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
"...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 shouldn't have!"
"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, 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."
"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 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?"
"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 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!"
"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!"
"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?"
"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.
"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
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.
Excerpted from "The Fountainhead"
Copyright © 1994 Ayn Rand.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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!