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The Fountainhead

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Overview

The Fountainhead, possibly the most influential and controversial novel of ideas in American history, presents a philosophy of vital interest to anyone seeking an understanding of our present-day culture. As relevant and exciting now as it was for those who clamored to read it when it burst upon the scene in 1943, this book continues to focus worldwide attention on its brilliant author, who pointedly asks, "Is it possible to be an individual in today's world?"

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The Fountainhead

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Overview

The Fountainhead, possibly the most influential and controversial novel of ideas in American history, presents a philosophy of vital interest to anyone seeking an understanding of our present-day culture. As relevant and exciting now as it was for those who clamored to read it when it burst upon the scene in 1943, this book continues to focus worldwide attention on its brilliant author, who pointedly asks, "Is it possible to be an individual in today's world?"

A phenomenal bestseller since its publication in 1943, The Fountainhead brought Ayn Rand's philosophy of Objectivism to a worldwide audience. As original today as it was when it was written, this novel reinvents the modern-day hero. This anniversary edition includes a special afterword by Leonard Peikoff and excerpts from Rand's own notes about the book.

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Editorial Reviews

Purette
Ayn Rand is a writer of great power. She has a subtle and ingenious mind and the capacity of writing brilliantly, beautifully, bitterly.
New York Times
Lorine Purette
Ayn Rand is a writer of great power. She has a subtle and ingenious mind and the capacity of writing brilliantly, beautifully, bitterly. -- Books of the Century; New York Times review, May 1943
Purette
Ayn Rand is a writer of great power. She has a subtle and ingenious mind and the capacity of writing brilliantly, beautifully, bitterly. -- The New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451191151
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 9/28/1996
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Pages: 720
  • Sales rank: 23,534
  • Product dimensions: 4.10 (w) x 6.60 (h) x 1.70 (d)

Meet the Author


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AYN RAND is the author of Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged, and numerous non-fiction essays on philosophy, ethics, politics, art, and literature. Her philosophy, Objectivism, has gained a worldwide audience of adherents and admirers. She died in March 1982.

Biography

Ayn Rand was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on February 2, 1905. At age six she taught herself to read and two years later discovered her first fictional hero in a French magazine for children, thus capturing the heroic vision that sustained her throughout her life. At the age of nine she decided to make fiction writing her career. Thoroughly opposed to the mysticism and collectivism of Russian culture, she thought of herself as a European writer, especially after encountering authors such as Walter Scott and—in 1918—Victor Hugo, the writer she most admired.

During her high school years, she was eyewitness to both the Kerensky Revolution, which she supported, and—in 1917—the Bolshevik Revolution, which she denounced from the outset. In order to escape the fighting, her family went to the Crimea, where she finished high school. The final Communist victory brought the confiscation of her father's pharmacy and periods of near-starvation. When introduced to American history in her last year of high school, she immediately took America as her model of what a nation of free men could be.

When her family returned from the Crimea, she entered the University of Petrograd to study philosophy and history. Graduating in 1924, she experienced the disintegration of free inquiry and the takeover of the university by communist thugs. Amidst the increasingly gray life, her one great pleasure was Western films and plays. Long a movie fan, she entered the State Institute for Cinema Arts in 1924 to study screen writing.

In late 1925 she obtained permission to leave Soviet Russia for a visit to relatives in the United States. Although she told Soviet authorities that her visit would be short, she was determined never to return to Russia. She arrived in New York City in February 1926. She spent the next six months with her relatives in Chicago, obtained an extension to her visa, and then left for Hollywood to pursue a career as a screenwriter.

On Ayn Rand's second day in Hollywood, Cecil B. DeMille saw her standing at the gate of his studio, offered her a ride to the set of his movie The King of Kings, and gave her a job, first as an extra, then as a script reader. During the next week at the studio, she met an actor, Frank O'Connor, whom she married in 1929; they were married until his death fifty years later.

After struggling for several years at various non-writing jobs, including one in the wardrobe department at the RKO Corporation, she sold her first screenplay, Red Pawn to Universal Studios in 1932 and saw her first stage play, Night of January 16th, produced in Hollywood and then on Broadway. Her first novel, We the Living, was completed in 1933 but was rejected by publishers for years, until The Macmillan Company in the United States and Cassells and Company in England published the book in 1936. The most autobiographical of her novels—it was based on her years under Soviet tyranny—We the Living was not well-received by American intellectuals and reviewers. Ayn Rand was up against the pro-communism dominating the culture during "the Red Decade."

She began writing The Fountainhead in 1935. In the character of the architect Howard Roark, she presented for the first time the kind of hero whose depiction was the chief goal of her writing: the ideal man, man as "he could be and ought to be." The Fountainhead was rejected by twelve publishers but finally accepted by the Bobbs-Merrill Company. When published in 1943, it made history by becoming a best seller through word-of-mouth two years later, and gained for its author lasting recognition as a champion of individualism.

Ayn Rand returned to Hollywood in late 1943 to write the screenplay for The Fountainhead, but wartime restrictions delayed production until 1948. Working part time as a screenwriter for Hal Wallis Productions, she began her major novel, Atlas Shrugged, in 1946. In 1951 she moved back to New York City and devoted herself full time to the completion of Atlas Shrugged.

Published in 1957, Atlas Shrugged was her greatest achievement and last work of fiction. In this novel she dramatized her unique philosophy in an intellectual mystery story that integrated ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, politics, economics and sex. Although she considered herself primarily a fiction writer, she realized that in order to create heroic fictional characters, she had to identify the philosophic principles that make such individuals possible. She needed to formulate "a philosophy for living on earth."

Thereafter, Ayn Rand wrote and lectured on her philosophy—Objectivism. She published and edited her own periodicals from 1962 to 1976, her essays providing much of the material for nine books on Objectivism and its application to the culture. Ayn Rand died on March 6, 1982, in her New York City apartment.

Every book by Ayn Rand published in her lifetime is still in print, and hundreds of thousands of copies are sold each year, so far totaling more than twenty million. Several new volumes have been published posthumously. Her vision of man and her philosophy for living on earth have changed the lives of thousands of readers and launched a philosophic movement with a growing impact on American culture.

Author biography courtesy of The Ayn Rand Institute.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Alice Rosenbaum (real name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 2, 1905
    2. Place of Birth:
      St. Petersburg, Russia
    1. Date of Death:
      March 6, 1982
    2. Place of Death:
      New York, New York

Read an Excerpt

"...Architecture, my friends, is a great art based on two cosmic principles: Beauty and Utility. In a broader sense, these are but part of the three eternal entities: Truth, Love and Beauty. Truth — to the traditions of our Art, Love — for our fellow men whom we are to serve, Beauty — ah, Beauty is a compelling goddess to all artists, be it in the shape of a lovely woman or a building....Hm....Yes....In conclusion, I should like to say to you, who are about to embark upon your careers in architecture, that you are now the custodians of a sacred heritage....Hm....Yes....So, go forth into the world, armed with the three eternal enti — armed with courage and vision, loyal to the standards this great school has represented for many years. May you all serve faithfully, neither as slaves to the past nor as those parvenus who preach originality for its own sake, which attitude is only ignorant vanity. May you all have many rich, active years before you and leave, as you depart from this world, your mark on the sands of time!"

Guy Francon ended with a flourish, raising his right arm in a sweeping salute; informal, but with an air, that gay, swaggering air which Guy Francon could always permit himself. The huge hall before him came to life in applause and approval.

A sea of faces, young, perspiring and eager, had been raised solemnly — for forty-five minutes — to the platform where Guy Francon had held forth as the speaker at the commencement exercises of the Stanton Institute of Technology, Guy Francon who had brought his own person from New York for the occasion; Guy Francon, of the illustrious firm of Francon & Heyer, vice-president of the Architects' Guild of America, member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, member of the National Fine Arts Commission, Secretary of the Arts and Crafts League of New York, chairman of the Society for Architectural Enlightenment of the U.S.A.; Guy Francon, knight of the Legion of Honor of France, decorated by the governments of Great Britain, Belgium, Monaco and Siam; Guy Francon, Stanton's greatest alumnus, who had designed the famous Frink National Bank Building of New York City, on the top of which, twenty-five floors above the pavements, there burned in a miniature replica of the Hadrian Mausoleum a wind-blown torch made of glass and the best General Electric bulbs.

Guy Francon descended from the platform, fully conscious of his timing and movements. He was of medium height and not too heavy, with just an unfortunate tendency to stoutness. Nobody, he knew, would give him his real age, which was fifty-one. His face bore not a wrinkle nor a single straight line; it was an artful composition in globes, circles, arcs and ellipses, with bright little eyes twinkling wittily. His clothes displayed an artist's infinite attention to details. He wished, as he descended the steps, that this were a co-educational school.

The hall before him, he thought, was a splendid specimen of architecture, made a bit stuffy today by the crowd and by the neglected problem of ventilation. But it boasted green marble dados, Corinthian columns of cast iron painted gold, and garlands of gilded fruit on the walls; the pineapples particularly, thought Guy Francon, had stood the test of years very well. It is, thought Guy Francon, touching; it was I who built this annex and this very hall, twenty years ago; and here I am.

The hall was packed with bodies and faces, so tightly that one could not distinguish at a glance which faces belonged to which bodies. It was like a soft, shivering aspic made of mixed arms, shoulders, chests and stomachs. One of the heads, pale, dark haired and beautiful, belonged to Peter Keating.

He sat, well in front, trying to keep his eyes on the platform, because he knew that many people were looking at him and would look at him later. He did not glance back, but the consciousness of those centered glances never left him. His eyes were dark, alert, intelligent. His mouth, a small upturned crescent faultlessly traced, was gentle and generous, and warm with the faint promise of a smile. His head had a certain classical perfection in the shape of the skull, in the natural wave of black ringlets about finely hollowed temples. He held his head in the manner of one who takes his beauty for granted, but knows that others do not. He was Peter Keating, star student of Stanton, president of the student body, captain of the track team, member of the most important fraternity, voted the most popular man on the campus.

The crowd was there, thought Peter Keating, to see him graduate,and he tried to estimate the capacity of the hall. They knew of his scholastic record and no one would beat his record today. Oh, well, there was Shlinker. Shlinker had given him stiff competition, but he had beaten Shlinker this last year. He had worked like a dog, because he had wanted to beat Shlinker. He had no rivals today....Then he felt suddenly as if something had fallen down, inside his throat, to his stomach, something cold and empty, a blank hole rolling down and leaving that feeling on its way: not a thought, just the hint of a question asking him whether he was really as great as this day would proclaim him to be. He looked for Shlinker in the crowd; he saw his yellow face and gold-rimmed glasses. He stared at Shlinker warmly, in relief, in reassurance, in gratitude. It was obvious that Shlinker could never hope to equal his own appearance or ability; he had nothing to doubt; he would always beat Shlinker and all the Shlinkers of the world; he would let no one achieve what he could not achieve. Let them all watch him. He would give them good reason to stare. He felt the hot breaths about him and the expectation, like a tonic. It was wonderful, thought Peter Keating, to be alive.

His head was beginning to reel a little. It was a pleasant feeling. The feeling carried him, unresisting and unremembering, to the platform in front of all those faces. He stood — slender, trim, athletic — and let the deluge break upon his head. He gathered from its roar that he had graduated with honors, that the Architects' Guild of America had presented him with a gold medal and that he had been awarded the Prix de Paris by the Society for Architectural Enlightenment of the U.S.A. — a four-year scholarship at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.

Then he was shaking hands, scratching the perspiration off his face with the end of a rolled parchment, nodding, smiling, suffocating in his black gown and hoping that people would not notice his mother sobbing with her arms about him. The President of the Institute shook his hand, booming: "Stanton will be proud of you, my boy." The Dean shook his hand, repeating: "...a glorious future...a glorious future...a glorious future..." Professor Peterkin shook his hand, and patted his shoulder, saying: "...and you'll find it absolutely essential; for example, I had the experience when I built the Peabody Post Office..." Keating did not listen to the rest, because he had heard the story of the Peabody Post Office many times. It was the only structure anyone had ever known Professor Peterkin to have erected, before he sacrificed his practice to the responsibilities of teaching. A great deal was said about Keating's final project — a Palace of Fine Arts. For the life of him, Keating could not remember at the moment what that project was.

Through all this, his eyes held the vision of Guy Francon shaking his hand, and his ears held the sounds of Francon's mellow voice: "...as I have told you, it is still open, my boy. Of course, now that you have this scholarship...you will have to decide...a Beaux-Arts diploma is very important to a young man...but I should be delighted to have you in our office...."

The banquet of the class of '22 was long and solemn. Keating listened to the speeches with interest; when he heard the endless sentences about "young men as the hope of American Architecture" and "the future opening its golden gates," he knew that he was the hope and his was the future, and it was pleasant to hear this confirmation from so many eminent lips. He looked at the gray-haired orators and thought of how much younger he would be when he reached their positions, theirs and beyond them.

Then he thought suddenly of Howard Roark. He was surprised to find that the flash of that name in his memory gave him a sharp little twinge of pleasure, before he could know why. Then then he remembered: Howard Roark had been expelled this morning. He reproached himself silently; he made a determined effort to feel sorry. But the secret glow came back, whenever he thought of that expulsion. The event proved conclusively that he had been a fool to imagine Roark a dangerous rival; at one time, he had worried about Roark more than about Shlinker, even though Roark was two years younger and one class below him. If he had ever entertained any doubts on their respective gifts, hadn't this day settled it all? And, he remembered, Roark had been very nice to him, helping him whenever he was stuck on a problem...not stuck, really, just did not have the time to think it out, a plan or something. Christ! how Roark could untangle a plan, like pulling a string and it was open...well, what if he could? What did it get him? He was done for now. And knowing this, Peter Keating experienced at last a satisfying pang of sympathy for Howard Roark.

When Keating was called upon to speak, he rose confidently. He could not show that he was terrified. He had nothing to say about architecture. But he spoke, his head high, as an equal among equals, just subtly diffident, so that no great name present could take offense. He remembered saying: "Architecture is a great art...with our eyes to the future and the reverence of the past in our hearts...of all the crafts, the most important one sociologically...and, as the man who is an inspiration to us all has said today, the three eternal entities are: Truth, Love and Beauty...."

Then, in the corridors outside, in the noisy confusion of leave-taking, a boy had thrown an arm about Keating's shoulders and whispered: "Run on home and get out of the soup-and-fish, Pete, and it's Boston for us tonight, just our own gang; I'll pick you up in an hour." Ted Shlinker had urged: "Of course you're coming, Pete. No fun without you. And, by the way, congratulations and all that sort of thing. No hard feelings. May the best man win." Keating had thrown his arm about Shlinker's shoulders; Keating's eyes had glowed with an insistent kind of warmth, as if Shlinker were his most precious friend; Keating's eyes glowed like that on everybody. He had said: "Thanks, Ted, old man. I really do feel awful about that A.G.A. medal — I think you were the one for it, but you never can tell what possesses those old fogies." And now Keating was on his way home through the soft darkness, wondering how to get away from his mother for the night.

His mother, he thought, had done a great deal for him. As she pointed out frequently, she was a lady and had graduated from high school; yet she had worked hard, had taken boarders into their home, a concession unprecedented in her family.

His father had owned a stationery store in Stanton. Changing times had ended the business and a hernia had ended Peter Keating, Sr., twelve years ago. Louisa Keating had been left with the home that stood at the end of a respectable street, an annuity from an insurance kept up accurately — she had seen to that — and her son. The annuity was a modest one, but with the help of the boarders and of a tenacious purpose Mrs. Keating had managed. In the summers her son helped, clerking in hotels or posing for hat advertisements. Her son, Mrs. Keating had decided, would assume his rightful place in the world, and she had clung to this as softly, as inexorably as a leech....It's funny, Keating remembered, at one time he had wanted to be an artist. It was his mother who had chosen a better field in which to exercise his talent for drawing. "Architecture," she had said, "is such a respectable profession. Besides, you meet the best people in it." She had pushed him into his career, he had never known when or how. It's funny, thought Keating, he had not remembered that youthful ambition of his for years. It's funny that it should hurt him now — to remember. Well, this was the night to remember it — and to forget it forever.

Architects, he thought, always made brilliant careers. And once on top, did they ever fail? Suddenly, he recalled Henry Cameron; builder of skyscrapers twenty years ago; old drunkard with offices on some waterfront today. Keating shuddered and walked faster.

He wondered,as he walked, whether people were looking at him. He watched the rectangles of lighted windows; when a curtain fluttered and a head leaned out, he tried to guess whether it had leaned to watch his passing; if it hadn't, some day it would; some day, they all would.

Howard Roark was sitting on the porch steps when Keating approached the house. He was leaning back against the steps, propped up on his elbows, his long legs stretched out. A morning-glory climbed over the porch pillars, as a curtain between the house and the light of a lamppost on the corner.

It was strange to see an electric globe in the air of a spring night. It made the street darker and softer; it hung alone, like a gap, and left nothing to be seen but a few branches heavy with leaves, standing still at the gap's edges. The small hint became immense, as if the darkness held nothing but a flood of leaves. The mechanical ball of glass made the leaves seem more living; it took away their color and gave the promise that in daylight they would be a brighter green than had ever existed; it took away one's sight and left a new sense instead, neither smell nor touch, yet both, a sense of spring and space.

Keating stopped when he recognized the preposterous orange hair in the darkness of the porch. It was the one person whom he had wanted to see tonight. He was glad to find Roark alone, and a little afraid of it.

"Congratulations, Peter," said Roark.

"Oh...Oh, thanks...." Keating was surprised to find that he felt more pleasure than from any other compliment he had received today. He was timidly glad that Roark approved, and he called himself inwardly a fool for it. "...I mean...do you know or..." He added sharply: "Has mother been telling you?"

"She has."

"She shouldn't have!"

"Why not?"

"Look, Howard, you know that I'm terribly sorry about your being..."

Roark threw his head back and looked up at him.

"Forget it," said Roark.

"I...there's something I want to speak to you about, Howard, to ask your advice. Mind if I sit down?"

"What is it?"

Keating sat down on the steps beside him. There was no part that he could ever play in Roark's presence. Besides, he did not feel like playing a part now. He heard a leaf rustling in its fall to the earth; it was a thin, glassy, spring sound.

He knew, for the moment, that he felt affection for Roark; an affection that held pain, astonishment and helplessness.

"You won't think," said Keating gently, in complete sincerity, "that it's awful of me to be asking about my business, when you've just been...?"

"I said forget about that. What is it?"

"You know," said Keating honestly and unexpectedly even to himself, "I've often thought that you're crazy. But I know that you know many things about it — architecture, I mean — which those fools never knew. And I know that you love it as they never will."

"Well?"

"Well, I don't know why I should come to you, but — Howard, I've never said it before, but you see, I'd rather have your opinion on things than the Dean's — I'd probably follow the Dean's, but it's just that yours means more to me myself, I don't know why. I don't know why I'm saying this, either."

Roark turned over on his side, looked at him, and laughed. It was a young, kind, friendly laughter, a thing so rare to hear from Roark that Keating felt as if someone had taken his hand in reassurance; and he forgot that he had a party in Boston waiting for him.

"Come on," said Roark, "you're not being afraid of me, are you? What do you want to ask about?"

"It's about my scholarship. The Paris prize I got."

"Yes?"

"It's for four years. But, on the other hand, Guy Francon offered me a job with him some time ago. Today he said it's still open. And I don't know which to take."

Roark looked at him; Roark's fingers moved in slow rotation, beating against the steps.

"If you want my advice, Peter," he said at last, "you've made a mistake already. By asking me. By asking anyone. Never ask people. Not about your work. Don't you know what you want? How can you stand it, not to know?"

"You see, that's what I admire about you, Howard. You always know."

"Drop the compliments."

"But I mean it. How do you always manage to decide?"

"How can you let others decide for you?"

"But you see, I'm not sure, Howard. I'm never sure of myself. I don't know whether I'm as good as they all tell me I am. I wouldn't admit that to anyone but you. I think it's because you're always so sure that I..."

"Petey!" Mrs. Keating's voice exploded behind them. "Petey, sweetheart! What are you doing there?"

She stood in the doorway, in her best dress of burgundy taffeta, happy and angry.

"And here I've been sitting all alone, waiting for you! What on earth are you doing on those filthy steps in your dress suit? Get up this minute! Come on in the house, boys. I've got hot chocolate and cookies ready for you."

"But, Mother, I wanted to speak to Howard about something important," said Keating. But he rose to his feet.

She seemed not to have heard. She walked into the house. Keating followed.

Roark looked after them, shrugged, rose and went in also.

Mrs. Keating settled down in an armchair, her stiff skirt crackling.

"Well?" she asked. "What were you two discussing out there?"

Keating fingered an ash tray, picked up a matchbox and dropped it, then, ignoring her, turned to Roark.

"Look, Howard, drop the pose," he said, his voice high. "Shall I junk the scholarship and go to work, or let Francon wait and grab the Beaux-Arts to impress the yokels? What do you think?"

Something was gone. The one moment was lost.

"Now, Petey, let me get this straight..." began Mrs. Keating.

"Oh, wait a minute, Mother!...Howard, I've got to weigh it carefully. It isn't everyone who can get a scholarship like that. You're pretty good when you rate that. A course at the Beaux Arts — you know how important that is."

"I don't," said Roark.

"Oh, hell, I know your crazy ideas, but I'm speaking practically, for a man in my position. Ideals aside for a moment, it certainly is..."

"You don't want my advice," said Roark.

"Of course I do! I'm asking you!"

But Keating could never be the same when he had an audience, any audience. Something was gone. He did not know it, but he felt that Roark knew; Roark's eyes made him uncomfortable and that made him angry.

"I want to practice architecture," snapped Keating, "not talk about it! Gives you a great prestige — the old Ecole. Puts you above the rank and file of the ex-plumbers who think they can build. On the other hand, an opening with Francon — Guy Francon himself offering it!"

Roark turned away.

"How many boys will match that?" Keating went on blindly. "A year from now they'll be boasting they're working for Smith or Jones if they find work at all. While I'll be with Francon & Heyer!"

"You're quite right, Peter," said Mrs. Keating, rising. "On a question like that you don't want to consult your mother. It's too important. I'll leave you to settle it with Mr. Roark."

He looked at his mother. He did not want to hear what she thought of this; he knew that his only chance to decide was to make the decision before he heard her; she had stopped, looking at him, ready to turn and leave the room; he knew it was not a pose — she would leave if he wished it; he wanted her to go; he wanted it desperately. He said:

"Why, Mother, how can you say that? Of course I want your opinion. What...what do you think?"

She ignored the raw irritation in his voice. She smiled.

"Petey, I never think anything. It's up to you. It's always been up to you."

"Well..." he began hesitantly, watching her, "if I go to the Beaux-Arts..."

"Fine," said Mrs. Keating, "go to the Beaux-Arts. It's a grand place. A whole ocean away from your home. Of course, if you go, Mr. Francon will take somebody else. People will talk about that. Everybody knows that Mr. Francon picks out the best boy from Stanton every year for his office. I wonder how it'll look if some other boy gets the job? But I guess that doesn't matter."

"What...what will people say?"

"Nothing much, I guess. Only that the other boy was the best man of his class. I guess he'll take Shlinker."

"No!" he gulped furiously. "Not Shlinker!"

"Yes," she said sweetly. "Shlinker."

"But..."

"But why should you care what people will say? All you have to do is please yourself."

"And you think that Francon..."

"Why should I think of Mr. Francon? It's nothing to me."

"Mother, you want me to take the job with Francon?"

"I don't want anything, Petey. You're the boss."

He wondered whether he really liked his mother. But she was his mother and this fact was recognized by everybody as meaning automatically that he loved her, and so he took for granted that whatever he felt for her was love. He did not know whether there was any reason why he should respect her judgment. She was his mother; this was supposed to take the place of reasons.

"Yes, of course, Mother....But...Yes, I know, but...Howard?"

It was a plea for help. Roark was there, on a davenport in the corner, half lying, sprawled limply like a kitten. It had often astonished Keating; he had seen Roark moving with the soundless tension, the control, the precision of a cat; he had seen him relaxed, like a cat, in shapeless ease, as if his body held no single solid bone. Roark glanced up at him. He said:

"Peter, you know how I feel about either one of your opportunities. Take your choice of the lesser evil. What will you learn at the Beaux-Arts? Only more Renaissance palaces and operetta settings. They'll kill everything you might have in you. You do good work, once in a while, when somebody lets you. If you really want to learn, go to work. Francon is a bastard and a fool, but you will be building. It will prepare you for going on your own that much sooner."

"Even Mr. Roark can talk sense sometimes," said Mrs. Keating, "even if he does talk like a truck driver."

"Do you really think that I do good work?" Keating looked at him, as if his eyes still held the reflection of that one sentence — and nothing else mattered.

"Occasionally," said Roark. "Not often."

"Now that it's all settled..." began Mrs. Keating.

"I...I'll have to think it over, Mother."

"Now that it's all settled, how about the hot chocolate? I'll have it out to you in a jiffy!"

She smiled at her son, an innocent smile that declared her obedience and gratitude, and she rustled out of the room.

Keating paced nervously, stopped, lighted a cigarette, stood spitting the smoke out in short jerks, then looked at Roark.

"What are you going to do now, Howard?"

"I?"

"Very thoughtless of me, I know, going on like that about myself. Mother means well, but she drives me crazy....Well, to hell with that. What are you going to do?"

"I'm going to New York."

"Oh, swell. To get a job?"

"To get a job."

"In...in architecture?"

"In architecture, Peter."

"That's grand. I'm glad. Got any definite prospects?"

"I'm going to work for Henry Cameron."

"Oh, no, Howard!"

Roark smiled slowly, the corners of his mouth sharp, and said nothing.

"Oh, no, Howard!"

"Yes."

"But he's nothing, nobody any more! Oh, I know he has a name, but he's done for! He never gets any important buildings, hasn't had any for years! They say he's got a dump for an office. What kind of future will you get out of him? What will you learn?"

"Not much. Only how to build."

"For God's sake, you can't go on like that, deliberately ruining yourself! I thought...well, yes, I thought you'd learned something today!"

"I have."

"Look, Howard, if it's because you think that no one else will have you now, no one better, why, I'll help you. I'll work old Francon and I'll get connections and..."

"Thank you, Peter. But it won't be necessary. It's settled."

"What did he say?"

"Who?"

"Cameron."

"I've never met him."

Then a horn screamed outside. Keating remembered, started off to change his clothes, collided with his mother at the door and knocked a cup off her loaded tray.

"Petey!"

"Never mind, Mother!" He seized her elbows. "I'm in a hurry, sweet-heart. A little party with the boys — now, now, don't say anything — I won't be late and — look! We'll celebrate my going with Francon & Heyer!"

He kissed her impulsively, with the gay exuberance that made him irresistible at times, and flew out of the room, up the stairs. Mrs. Keating shook her head, flustered, reproving and happy.

In his room, while flinging his clothes in all directions, Keating thought suddenly of a wire he would send to New York. That particular subject had not been in his mind all day, but it came to him with a sense of desperate urgency; he wanted to send that wire now, at once. He scribbled it down on a piece of paper:

"Katie dearest coming New York job Francon love ever
"Peter"

That night Keating raced toward Boston, wedged in between two boys, the wind and the road whistling past him. And he thought that the world was opening to him now, like the darkness fleeing before the bobbing headlights. He was free. He was ready. In a few years — so very soon, for time did not exist in the speed of that car — his name would ring like a horn, ripping people out of sleep. He was ready to do great things, magnificent things, things unsurpassed in...in...oh, hell...in architecture.

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Table of Contents

Part 1 Peter Keating 3
Part 2 Ellsworth M. Toohey 203
Part 3 Gail Wynand 405
Part 4 Howard Roark 527
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First Chapter

Chapter 2 "...Architecture, my friends, is a great art based on two cosmic principles: Beauty and Utility. In a broader sense, these are but part of the three eternal entities: Truth, Love and Beauty. Truth -- to the traditions of our Art, Love -- for our fellow men whom we are to serve, Beauty -- ah, Beauty is a compelling goddess to all artists, be it in the shape of a lovely woman or a building....Hm....Yes....In conclusion, I should like to say to you, who are about to embark upon your careers in architecture, that you are now the custodians of a sacred heritage....Hm....Yes....So, go forth into the world, armed with the three eternal enti -- armed with courage and vision, loyal to the standards this great school has represented for many years. May you all serve faithfully, neither as slaves to the past nor as those parvenus who preach originality for its own sake, which attitude is only ignorant vanity. May you all have many rich, active years before you and leave, as you depart from this world, your mark on the sands of time!"

Guy Francon ended with a flourish, raising his right arm in a sweeping salute; informal, but with an air, that gay, swaggering air which Guy Francon could always permit himself. The huge hall before him came to life in applause and approval.

A sea of faces, young, perspiring and eager, had been raised solemnly -- for forty-five minutes -- to the platform where Guy Francon had held forth as the speaker at the commencement exercises of the Stanton Institute of Technology, Guy Francon who had brought his own person from New York for the occasion; Guy Francon, of the illustrious firm of Francon & Heyer, vice-president of the Architects' Guild of America, member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, member of the National Fine Arts Commission, Secretary of the Arts and Crafts League of New York, chairman of the Society for Architectural Enlightenment of the U.S.A.; Guy Francon, knight of the Legion of Honor of France, decorated by the governments of Great Britain, Belgium, Monaco and Siam; Guy Francon, Stanton's greatest alumnus, who had designed the famous Frink National Bank Building of New York City, on the top of which, twenty-five floors above the pavements, there burned in a miniature replica of the Hadrian Mausoleum a wind-blown torch made of glass and the best General Electric bulbs.

Guy Francon descended from the platform, fully conscious of his timing and movements. He was of medium height and not too heavy, with just an unfortunate tendency to stoutness. Nobody, he knew, would give him his real age, which was fifty-one. His face bore not a wrinkle nor a single straight line; it was an artful composition in globes, circles, arcs and ellipses, with bright little eyes twinkling wittily. His clothes displayed an artist's infinite attention to details. He wished, as he descended the steps, that this were a co-educational school.

The hall before him, he thought, was a splendid specimen of architecture, made a bit stuffy today by the crowd and by the neglected problem of ventilation. But it boasted green marble dados, Corinthian columns of cast iron painted gold, and garlands of gilded fruit on the walls; the pineapples particularly, thought Guy Francon, had stood the test of years very well. It is, thought Guy Francon, touching; it was I who built this annex and this very hall, twenty years ago; and here I am.

The hall was packed with bodies and faces, so tightly that one could not distinguish at a glance which faces belonged to which bodies. It was like a soft, shivering aspic made of mixed arms, shoulders, chests and stomachs. One of the heads, pale, dark haired and beautiful, belonged to Peter Keating.

He sat, well in front, trying to keep his eyes on the platform, because he knew that many people were looking at him and would look at him later. He did not glance back, but the consciousness of those centered glances never left him. His eyes were dark, alert, intelligent. His mouth, a small upturned crescent faultlessly traced, was gentle and generous, and warm with the faint promise of a smile. His head had a certain classical perfection in the shape of the skull, in the natural wave of black ringlets about finely hollowed temples. He held his head in the manner of one who takes his beauty for granted, but knows that others do not. He was Peter Keating, star student of Stanton, president of the student body, captain of the track team, member of the most important fraternity, voted the most popular man on the campus.

The crowd was there, thought Peter Keating, to see him graduate,and he tried to estimate the capacity of the hall. They knew of his scholastic record and no one would beat his record today. Oh, well, there was Shlinker. Shlinker had given him stiff competition, but he had beaten Shlinker this last year. He had worked like a dog, because he had wanted to beat Shlinker. He had no rivals today....Then he felt suddenly as if something had fallen down, inside his throat, to his stomach, something cold and empty, a blank hole rolling down and leaving that feeling on its way: not a thought, just the hint of a question asking him whether he was really as great as this day would proclaim him to be. He looked for Shlinker in the crowd; he saw his yellow face and gold-rimmed glasses. He stared at Shlinker warmly, in relief, in reassurance, in gratitude. It was obvious that Shlinker could never hope to equal his own appearance or ability; he had nothing to doubt; he would always beat Shlinker and all the Shlinkers of the world; he would let no one achieve what he could not achieve. Let them all watch him. He would give them good reason to stare. He felt the hot breaths about him and the expectation, like a tonic. It was wonderful, thought Peter Keating, to be alive.

His head was beginning to reel a little. It was a pleasant feeling. The feeling carried him, unresisting and unremembering, to the platform in front of all those faces. He stood -- slender, trim, athletic -- and let the deluge break upon his head. He gathered from its roar that he had graduated with honors, that the Architects' Guild of America had presented him with a gold medal and that he had been awarded the Prix de Paris by the Society for Architectural Enlightenment of the U.S.A. -- a four-year scholarship at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris.

Then he was shaking hands, scratching the perspiration off his face with the end of a rolled parchment, nodding, smiling, suffocating in his black gown and hoping that people would not notice his mother sobbing with her arms about him. The President of the Institute shook his hand, booming: "Stanton will be proud of you, my boy." The Dean shook his hand, repeating: "...a glorious future...a glorious future...a glorious future..." Professor Peterkin shook his hand, and patted his shoulder, saying: "...and you'll find it absolutely essential; for example, I had the experience when I built the Peabody Post Office..." Keating did not listen to the rest, because he had heard the story of the Peabody Post Office many times. It was the only structure anyone had ever known Professor Peterkin to have erected, before he sacrificed his practice to the responsibilities of teaching. A great deal was said about Keating's final project -- a Palace of Fine Arts. For the life of him, Keating could not remember at the moment what that project was.

Through all this, his eyes held the vision of Guy Francon shaking his hand, and his ears held the sounds of Francon's mellow voice: "...as I have told you, it is still open, my boy. Of course, now that you have this scholarship...you will have to decide...a Beaux-Arts diploma is very important to a young man...but I should be delighted to have you in our office...."

The banquet of the class of '22 was long and solemn. Keating listened to the speeches with interest; when he heard the endless sentences about "young men as the hope of American Architecture" and "the future opening its golden gates," he knew that he was the hope and his was the future, and it was pleasant to hear this confirmation from so many eminent lips. He looked at the gray-haired orators and thought of how much younger he would be when he reached their positions, theirs and beyond them.

Then he thought suddenly of Howard Roark. He was surprised to find that the flash of that name in his memory gave him a sharp little twinge of pleasure, before he could know why. Then then he remembered: Howard Roark had been expelled this morning. He reproached himself silently; he made a determined effort to feel sorry. But the secret glow came back, whenever he thought of that expulsion. The event proved conclusively that he had been a fool to imagine Roark a dangerous rival; at one time, he had worried about Roark more than about Shlinker, even though Roark was two years younger and one class below him. If he had ever entertained any doubts on their respective gifts, hadn't this day settled it all? And, he remembered, Roark had been very nice to him, helping him whenever he was stuck on a problem...not stuck, really, just did not have the time to think it out, a plan or something. Christ! how Roark could untangle a plan, like pulling a string and it was open...well, what if he could? What did it get him? He was done for now. And knowing this, Peter Keating experienced at last a satisfying pang of sympathy for Howard Roark.

When Keating was called upon to speak, he rose confidently. He could not show that he was terrified. He had nothing to say about architecture. But he spoke, his head high, as an equal among equals, just subtly diffident, so that no great name present could take offense. He remembered saying: "Architecture is a great art...with our eyes to the future and the reverence of the past in our hearts...of all the crafts, the most important one sociologically...and, as the man who is an inspiration to us all has said today, the three eternal entities are: Truth, Love and Beauty...."

Then, in the corridors outside, in the noisy confusion of leave-taking, a boy had thrown an arm about Keating's shoulders and whispered: "Run on home and get out of the soup-and-fish, Pete, and it's Boston for us tonight, just our own gang; I'll pick you up in an hour." Ted Shlinker had urged: "Of course you're coming, Pete. No fun without you. And, by the way, congratulations and all that sort of thing. No hard feelings. May the best man win." Keating had thrown his arm about Shlinker's shoulders; Keating's eyes had glowed with an insistent kind of warmth, as if Shlinker were his most precious friend; Keating's eyes glowed like that on everybody. He had said: "Thanks, Ted, old man. I really do feel awful about that A.G.A. medal -- I think you were the one for it, but you never can tell what possesses those old fogies." And now Keating was on his way home through the soft darkness, wondering how to get away from his mother for the night.

His mother, he thought, had done a great deal for him. As she pointed out frequently, she was a lady and had graduated from high school; yet she had worked hard, had taken boarders into their home, a concession unprecedented in her family.

His father had owned a stationery store in Stanton. Changing times had ended the business and a hernia had ended Peter Keating, Sr., twelve years ago. Louisa Keating had been left with the home that stood at the end of a respectable street, an annuity from an insurance kept up accurately -- she had seen to that -- and her son. The annuity was a modest one, but with the help of the boarders and of a tenacious purpose Mrs. Keating had managed. In the summers her son helped, clerking in hotels or posing for hat advertisements. Her son, Mrs. Keating had decided, would assume his rightful place in the world, and she had clung to this as softly, as inexorably as a leech....It's funny, Keating remembered, at one time he had wanted to be an artist. It was his mother who had chosen a better field in which to exercise his talent for drawing. "Architecture," she had said, "is such a respectable profession. Besides, you meet the best people in it." She had pushed him into his career, he had never known when or how. It's funny, thought Keating, he had not remembered that youthful ambition of his for years. It's funny that it should hurt him now -- to remember. Well, this was the night to remember it -- and to forget it forever.

Architects, he thought, always made brilliant careers. And once on top, did they ever fail? Suddenly, he recalled Henry Cameron; builder of skyscrapers twenty years ago; old drunkard with offices on some waterfront today. Keating shuddered and walked faster.

He wondered,as he walked, whether people were looking at him. He watched the rectangles of lighted windows; when a curtain fluttered and a head leaned out, he tried to guess whether it had leaned to watch his passing; if it hadn't, some day it would; some day, they all would.

Howard Roark was sitting on the porch steps when Keating approached the house. He was leaning back against the steps, propped up on his elbows, his long legs stretched out. A morning-glory climbed over the porch pillars, as a curtain between the house and the light of a lamppost on the corner.

It was strange to see an electric globe in the air of a spring night. It made the street darker and softer; it hung alone, like a gap, and left nothing to be seen but a few branches heavy with leaves, standing still at the gap's edges. The small hint became immense, as if the darkness held nothing but a flood of leaves. The mechanical ball of glass made the leaves seem more living; it took away their color and gave the promise that in daylight they would be a brighter green than had ever existed; it took away one's sight and left a new sense instead, neither smell nor touch, yet both, a sense of spring and space.

Keating stopped when he recognized the preposterous orange hair in the darkness of the porch. It was the one person whom he had wanted to see tonight. He was glad to find Roark alone, and a little afraid of it.

"Congratulations, Peter," said Roark.

"Oh...Oh, thanks...." Keating was surprised to find that he felt more pleasure than from any other compliment he had received today. He was timidly glad that Roark approved, and he called himself inwardly a fool for it. "...I mean...do you know or..." He added sharply: "Has mother been telling you?"

"She has."

"She shouldn't have!"

"Why not?"

"Look, Howard, you know that I'm terribly sorry about your being..."

Roark threw his head back and looked up at him.

"Forget it," said Roark.

"I...there's something I want to speak to you about, Howard, to ask your advice. Mind if I sit down?"

"What is it?"

Keating sat down on the steps beside him. There was no part that he could ever play in Roark's presence. Besides, he did not feel like playing a part now. He heard a leaf rustling in its fall to the earth; it was a thin, glassy, spring sound.

He knew, for the moment, that he felt affection for Roark; an affection that held pain, astonishment and helplessness.

"You won't think," said Keating gently, in complete sincerity, "that it's awful of me to be asking about my business, when you've just been...?"

"I said forget about that. What is it?"

"You know," said Keating honestly and unexpectedly even to himself, "I've often thought that you're crazy. But I know that you know many things about it -- architecture, I mean -- which those fools never knew. And I know that you love it as they never will."

"Well?"

"Well, I don't know why I should come to you, but -- Howard, I've never said it before, but you see, I'd rather have your opinion on things than the Dean's -- I'd probably follow the Dean's, but it's just that yours means more to me myself, I don't know why. I don't know why I'm saying this, either."

Roark turned over on his side, looked at him, and laughed. It was a young, kind, friendly laughter, a thing so rare to hear from Roark that Keating felt as if someone had taken his hand in reassurance; and he forgot that he had a party in Boston waiting for him.

"Come on," said Roark, "you're not being afraid of me, are you? What do you want to ask about?"

"It's about my scholarship. The Paris prize I got."

"Yes?"

"It's for four years. But, on the other hand, Guy Francon offered me a job with him some time ago. Today he said it's still open. And I don't know which to take."

Roark looked at him; Roark's fingers moved in slow rotation, beating against the steps.

"If you want my advice, Peter," he said at last, "you've made a mistake already. By asking me. By asking anyone. Never ask people. Not about your work. Don't you know what you want? How can you stand it, not to know?"

"You see, that's what I admire about you, Howard. You always know."

"Drop the compliments."

"But I mean it. How do you always manage to decide?"

"How can you let others decide for you?"

"But you see, I'm not sure, Howard. I'm never sure of myself. I don't know whether I'm as good as they all tell me I am. I wouldn't admit that to anyone but you. I think it's because you're always so sure that I..."

"Petey!" Mrs. Keating's voice exploded behind them. "Petey, sweetheart! What are you doing there?"

She stood in the doorway, in her best dress of burgundy taffeta, happy and angry.

"And here I've been sitting all alone, waiting for you! What on earth are you doing on those filthy steps in your dress suit? Get up this minute! Come on in the house, boys. I've got hot chocolate and cookies ready for you."

"But, Mother, I wanted to speak to Howard about something important," said Keating. But he rose to his feet.

She seemed not to have heard. She walked into the house. Keating followed.

Roark looked after them, shrugged, rose and went in also.

Mrs. Keating settled down in an armchair, her stiff skirt crackling.

"Well?" she asked. "What were you two discussing out there?"

Keating fingered an ash tray, picked up a matchbox and dropped it, then, ignoring her, turned to Roark.

"Look, Howard, drop the pose," he said, his voice high. "Shall I junk the scholarship and go to work, or let Francon wait and grab the Beaux-Arts to impress the yokels? What do you think?"

Something was gone. The one moment was lost.

"Now, Petey, let me get this straight..." began Mrs. Keating.

"Oh, wait a minute, Mother!...Howard, I've got to weigh it carefully. It isn't everyone who can get a scholarship like that. You're pretty good when you rate that. A course at the Beaux Arts -- you know how important that is."

"I don't," said Roark.

"Oh, hell, I know your crazy ideas, but I'm speaking practically, for a man in my position. Ideals aside for a moment, it certainly is..."

"You don't want my advice," said Roark.

"Of course I do! I'm asking you!"

But Keating could never be the same when he had an audience, any audience. Something was gone. He did not know it, but he felt that Roark knew; Roark's eyes made him uncomfortable and that made him angry.

"I want to practice architecture," snapped Keating, "not talk about it! Gives you a great prestige -- the old Ecole. Puts you above the rank and file of the ex-plumbers who think they can build. On the other hand, an opening with Francon -- Guy Francon himself offering it!"

Roark turned away.

"How many boys will match that?" Keating went on blindly. "A year from now they'll be boasting they're working for Smith or Jones if they find work at all. While I'll be with Francon & Heyer!"

"You're quite right, Peter," said Mrs. Keating, rising. "On a question like that you don't want to consult your mother. It's too important. I'll leave you to settle it with Mr. Roark."

He looked at his mother. He did not want to hear what she thought of this; he knew that his only chance to decide was to make the decision before he heard her; she had stopped, looking at him, ready to turn and leave the room; he knew it was not a pose -- she would leave if he wished it; he wanted her to go; he wanted it desperately. He said:

"Why, Mother, how can you say that? Of course I want your opinion. What...what do you think?"

She ignored the raw irritation in his voice. She smiled.

"Petey, I never think anything. It's up to you. It's always been up to you."

"Well..." he began hesitantly, watching her, "if I go to the Beaux-Arts..."

"Fine," said Mrs. Keating, "go to the Beaux-Arts. It's a grand place. A whole ocean away from your home. Of course, if you go, Mr. Francon will take somebody else. People will talk about that. Everybody knows that Mr. Francon picks out the best boy from Stanton every year for his office. I wonder how it'll look if some other boy gets the job? But I guess that doesn't matter."

"What...what will people say?"

"Nothing much, I guess. Only that the other boy was the best man of his class. I guess he'll take Shlinker."

"No!" he gulped furiously. "Not Shlinker!"

"Yes," she said sweetly. "Shlinker."

"But..."

"But why should you care what people will say? All you have to do is please yourself."

"And you think that Francon..."

"Why should I think of Mr. Francon? It's nothing to me."

"Mother, you want me to take the job with Francon?"

"I don't want anything, Petey. You're the boss."

He wondered whether he really liked his mother. But she was his mother and this fact was recognized by everybody as meaning automatically that he loved her, and so he took for granted that whatever he felt for her was love. He did not know whether there was any reason why he should respect her judgment. She was his mother; this was supposed to take the place of reasons.

"Yes, of course, Mother....But...Yes, I know, but...Howard?"

It was a plea for help. Roark was there, on a davenport in the corner, half lying, sprawled limply like a kitten. It had often astonished Keating; he had seen Roark moving with the soundless tension, the control, the precision of a cat; he had seen him relaxed, like a cat, in shapeless ease, as if his body held no single solid bone. Roark glanced up at him. He said:

"Peter, you know how I feel about either one of your opportunities. Take your choice of the lesser evil. What will you learn at the Beaux-Arts? Only more Renaissance palaces and operetta settings. They'll kill everything you might have in you. You do good work, once in a while, when somebody lets you. If you really want to learn, go to work. Francon is a bastard and a fool, but you will be building. It will prepare you for going on your own that much sooner."

"Even Mr. Roark can talk sense sometimes," said Mrs. Keating, "even if he does talk like a truck driver."

"Do you really think that I do good work?" Keating looked at him, as if his eyes still held the reflection of that one sentence -- and nothing else mattered.

"Occasionally," said Roark. "Not often."

"Now that it's all settled..." began Mrs. Keating.

"I...I'll have to think it over, Mother."

"Now that it's all settled, how about the hot chocolate? I'll have it out to you in a jiffy!"

She smiled at her son, an innocent smile that declared her obedience and gratitude, and she rustled out of the room.

Keating paced nervously, stopped, lighted a cigarette, stood spitting the smoke out in short jerks, then looked at Roark.

"What are you going to do now, Howard?"

"I?"

"Very thoughtless of me, I know, going on like that about myself. Mother means well, but she drives me crazy....Well, to hell with that. What are you going to do?"

"I'm going to New York."

"Oh, swell. To get a job?"

"To get a job."

"In...in architecture?"

"In architecture, Peter."

"That's grand. I'm glad. Got any definite prospects?"

"I'm going to work for Henry Cameron."

"Oh, no, Howard!"

Roark smiled slowly, the corners of his mouth sharp, and said nothing.

"Oh, no, Howard!"

"Yes."

"But he's nothing, nobody any more! Oh, I know he has a name, but he's done for! He never gets any important buildings, hasn't had any for years! They say he's got a dump for an office. What kind of future will you get out of him? What will you learn?"

"Not much. Only how to build."

"For God's sake, you can't go on like that, deliberately ruining yourself! I thought...well, yes, I thought you'd learned something today!"

"I have."

"Look, Howard, if it's because you think that no one else will have you now, no one better, why, I'll help you. I'll work old Francon and I'll get connections and..."

"Thank you, Peter. But it won't be necessary. It's settled."

"What did he say?"

"Who?"

"Cameron."

"I've never met him."

Then a horn screamed outside. Keating remembered, started off to change his clothes, collided with his mother at the door and knocked a cup off her loaded tray.

"Petey!"

"Never mind, Mother!" He seized her elbows. "I'm in a hurry, sweet-heart. A little party with the boys -- now, now, don't say anything -- I won't be late and -- look! We'll celebrate my going with Francon & Heyer!"

He kissed her impulsively, with the gay exuberance that made him irresistible at times, and flew out of the room, up the stairs. Mrs. Keating shook her head, flustered, reproving and happy.

In his room, while flinging his clothes in all directions, Keating thought suddenly of a wire he would send to New York. That particular subject had not been in his mind all day, but it came to him with a sense of desperate urgency; he wanted to send that wire now, at once. He scribbled it down on a piece of paper:

"Katie dearest coming New York job Francon love ever
"Peter"

That night Keating raced toward Boston, wedged in between two boys, the wind and the road whistling past him. And he thought that the world was opening to him now, like the darkness fleeing before the bobbing headlights. He was free. He was ready. In a few years -- so very soon, for time did not exist in the speed of that car -- his name would ring like a horn, ripping people out of sleep. He was ready to do great things, magnificent things, things unsurpassed in...in...oh, hell...in architecture.

Copyright © 1943 by The Bobbs-Merrill Company

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  • Posted October 27, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    The Fountainhead

    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.¿<BR/><BR/>This book is NOT about architecture.<BR/><BR/>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.<BR/><BR/>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.<BR/><BR/>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.<BR/><BR/>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.<BR/><BR/>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.

    19 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 4, 2011

    Fantastic Story

    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.

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 20, 2009

    A classic

    There not enough words to praise this book...a masterpeice. A must read.

    9 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2010

    Perfection

    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.

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    THIS BOOK IS AMAZING

    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!

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 20, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A story with a message that carries across the decades

    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.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 24, 2009

    Not sure what all the fuss is about...

    I know that people generally love this book but I could not get through it. I read about 100 pages and was too disgusted with the characters to go on. The protagonist(s) has no redeeming qualities whatsoever and I really didn't encounter a single character I could relate to, much less appreciate. I found the plot dry and slow. I know I may be alone in this, but I found this book to be a huge disappointment.

    4 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2008

    The Fountainhead

    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.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 27, 2011

    overpriced

    Overpriced

    3 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 23, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    ...

    I love what Ayn Rand was about. This book, though, was a prelude in many ways to what I consider to be her more important book, Atlas Shrugged.

    3 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 2, 2011

    This is an excellent book - timeless

    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.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Integrity above all

    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.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 3, 2009

    The Fountainhead

    While I enjoyed Atlas Shrugged very much, The Fountainhead was disappointing. The book was well written, however the two main characters were psychopaths. Rourk and Dominique were sick individuals. It was disturbing to read how they both enjoyed the power and brutality of rape and found it sexual and fulfilling.

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2008

    This Book Changed My Life

    By far the best, most-inspiring piece of literature that I've ever read...it's only equal is Atlas Shrugged 'also by Ayn Rand'. The Fountainhead makes an excellent introduction to the objectivist way of thought. It is profoundly moving and thought-provoking and causes a reader to question their own decision-making process.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 18, 2011

    Price

    I thought the classics were supposed to be the most affordable books for the Nook. Why are all of them so expensive? This is very disappointing.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 17, 2011

    rate the book

    rate the book, not the price. this is perhaps the 2nd best book ever written but thanks to everyone upset about the price it has a horrible rating.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 8, 2011

    over priced

    19.99 is extremely over priced for an ebook.

    1 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 22, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    A must read!

    From beginnining to end constant stimulation,a real will justice ever be served.

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 16, 2004

    Philosphy for the Ignorant

    While the philosphy laced througout the novel sounds very good on paper, their application in real life would be a complete failure. The main character, Howard Roark, is supposed to inspire us all to create original work and to be our own person. However, as a real person he would be a social failure, much as he was in the book. I found it almost funny that he suggests that the only work that is worth anything is that which is done independently and without any hints from the past. I wonder how our medical profession would have responded to this philosophy.

    1 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2014

    What Makes Greatness Possible?

    Ayn's portrayal of the heroic and the best within a man through a gripping plot with a logical and brilliant premise of what makes greatness possible had struck me with the force of a lightning bolt when I'd read it first in the spring of 1972 at the age of 15. It is the reason I chose to move to and adopt the USA as my motherland in 1983. I'm reading this timeless novel again at the age of 57 and am experiencing a sense of joy and exaltation at being alive. Thank you Ayn for sharing your discovery and your sense of life.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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