of them, then the next, then another. He stood looking at the broad sheets.
They were sketches of buildings such as had never stood on the face of the earth. They were as the first houses built by the first man born, who had never heard of others building before him. There was nothing to be said of them, except that each structure was inevitably what it had to be. It was not as if the draftsman had sat over them, pondering laboriously, piecing together doors, windows and columns, as his whim dictated and as the books prescribed. It was as if the buildings had sprung from the earth and from some living force, complete, unalterably right. The hand that had made the sharp pencil lines still had much to learn. But not a line seemed superfluous, not a needed plane was missing. The structures were austere and simple, until one looked at them and realized what work, what complexity of method, what tension of thought had achieved the simplicity. No laws had dictated a single detail. The buildings were not Classical, they were not Gothic, they were not Renaissance. They were only Howard Roark.
He stopped, looking at a sketch. It was one that had never satisfied him. He had designed it as an exercise he had given himself, apart from his schoolwork; he did that often when he found some particular site and stopped before it to think of what building it should bear. He had spent nights staring at this sketch, wondering what he had missed. Glancing at it now, unprepared, he saw the mistake he had made.
He flung the sketch down on the table, he bent over it, he slashed lines straight through his neat drawing. He stopped once in a while and stood looking at it, his finger tips pressed to the paper; as if his hands held the building. His hands had long fingers, hard veins, prominent joints and wristbones.
An hour later he heard a knock at his door.
“Come in!” he snapped, without stopping.
“Mr. Roark!” gasped Mrs. Keating, staring at him from the threshold. “What on earth are you doing?”
He turned and looked at her, trying to remember who she was.
“How about the Dean?” she moaned. “The Dean that’s waiting for you?”
“Oh,” said Roark. “Oh, yes. I forgot.”
“You ... forgot?”
“Yes.” There was a note of wonder in his voice, astonished by her astonishment.
“Well, all I can say,” she choked, “is that it serves you right! It just serves you right. And with the commencement beginning at four-thirty, how do you expect him to have time to see you?”
“I’ll go at once, Mrs. Keating.”
It was not her curiosity alone that prompted her to action; it was a secret fear that the sentence of the Board might be revoked. He went to the bathroom at the end of the hall; she watched him washing his hands, throwing his loose, straight hair back into a semblance of order. He came out again, he was on his way to the stairs before she realized that he was leaving.
“Mr. Roark!” she gasped, pointing at his clothes. “You’re not going like this?”
“But it’s your Dean!”
“Not any more, Mrs. Keating.”
She thought, aghast, that he said it as if he were actually happy.
Table of Contents
|Part 1||Peter Keating||3|
|Part 2||Ellsworth M. Toohey||203|
|Part 3||Gail Wynand||405|
|Part 4||Howard Roark||527|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
What amazes me about this book, is that a lot of people are under the impression that this is a book about architecture. I remember back in `96, when I was in architecture school and people found out about it, they would ask me if I had read The Fountainhead. I would tell them I hadn¿t and they would suggest that I read it, because it is ¿a book about architecture.¿
This book is NOT about architecture.
It deals with architects. It deals with buildings. It deals with the creation process and it meaning, but that very well could have been all substituted by a painter, or a director, or a freaking plumber. This book is beyond everything else a philosophical statement on what Ayn Rand calls Objectivism, pitted against Collectivism which is its antithesis. One one end you have the ego, and the egotist, which holds above everything else the self. True, honest and unwilling to dilute his/her ideas, the egotist, stands above the thoughts of the mob, which is too simple to understand. This is Howard Roark, the genius who is calmly driven by his own confidence and morality, without need of religion and without need of assurance from his peers. On the other hand you have the man that will sacrifice the self, for the masses, the `humanitarian¿, the one Ayn Rand calls through her characters, the second-handers. These are the people that live to please the masses, that sacrifice self-worth in exchange for the praise that comes with making others happy. And of these, there are many in this book.
It is an interesting point of view, in my opinion too idealistic and extremely black and white to ever fully function in society, but the argument she makes is interesting nonetheless.
The book as a whole, philosophies aside, is interesting, even if it deals with architecture and most of the people have very little background in the subject. However, because of the philosophy that has been injected into the material, the dialogue tends to get on the heavy side, and some of the characters seem a bit too extreme to seem real. As a result, this is not the type of book that one becomes a part of, but rather one that we can see unfold in a rather voyeuristic sense. There is nothing particularly wrong with that, but its simply a different approach.
Though I do not agree with the idea of objectivism, and I fail to see the world in the way this book describes, there is a lot of good points raised, a lot of material that brings up for interesting thought and conversation if you are into discussing philosphy. But you do not have to agree with the book to appreciate it for its fine quality, its intricate plot, its very fleshed out characters and twists which one never quite sees coming.
This is a heavy, intelligent read and one that requires a bit more of an investment from the reader, where nothing is quite left in the surface and written out over 727 pages in small print. If you pick up this book, expect to put time into getting through it. I personally am not a fast reader, so it took me a while¿but the content and the story are intriguing that one never quite feels like it is dragging.
Anyone that has read Ayn Rand's fiction is familiar with her complex character development, her intelligent plot progression, and her unique and captivating philosophies. The Fountainhead falls seamlessly in line with the other fantastic works in Rand's impressive collection. I was intimidated when I first began this book. Rand's other pieces have shown great depth of understanding and contain abstract, advanced concepts on politics, society, and mankind itself. However, everything that I had read had been reasonably short, like her novel Anthem, which is around one hundred and fifty pages, or her 120 page long play, Night of January 16th. It is a story of a man that will not give up his self to the common way of thinking. He holds firm to his daring and controversial ideas in spite of those who strive to break him. Howard Roark, the hero of The Fountainhead, is a bold, intelligent architect with unfailing integrity. He meets one obstacle after another as he tries to build in a society that glorifies classical architectural forms and refuses to accept Roark's modern and innovative designs. Peter Keating is Roark's past colleague who gives up everything that makes up his spirit in order to gain success in the competitive world of architecture. He hates Roark for his integrity and honorable, unfailing ideals. Dominique Francon is the stunning, fascinating, intelligent daughter of a prestigious architect, who falls terribly in love with Howard Roark, but tries to tear down his career and marries his enemy. A vast number of people work to sabotage Roark's career, but find that he will not yield. The Fountainhead is a beautiful tribute to the spirit of man. Rand depicts the courage that must be had in order for a man to cleave to his innate ego and power and portrays how inspiring that strength can be. I think her concept is magnificent; - that people are willing to succumb to the popular opinion or the accepted norm and give up their true selves, their souls (in a secular sense) to simply obtain recognition. Her flawless and intricate writing adds to the depth of her story and philosophy. This is a book that takes reflection and a willingness to search for understanding, but the reward will surely justify the effort.
Rand's writing is captivating and intelligent. The character development is wonderful, and I was unable to put the book down. I have recommended The Fountainhead to multiple friends and to my book club with rave reviews from anyone who's read it. It is an important addition to anyone's personal library.
There not enough words to praise this book...a masterpeice. A must read.
Ayn Rand is one of the most intelligent authors i've ever know of. Her books are not only well written, but enjoyable too. Fountainhead is intellecually stimulating and will keep you thinking. You may even have to read it twice! It's really not about architecture at all, but the concept that man's self centered mental stability is the fountainhead of life and how decisive they are. If you are looking for something to make you smarter.... this is it!
The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand was a very complex book. It covers many ideas, such as the manipulation of the human psyche, and the nature of the imagination. The story is about a controversial architect named Howard Roark, who is shunned by many people for his radical ideas. It features a variety of characters, such as Peter Keating, an ambitious architect, Ellsworth Toohey, a manipulator of men, and Gail Wynand, the owner of a multi-million dollar news corporation. The Fountainhead explores the media and how it is influenced by its owners and writers. It also has a large focus on altruism, especially towards the end of the book. Rand basically says that altruism is simply a facade for men to appear benevolent. The ignorance of mankind and its shunning of new ideas is a major theme of this book. I did not really enjoy The Fountainhead for a variety of reasons. One of the numerous things that I did not like about Rand¿s book was the way in which she describes her characters. They are very flat and static. For example, the main character, Roark, is not very believable as a person as he does not show any emotion or seem to care about anything. Another reason is Rand¿s writing style. It is much too flat and monotonous for me. Although she makes good use of imagery, the book is lacking in fluidity and other literary techniques, such as metaphors. In conclusion, The Fountainhead¿s underlying messages were good, but the way in which they were transmitted onto the page were not as well done.
This is my first Ayn Rand book and I was a bit worried that there would be too much lecture and not enough story. Well the story line is excellent and the character development superb. I felt all sorts of feelings and the story did challenge me to look at societal dynamics. I would highly recommend this book to anyone willing to think and challenge him/herself. It was a very enjoyable book, I look forward to reading more of Ayn Rand's work.
Ayn Rand has written a novel that is also a warning to future generations. While her expression of her personal phylosophy may not resonate with everyone, we can all understand her assertion that man, or women, should not begin life under the blanket of mediocrity. Her characters show individuals who celebrate their own abilities and demand nothing from others except respect for that ability. The story takes us on a journey where we are not really sure where it will end but with an ending that does not surprise the reader. Ms. Rand's style does not lend itself well to casual dialogue between her characters so they sometimes come off a bit contrived, but althentic nonetheless. This is not a book for anyone looking to spend a quiet afternoon with simple, light fare. it is a story for those who wish to stimulate their intellect.
In light of this being not just a magnificently written literary work, but a POWERFULLY influential philosophical work above all, I truly can’t recommend The Fountainhead highly enough! Should you wisely choose to read it with an intellectually receptive mind without ramparts guarding your treasured virtues, this will quite surely be a life advancer. It glorifies self-sufficiency, individualism, and living a life fundamentally founded on personal objectives, relatively indifferent to the praise or disparagement of others and fueled by nothing but a self-perpetuating flame thats a reason of its own. It’s deciding to become a psychologist because the human mind leaves you insatiably fascinated (an end unto itself), surmounting the secondary reality that what you’ll technically be doing for a living is greatly helping people (which is quite awesome too). Be ready to inspect the foundation that your current beliefs rest on, and with that preliminary in place, just start reading and let this masterpiece help you find any cracks in your philosophical pavement, P.S. - try not to be too bewildered should you find any, whether they're barely discernible cracks, or gaping holes that need filling.
Part of the appeal of ebooks was that they where supposed to be more economically, 27.99 is definitely not part of the reason why i bought my nook. Like with the ebook version of atlas shrugged, you will get more bang for your buck buying the actual book version, at a ridiculously low price of about, 9.99$-- and still have left over for another copy! How or why anyone would think that buying this ebook at almost 3 times the price of the paperback is a good investment, is beyond me.
The Fountainhead is a character study of people with and without integrity. The hero is uncompromising in his approach to others as well as to himself. The "villain" is one whose sole purpose in life is to manipulate others into compromising their integrity. The other characters are gradients along the line of integrity. I chose this book because I had read Atlas Shrugged by the same author and found that the issues it addressed were as relevant to this time as it was when it was written. I hoped for more of the same from The Fountainhead. While it was worth the read, I enjoyed Atlas Shrugged more.
This is by far one of my favorite reading experiences to date. The material was provoking, evocative, intelligent, and philosophical. Above all else within this novel is packaged a wonderful story with characters, while archetypes, that manage to feel truly tangible. The Fountainhead is the story of a man fighting for what he believes in. But above that, it's the story of every man who has ever gone against the status quo. It's a story not for the revolutionaries, but for that first man who sparked the change, whatever that change may be. It's an utterly fascinating work of literature and something I believe everyone should read at least once.
A novel as epic as the architecture it describes! Rand spares the reader no detail as to the life and times of her characters. Drawn into a world of movement and manipulation, the reader discovers the motivations, aspirations and weaknesses of the various characters, each representing Rand's philosophical perceptions of world: the followers and power mongers will fail while the earnest and strong will win. This now defunct view still stands in its historical context and provides an interesting backdrop on thinking's evolution. Rand's symbols are obvious, but solid and consistent. Her rants and preachy dissertations at the end, however, do make the novel unnecessarily long - if the reader hasn't understood her meaning by then, there is no hope! Dominique and Roark's relationship also bothered me: I'm not sure how dominance and power play reinforce Rand's message; surely as soul-mates, these violent games were a bit far-fetched.Overall a compelling political novel which will stay with me for a long time.
Excellent book portraying Ayn Rand's ideas on individualism versus collectivism. Other reviewers have characterized her character dialogue as "leading the reader by the hand", but as a philosophical book, I found it quite helpful. Howard Roark, as the ideal man, still has emotional issues I have disagreement with, but overall the concept of individual effort trumping collective compromise is one worthy of exploration.
Among the best books ever written.
One of the most influential books I will ever read. Highly recommended to everyone. It has profoundly influenced how I think about the motivations for my actions. Do I do things because of the happiness or usefulness that they bring to myself, or because of the reactions of others? Rand's definition of selfishness, and her praise of it, struck me like a ton of bricks. A selfish person, Rand says, is a self-sufficient ego. The opposite is a "second hander."
I admire Rand as a philosopher and The Fountainhead certainly made me think, though I had read Atlas Shrugged previous to it and the themes were by and large the same. Her views include the importance of the individual over the collective, the denial of self-sacrifice as an ideal, the need for the superior man to be free from convention innovating to advance humanity, the unrecognized debt humanity has to superior men, etc. Rand's "true virtues" : reason, competence, innovation, achievement, independence, perseverance, not wavering or compromising, and being brutally honest to oneself and to others.You get the idea. As a novelist, Rand is average. Her characters are caricatures - the positions they take are stilted to an extreme, and their actions and dialogue are sometimes laughable. She also comes across as preachy; the plot is a vehicle to deliver her philosophy, and if one doesn't agree with that philosophy, I imagine these would be long, painful books.The 1949 movie with Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal is worth seeing if you're a fan of this book.
I was pleasantly surprised at how into this book I got. It reads well and the characters are believable in relation to her philosophy. Howard Roark is one of my new literary heroes. She brings up many obvious truths that are often hard to detect in real life, although I'm not sure I completely agree with her philosophy. Definitely makes you think differently. I am excited to read her other books and learn more about it.
One of the greatest works of American literature in the twentieth century. This book has a wonderful plot, larger-than-life characters, an epic struggle, powerful romance, and yet still retains a level of realism and relevance to daily life. In essence it is about an idealistic young man named Howard Roark who seeks to live life by his own rules and refuses to compromise his life's work (architecture) to those who have no principles or morals. Roark is the strong, independent, and moral hero that many Americans idolize, yet his moral system is a bit different from the mainstream (Roark, like Rand, is an atheist). Those who might be tempted to avoid the novel because they think they might disagree with the underlying philosophy or because they have heard rumors about Ayn Rand are truly missing out.
maybe, the greatest book ever written...
One of the two works by Rand that is worth reading. I really liked the characters and the story. The message is pretty clear. I would say to read this, wait two or three years, and then read Atlas Shrugged. Why the two or three year wait? Simply put, the message is the same in all of Rand's works. Reading one after the other would be too monotonous.
I honestly don't know where to begin with this one. I've been putting it off for some time. I would go so far as to say I've been experiencing writer's block, all because I've wanted to write about this book, but felt so not up to doing so. It is simply one of the finest works of literature I have ever read. From the preface of the novel, Rand blasts the current condition of "throw-away" novels, books that are disposable and honestly forgettable. I've read many books such as this, and they are stacked on my bookshelves, as if they were some treasure to which I would gleam some future knowledge. She goes further to say that most books now lack the permanence of the 19th century Romantic novel. And this is exactly what I would compare The Fountainhead with. It brings the images of Frankenstein standing resolutely at the North Pole, or Friedrich's Traveler painting and thrusts them into the 20th century. In an earlier post, I talked about the conversation I had with Dr. Pepetone on whether Romanticism was inherently a Conservative movement or not. Of course, this was the beginnings of the thought processes that would turn Romanticism, with those bold characters that would shun society for individual values, to the Political idea of Libertarianism. And this is what Ayn Rand's books have been known for today, namely, being the cornerstone of Libertarian thought. I have wondered, since reading this amazing book, why it was never included in the courses I took on Romanticism and the Byronic hero, since Rourke is one of the best examples of that model in the 20th century. Further, Rourke brings the ideas of Capitalism and Anti-societal thought (marching to the beat of your own drum) together to show why Social Progressiveness is bringing about the downfall of human drive and magnificence. Only once, in the recent past, has society come together to achieve a goal that would truly be considered magnificent. The Moonshot that happened 40 years ago, landing man on the Moon. But I digress. I want to talk about the book itself, not the philosophies behind it. Roarke, and Francone, and the other Protagonists are as finely constructed as the architecture that Roarke builds. In fact, for the most part, every character is molded and shaped as if by an artist skilled in her work like no other. I've never actually read descriptions of characters, as they are usually done poorly. But Rand paints visages that are unique and instantly form on the mind's eye. The descriptions of the settings are likewise, painted with words as eloquent and austere as a slash of a artist's brush would instantly create a world to explore. Each word is essential, every syllable needed to create the world that Roarke lives in. The buildings and even the natural settings become intricate characters in the story. And the love story....ahhh.... it is the best romance (small r) novel I have read, with strength and passion, deception, banter, everything that a master romance novelist would need, except, in this case, you don't just donate it to Goodwill afterward, you keep it on your shelf and read it over and over. It is Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights written a century later, with the repressed passions and the flashes of desire and lust springing forth. It is truly a work that exalts the human spirit, and makes Pope's declaration of studying man all the more true, as the potential of what man can do on this Earth should shine as brightly now as ever before, and not sink into the mire of Reality Television and the uncaring world of people I see everyday. It's just not fair. People should be better than that. The Fountainhead is a love story about what it means to be human, to shine in all our glory, to the unlimitless potential that we have going forward. I say this because after reading Rand's book, I saw Star Trek, and read Brian Greene's The Elegant Universe. Both deserve blogs in their own time, but suffice it to say that these examples of the unconquerable human spirit
Awful book. And this is And Rand's best. Long pedantic speeches plugged in as character dialogue, preachy, obvious. There is some interesting quality to the main character, you can identify with him in spite of the preachiness and wordiness, but not enough to save the book. I wonder if the movie kept that interesting quality and ditched the preachy bits?
Rand's hero, Howard Roark, is an architect that creates buildings using simple lines, doesn't copy anyone's or any time period's style, and never adds a single element that doesn't absolutely need to be in the building to serve a function. The other architects in the book, the bad guys like Peter Keating, always either carbon copy other styles or add superfluous ornamentation to their buildings. If Rand had written her book more like Roark and less like Keating then it may well have been a great book. This 680 page book could have been about half as long and packed twice the punch. Rand spends too much time illustrating her character's integrity or lack thereof. She frustrated this reader by continuing to hammer home points about her characters long after she had sufficiently illustrated these points. As a novel The Fountainhead is merely so-so. Some of the character's motivations are implausible and many of the book's premises are downright unbelievable. But, ok, Rand was using this novel to platform her philosophy. I cannot help but think that her point would have been better served by a (much) shorter essay. She claims to be speaking to people of intelligence but yet treats her audience as dullards who didn't get her point the first 7 times around.
A decent piece of fiction but I can not tag it as a philosophical book (which some people claim it is!). Her ideas of individualism and objectivism are old and quite obvious! The characters are well sketched and are quite interesting, but I did feel that they lack reality and were on the other side of extreme, each one of them! The only reason I can think of her getting so much attention and acclaim is because she was a Russian who hailed Capitalism.In a nutshell, worth a read, but not the masterpiece you may have heard it being referred to as!