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
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|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.70(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
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.