The Fountainhead (Centennial Edition Hardcover)
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A special edition hardcover in celebration of Ayn Rand¡¯s centennial.

When it was first published in 1943, The Fountainhead--containing Ayn Rand¡¯s daringly original literary vision with the seeds of her groundbreaking philosophy, Objectivism¡ªwon immediate worldwide acclaim. This instant classic is the story of an intransigent young architect, his violent battle against conventional standards, and his explosive love affair with a beautiful woman who struggles to defeat him. This centennial edition of The Fountainhead, celebrating the controversial and eduring legacy of its author, features an afterword by Rand¡¯s literary executor, Leonard Peikoff, offering some of Ayn Rand¡¯s personal notes on the development of her masterwork.

The Fountainhead has become an enduring piece of literature, more popular now than when published in 1943. On the surface, it is a story of one man, Howard Roark, and his struggles as an architect in the face of a successful rival, Peter Keating, and a newspaper columnist, Ellsworth Toohey. But the book addresses a number of universal themes: the strength of the individual, the tug between good and evil, the threat of fascism. The confrontation of those themes, along with the amazing stroke of Rand's writing, combine to give this book its enduring influence.

Customer Reviews:

  • Read it just because its Ayn Rand
    Sorry, that's all I can say about it. Read it so long ago, don't remember a thing about it. I'm sure its buried in my subconscious somewhere....more info
  • packaging
    As an Art Gallery owner I have chosen to keep the padded envelope as a future art/exhibit product.
    Exquisite addresses and stamps denoting the loving and creative care of the sender/supplier and the art of our postal system that may still have some meaning to continue to exist....more info
  • The Fountainhead
    Various things are exaggerated in the book, but yet it manages to articulate those inarticulate views on e.g. individualism and collectivism that I've had for many years and was sometimes critized for. This is one the reasons why I found the book to be worthwhile. Roark is also inspiring, and the plot is intriguing....more info
  • Ayn Rand, The Fountain Head
    Very old book but true to the day on how mas media can make or break (shape) public opinion....more info
  • A Black and White Classic
    I read the Fountainhead for the first time 20 years ago after graduating from College. It was the most memorable and thought-provoking literary experience of my life and had a profound impact on my views of the world at the time. Within weeks of finishing The Fountainhead, I read Atlas Shrugged and was further captivated by the Randian philosophies of objectivism and individualism.

    For the past 20 years, I have retained much of what I learned from those books, but have also acquired 20 years of real-world adulthood and experience. With that backdrop, I recently decided that it was time to go back and reread the Fountainhead. I was curious whether the messages conveyed to a 21 year old graduate would still carry the same impact and resonance.

    I picked up the book 5 days ago and finished it last night. I was once again enraptured by the story and simply couldn't put the book down to go to sleep any night this week. The characters and dialog were still fascinating and entertaining and I was pleased that certain tenets of the Randian philosophy stayed true with me after all these years. That being said, with an adult's perspective, I also found the characters to be completely implausible and their relationships with each other to be borderline silly. While the dialogs were captivating, they weren't real. Whether it was Rourke and Wynand expounding on the yacht or Toohey spending 3 pages in a long-winded diatribe with Keating toward the end of the novel, there were simply too many instances where Rand unabashedly uses conversation to spout her philosophy with total disregard for how people actually converse with each other. Thus I had more of a sense this time around that The Fountainhead was a philosophy textbook disguised as a novel.

    The main thing that struck me this time around was that Rand can't seem to find a middle-ground with her characters . . . and this again makes them unreal. When I was 21, I misguidedly believed that adults could actually be as Rand describes. What did I know? Now I view these characters as unnaturally extreme, rigid and one and two dimensional. They are nothing more than cardboard representations of certain ideals, caricatured to the nth degree. Roark and Toohey are not real men . . . they are Randian fantasy creatures. For entertainment purposes, I enjoyed being reacquainted with them, but I have no illusions that they are based on actual human beings. Dominique. Puh-lease. Her storyline is so absurd that I could only laugh my way through it. Wynand . . . I'm still not sure what to make of him and I still don't really understand what Roark would see in a friendship with Wynand. Whatever.

    Long story short, with a grain of salt and a suspension of disbelief, this is still an entertaining and educational novel. Despite the extremes, there is much to be learned and applied from the Randian ideals: strive to achieve and excel, think for yourself, exist for yourself not for others or for some imaginary higher power, don't be dependent upon others, hold sacred and don't compromise your integrity, stick to your convictions.


    ...more info
  • Incredible Book! Great Surprise!
    I decided to listen to this book (on audio recording) after listening to the Author's previous title: Atlas Shrugged.

    I thought that the story was even more interesting than her previous title, and I enjoyed the entire 8 hour car ride from Georgia to Michigan. It ended up having a very similar theme to Atlas Shrugged, but this theme was very well hidden up until the ending, and I thought that the book was definitely more effective than her incredible title: Atlas Shrugged. I enjoyed listening to this book, and will now definitely buy it and read it on my own.

    You will find the characters incredible and likeable. I enjoyed getting to know them throughout the script, and look forward to seeing them again in print.

    Enjoy this book! It is well worth your time!...more info
  • The Architecture of Man
    It is difficult to summarize what "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand is about. The simplest explanation is that it is about an architect named Howard Roark who saw the world very differently than others did and the people who are intent upon destroying him. But simplifying the premise down to that sentence does Ayn Rand an injustice. For "The Fountainhead" is an examination of society and individualism and it touches on themes that greatly exceed the reach of its characters.

    The readers are first introduced to Howard Roark on the day he is expelled from Stanton Institute of Technology for refusing to conform to their expectations of architecture. For Roark believes that buildings should be built based on personality and purposes, as well as from the land that surrounds it. His ideas are revolutionary in an era when architects were expected to draw upon all the preceeding styles to build their own greatness. Roark's struggle to establish himself as a worthy architect who should be allowed to build things his own way is contrasted with the meteoric rise of Peter Keating, whom Roark had boarded with during college. Keating conforms to every expectation, becomes wealthy and famous, but knows that he will never measure up to Howard Roark and will always be a mediocre architect.

    As the world slowly begins to accept the idea of modernism in architecture, Roark becomes a major league player in the building business, a rise that several people try to destroy. Dominique Francon, the woman who loves Roark but cannot choose him, sets out to destroy his prospects by winning jobs for Peter Keating, among other attempts to hurt him. But the real threat lies with Ellsworth Toohey, a philanthropist and self-fashioned expert on architecture who writes a column in the most popular newspaper of the day. He recognizes Roark's genius but knows that it goes against every grain of information he has brainwashed his readers into believing, so he does all in his power to conserve his anonymity and bring him disgrace. Yet in spite of all these obstacles, Roark continues to fight for what he knows to be his personal truth, no matter what losses and battles get thrown his way.

    "The Fountainhead" by Ayn Rand is an intriguing read, but definitely not one that is fast-paced. At times, the storytelling seems deliberately slow; in an attempt to discuss society within the novel, Rand had to introduce great portions of that society which sometimes distracts from the novel on the whole. Even if one is not a fan of Rand's philosophy and her beliefs, one can definitely appreciate her thoughts about the struggle between an individual and society. ...more info
  • OBJECTIVISM 101: Live for yourself, not through others.
    This book is not a joy to read. It isn't fun, happy, or uplifting. Indeed, most of it is oppressively dark and disturbing. It is however, masterfully written and very rewarding. Not as captivating or inspiring as Atlas Shrugged, this book still ranks as one of my all time favorites. Definitely recommended to anyone and everyone.

    THE FOUNTAINHEAD follows a central cast of extremely memorable (but not generally likeable) characters through a story that's main purpose is to highlight and demonstrate Ayn Rand's Objectivist philosophies. All of the characters represent extreme personalities (and are thus rather one-dimensional). The self-confidant, unreliant, productive man (Howard Roark) battles the worst of society's altruistic and self-sacrificing demands. The socialist progressive movement is the enemy, excusing weakness, stupidity, and laziness; while demagoguing production, achievement, and individualism. This book actually provides a mastermind antagonist in Ellsworth Toohey that knowingly strives for the downfall of civilization by promoting liberalism, and is one of the most intriguing, but unlikely, characters in Rand's novels. Dominique Francon, Peter Keating, and Gail Wynand all contribute to make this story truly unforgettable.

    IMO, Rand is one of the most ill-represented and misunderstood philosophers of all time. Rather than being radical, I believe that she would fit right in with current day Libertarians. She was not heartless or without compassion, she just understood that living for yourself is the way to peace. She didn't dislike charities, she disliked the government forcing people to give up their property for the benefit of others. Paying welfare taxes does not equate to kindness or charitable giving when it is done under coercion. Stating that no man has a right to others' property does not reflect selfishness, but an understanding of natural law.

    Rand was a huge believer in America, and its promise to the future. She wrote these books and developed her philosophies to combat what she saw as the liberalization of America and the world. Many of us today see and fear the same things even now. A couple of my favorite quotes demonstrating Rand's love of this country and nicely summarizing the theme of her two best books:

    ".. built on the principle of individualism. This, our country. The noblest country in the history of men. The country of greatest achievement, greatest prosperity, greatest freedom. This country was not based on selfless service, sacrifice, renunciation or any precept of altruism. It was based on man's right to the pursuit of happiness. His own happiness. Not anyone else's. A private, personal, selfish motive."
    -Howard Roark (The Fountainhead)

    ".. for the first time in history, a country of money - and I have no higher, more reverent tribute to pay to America, for this means: a country of reason, justice, freedom, production, achievement. For the first time, man's mind and money were set free, and there were no fortunes-by-conquest, but only fortunes-by-work, and instead of swordsmen and slaves, there appeared the real maker of wealth, the greatest worker, the highest type of human being - the self-made man - the American industrialist."
    -Francisco d'Anconia (Atlas Shrugged)...more info
  • Must read for all
    Almost as entertaining as Atlas Shrugged, but all of Ayn Rand's books should be required reading for all high school students....more info
  • Ellsworth is Alive and Well
    I read the Fountainhead in the Summer of 1961, when I was 22. I thought it was the best book I had ever read - until I read Atlas Shrugged. Even then, with no experience, I understood what Ayn Rand was writing about. Now, as I approach 70, I remember those reads as if I had them memorized, and here is my book report on the first.
    The Fountainhead is about the war waged by one, Ellsworth Toohey against the soul of the individual. Why he waged such a war, I have never been able to determine. No more have I been able to fathom the choice of crime over hard work. No more the choice of religious terrorism over religious tolerance. No more the atheism which is nothing without God. Better to be counted a Taliban who would NEVER bomb a statue or diminish a woman.
    Ellsworth is one of the great enigmas of literature. He would rather no progress than to have to produce anything that has calculable value to another. He would be the one who decides what the value is and who will posess the title. Ellsworth is a cheat, a liar, a prevaricator, a manipulator and, because he is all of that, and intelligent, he is Ayn Rand's example of the Great Progressive. His only decent characteristic is that he is not a politician. He is a carp by choice and by literary design.
    The Fountainhead is fiction, but be certain of one thing. Ellsworth is alive and still working as hard as ever. Sadly, most folks haven't got a clue about that. They don't see him everywhere the way I do. Well, here's the way you can see him as clearly as I. When you meet someone who justifies mediocrity in anything, look carefully, and you will see Ellsworth as himself or in drag. Once you get his message, you will understand and 'objectivise' his universal presence. Ayn Rand wrote about the ease with which the mass of non-geniuses, to which most of us belong, can be led to believe that those with ability are to be channeled into endeavors of value to us. We are led to be social workers rather than engineers by insuring that the least trouble with math during elementary school is an excuse to shunt someone to non-quantitative employment. The bright are separated, because we don't want them to be bored, but they are bored anyway. They do not even have the challenge to help their less able classmates, because they have been isolated in another track. Children are labeled by their academic performance in K-4. Parents lobby for quick advancement for THEIR offspring who are, naturally, the best and the brightest is neither in or for their best interests and futures. Everyone has to have the opportunity to be the best that s/he can be, so everyone goes unprepared. Ellsworth and mediocrity. Those who can analyze Ayn Rand by the power of her character constructs do NOT dare go near her philosophy. Her philosophy is the philosophy of clear, and brutal, honesty. She would rather that the education that has devolved so surely to the medi-ochre, be redesigned, instead, to teach all knowledge to students who may need to measure, divide or imagine, as well as they can learn, by the hands and minds of those who understand the fundamentals of what it is they now only pretend to teach. Of least concern in one's education should be what the teacher thinks. Rather, the measure of a good education is the degree to which a student learns to think with objectivity/clarity and individuality. Ayn Rand is bemoaning the progressive creation of the eternal, unthinking, mob. As fiction, it may have the weakness of too much crystallized truth. As fiction, the strength of The Fountainhead is that Ayn Rand captures us all in her stark characters. She has an agenda, and she presents it in a timeless manner. Why else are folks still calling her names and characterizing her nature rather than discussing her thesis? Her FICTION is not set in any past, nor any future. Her story is set in the now. It is always relevant in the NOW. No less so than when I was 22. If you want to discuss a theory of mine, try the following. There are more communists/socialists in Burbank, CA than in the whole of the Czeck Republic (past CR president) - US versions of the Taliban, too. Don't deny it unless you have evidence to the contrary, such as, are there more male or female mud wrestlers in the USA? And, how many of the Abu Graib miscreants were members of a religious group? My estimate is that most of them would ascribe to the doctrine of the Progressive; yet, in the way of the progressive, it was the political (religious) right that received the enmity of the mob. Even now, the progressive excuse for failure is "GW". Ellsworth is everywhere, and Ayn Rand was correct. We have a weakened system of governance, a weakened system of education and a weakened economic system. Current governance depends on the manipulation of the mob. Education creates the mob, and the bankers, the rich, and the religious are to blame for everything. The much more intelligent progressives will come to our rescue again. Oops! I suspect Ayn would strongly suggest that I either end or get back on point. So, my advice is buy it NOW, read it, and screw your head on properly as soon as possible! Best wishes to all, and "Hic Finis Est"!...more info
  • A Powerful, If One-Note Fictional Philosophy Treatise
    In my book, Ayn Rand still stands as one of the most powerful fictional writers capable of imbuing her work with philosophical ideals, and The Fountainhead is no let down. Yes, her characters can be a little one-sided, with unbending ideals they seem capable of upholding in the midst of the greatest strife. However, just being able to imagine and describe these kinds of intellectual pariahs and support their personas with such thorough background is a significant accomplishment.

    The only point at which this became unwieldy to me was during one of the final scenes, when court dialog is used as a thin disguise for Rand to rail on about her ideals through her protagonist and to tie some of the final plot knots. Normally, this would have been fine to me, except this diatribe goes on for quite a few pages. I considered lowering my rating to 4 stars in light of this grueling scene, but in the end, even this faux pas is excellently written and well-supported.

    Overall, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in the philosophy of self, individualism, and motivation. The only book in Rand's arsenal that tops this is Atlas Shrugged....more info
  • No redemption
    I had been curious about this book in particular and Ms. Rand's philosophy in general.
    Every character in this book is reprehensible.
    Not one major character has the slightest in redeeming values or value.
    No major character is noble in any sense of the word.
    The book is interesting and worth the time but if you are looking here for answers keep looking.
    PS
    The stilted 30's dialogue is laughable and ludicrous unless you keep in mind the context....more info
  • Can't stand Annie Rand
    Her philosophy doesn't make any sense to me. It's not logical and it's not human. Never have and never will. Peace out....more info
  • The Fountainhead
    The book that change my life. Everybody MUST read this book, especially excellent architects....more info
  • Vestigial Leftover from the Cold War era
    For the sake of clarity, I will separate this review into two parts that are often, in other reviews, confused, and need be distinguished to accurately review a work of "philosophical literature." The first part will review THE FOUNTAINHEAD as literature; the second, as philosophy.

    THE FOUNTAINHEAD as Literature:
    As literature, I cannot see much, if any, value to this novel. The plot is decent, though nothing to rave about as others do; for an explication of it I point you to the plot summary above. My biggest complaint with Rand's literature is her characters.
    Here, as elsewhere in her corpus of writings, characters serve merely as mouthpieces for philosophical ideals. Out with psychological realism, out with any sort of compelling, human elements--here we see "ideal men" who be either pinnacles of perfection, or paradigms of evil. Some proclaim the originality of this, but I can point out myriad cases in which other authors have attempted to create archetypes of various ideals; none of them are very compelling, despite being far better framed and in the hands of far more skilled writers than Rand.
    Take, for example, Alyosha from Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov. Dostoevsky is a phenomenal writer, yet even he could not save his "hero" from failure as a compelling character; Mitya and, especially, Ivan, steal the book and redeem it. Some will debate me, and say Rand's characters ARE in fact compelling; I ask them to read a play of Shakespeare, or look at Satan in Milton's "Paradise Lost", or Prince Andrei and Pierre in Tolstoy's "War and Peace," (the peaks of great characters), and still try to tell me Rand's characters are interesting. They are flat, two-dimensional, and boring; they are not human. Her language, too, is flat; her ideas are nothing original; and by no measure of literary greatness does THE FOUNTAINHEAD stand strong.

    THE FOUNTAINHEAD as Philosophy:
    I must admit that seeing Rand's "Objectivism" accepted in many philosophy departments (including my own university's) as genuine pains me greatly. I will not attack her philosophy point-by-point; that belongs more appropriately in a review of her main philosophical work, "The Virtue of Selfishness." Instead, I dispute the originality and "freshness" of her philosophy, two qualities many claim on Rand's behalf. A deeper study of her ideas shows one that the philosophy expressed in THE FOUNTAINHEAD and in her other works, is little more than a gleaning of ideas from Stoicism, Nietzsche, and, ironically, Kant (she railed against Kant, probably in an attempt to disguise his influence upon her; much in the same way T.S. Eliot decried Whitman to hide his debt). Randianism is an amalgam of these other philosophers' ideas, and nothing new or fresh. Her presentation isn't even fresh; the philosophical novel is not a new idea, and has been done better elsewhere: look to Voltaire's "Candide," Dr. Johnson's "Rasselas," Tolstoy's "War and Peace."
    If you like Randianism, fine. I can do little to change that. My only wish is that Randians would admit her debt to truly great philosophers like the Stoics, and, most especially, Immanuel Kant. I expect that the Randians, who often act in a sheepish cult-like manner (ironic for a group that preaches "individualism"), will rate this review, as they rate every negative review of Rand, quite lowly. So be it...
    ...more info
  • Highly recommend
    What an amazing and challenging read! I highly recommend some basic knowledge of Ayn Rand and her philosophies before picking up her books. It increases the readers ability to truly delve into characters and enjoy the depth that Rand creates. I was turned on to Rand by a friend and am so glad she gave me this to read. I will read it again I am sure. It is long and you will get much much more out of it if you allow yourself to open your mind and appreciate the characters as they are intended....more info
  • An interesting look at selfishness....
    In a world that is quickly degenerating, Ayn Rand paints a vivid portrait of a man who struggles against all odds to stand for himself. Howard Roark is a brilliant architect, who refuses to sacrifice his ideals and beliefs in return for monetary gain, popularity, or any of the other rewards that the people around him are so greedily willing to trade their values for. Unbending and noble, Howard fights to bring the world honesty by using his skills in architecture to create startlingly unique buildings. Criticized by the world for his unusual and functional buildings, that lacked the splendor and ornamental uselessness that had become so popular, Howard fights an uphill battle, while everything he holds dear hangs precariously in balance: his life, his work, and the woman he loves.
    This book is a clear illustration of Ayn Rand's philosophy of rational selfishness. Howard embodies the perfect man, who gives nothing of himself, and would never allow his values crumble. He embodies selfishness, in a balanced, reasonable way. Roark lives in the world, but not of it. He lives by his own standard, does his own work, and relies upon himself, never stealing another's work, or looking for his own gain. Integrity guides his actions, while he ignores the opinions and criticism of others. While Howard is the clear protagonist, the other characters vary in standing; some represent the evil of the world: of men that have failed, of men that could have never succeeded, of men with potential that discarded it for the dishonesty of the world.
    Peter Keating represents one of these men: the man who would never succeed. He aspires and plots; using men to achieve what he cannot by himself. He is weak and easily manipulated, and led away from the things he truly wishes to do with his life, preying on the weak to hide his own insecurity and lack of talent. He is easily corrupted, and lives his life only for the fickle and false approval of the world, which does not last. As he bases his personal value and happiness on this shaky foundation, he finds himself father and farther from the things he really desires, and in the end, alone, as a failure.
    Another man that represents the evil of the world: Ellsworth Toohey. A columnist for a widely read newspaper, Toohey shapes the public to his own diabolical whim. By highly praising those with little true talent, he takes the standard of man and lows the bar significantly, making mediocrity the highest aspiration, and turning the public against men such as Howard, who have true ability to succeed. Throughout the book men such as these represent the lowest humanity could fall to, thus causing Howard to be an intellectual giant amongst greedy, lazy, inept men. He is criticized for being "selfish" and "egotistical" though his only offense was to unyieldingly defend his values.
    Dominique Francon is another character that exemplifies greatness. Passionate, yet deeply afraid to love anything, only to see it taken away, Dominique lives only a half-life until she meets Roark. Howard's only love, and brilliant in her own right, Dominique fights fiercely against the world, hating them for what they do to Howard. Roark helps her to find that the world really doesn't matter, and she finally finds a way to discard what others think, and live her life fully and proudly, as Howard does.
    Gail Wynand is another man who Howard changed. Despite living in poverty as a child, he rose to become a great newspaper owner, with his newspapers influencing and shaping the way the public thinks and feels. He becomes good friends with Howard, who sees Gail for his genius and ability, and respects his talent of gaining personally. But Gail's success and love of life is only based on his ability to shape public opinion, so when his power fails, he fails as well.
    As the story goes on, Rand's antagonists constantly try to thwart Howard, including Dominique for a brief period of time. She marries Peter, trying to hurt Howard, to break him, so he stops offering the world his beauty and perfection that they will, in the end, only reject. So caught on what others thought, Dominique believed that the world didn't deserve Howard, and worked frantically to destroy his work. She begins to see as Howard does eventually, leaving the world behind and standing beside Howard to defend him and aid him in surviving obstacles. Her fear dissolves when she sees how untouchable Howard is, and how nothing can destroy him because of the confidence and knowledge he possesses. He has a difficult time getting commissions, and refuses some, only building the way he saw fit; refusing to compromise his integrity to build something he was not inspired to do. In doing so, he invoked the hatred of the people who would never understand or appreciate Howard's magnificent talent. As Toohey brought the public against Howard, Peter worked to use Roark's genius as his own, taking credit for Howard's work. The climax of the book occurs at Howard's trial, after he was arrested for destroying a building which he had designed, but had been secretly defiled. he delivers a speech about his ideals, trying to correct the corruption the world has fallen into, and explain how true happiness can come only from integrity, hard work, and self respect.

    The storyline is elaborately and skillfully weaved, the point comes across both bluntly and subtly; with enough imagination and fictional drama to hook the reader, and enough reality and philosophy to engage the reader, to invite thought and consideration about the world as it is today. Sometimes the plot seems a bit outlandish, but a touch of surrealness only adds to the entertaining aspects of the book.
    The characters in this book are vivid, though unrealistic. The heroes are vastly superior to those cast in a less desirable light. Nonetheless, Rand gets her point across. By making her "perfect man" so stunningly righteous and decent, by comparison everyone else is seen as dirty and low. They are too perfect, or too imperfect, and none of them really have much "humanity" to them--emotion remains unexpressed, there is no laughter, and few tears. The characters sometimes seem to be made of stone. Despite this, the symbolism behind each of the characters is very well done. The text can sometimes seem a bit thick--in subject matter and length. Some of Howard's monologues are overkill, but still, the point is there, without flourish or disguise. Rand places her point in front of the reader, presented by the glorious protagonist, and to disagree would put the reader into the same category as Peter Keating, and Toohey: not only in the wrong, but as a being that is working to destroy human progress; the embodiment of pure evil. The characters draw the reader in, and before they know it, Howard has won them over, and so has Rand with her philosophy of rational selfishness, and the theory that "A man's ego is the fountainhead of human progress."

    ...more info
  • An American Classic
    Based on recommendations of several friends, I picked up Atlas Shrugged - but also Ayn Rand's earlier book, The Fountainhead. In the interest of easing into these large books, I picked the shorter, earlier work. A few weeks after finishing the book, I am still turning the ideas over in the back of my mind. As The Fountainhead is a novel written by Rand to explain her philosophy of objectivism, it is both entertaining and thought-provoking. All the while one reads this book, it helps to remember the historical setting. Published in 1943, socialism/collectivism as a philosophy of government and society were ascendant; capitalism/individualism was unfashionable in the aftermath of the Great Depression and World War I, and in the turmoil the ongoing Second World War. To those without the experience of collectivism and seeking to make sense of the tumultuous 20th century, this new philosophy had a broad appeal. Rand had a first hand taste of collectivism when her family's St. Petersburg pharmacy was confiscated by the Bolsheviks around 1920. She arrived in New York in 1926, having already developed a lifelong hatred of collectivism in all its forms.
    The Fountainhead was written by Rand to explain her philosophy of objectivism. So while it is a good story, it is also (primarily) a book of ideas. The story centers around four main characters: Howard Roark & Peter Keating who travel dramatically different roads to grow from architecture students to become very different men; Ellsworth Toohey, a cynical and scheming leader/manipulater of men whose life goal is to further the cause of socialism/collectivism in the United States with himself as leader; Gail Wynand, a seedy newspaper mogul who possesses a surprisingly strong conscience and intellect in contrast to his flagship tabloid publication.
    Roark is Rand's ideal: a man equally unbending in his principles in the face of vicious public criticism or lavish support, moreover he is almost entirely unaffected by his detractors. Keating is precisely the opposite, a man who only lives to beg, borrow or steal the affections and praise of others. Keating manages to be highly successful in a leading architectural firm, while secretly turning to Roark for help on his greatest projects. The inner conflict that naturally arises from his double life makes him a lackey (friend in Keating's mind) of Toohey. Toohey makes Keating feel good about himself while lavishly praising his mediocre architectural achievements in an influential column that Toohey writes in Wynand's newspaper. Toohey purposely supports the mediocrity of Keating and others because he aims to deny - even destroy - the existence of surpassing individual achievements that are the antithesis of a collectivist society. Toohey masterfully uses Wynand's newspaper as a platform for his views, yet in such a manner that few realize the eventual implications before it's too late - least of all Wynand. Finally, Dominique Francon is a singularly beautiful and brilliant woman who plays her own critical role in the lives of each of these men. Dominique's character experiences the most changes of any of the characters in the story. Her complicated relationships with each of them are variously based on love and hate, principle and expediency.
    All aspects of The Fountainhead serve to illuminate ideas; as a result, readers may note the lack of change and growth in main characters whose largely static identities are necessary to the story. Further, these ideas are presented forcefully in black and white, leaving little room for real world shades of gray. The treatment of love and sex in the story will strike many readers as cynical or even offensive, while Rand's atheism is particularly strong. Readers who can set aside personal differences (such as they exist) with the author, however, will enjoy a book that inspires through its praise of achievement over mediocrity, and will also have an opportunity to reexamine their own beliefs on relationships, culture and society. The Fountainhead is an American literary classic, as relevant to our lives today as it was almost 65 years ago.
    ...more info
  • Inspiring, Absolutely
    In the introduction to the 25th Anniversary Edition, Ayn Rand suggests that she meant for her book to deal with the notion of the "ideal man."

    I do not think Rand was successful. Howard Roark is not the ideal. His relationships with other humans are, in my estimation, far too unhealthy. Further, his egoism seems, at times, a bit outrageous.

    Still, despite the fact that Rand didn't meet her goal, she did write a truly inspiring book. After reading it, I felt powerful, as if humans can be truly remarkable, heroic creatures. Further, the book can help us gain the strength necessary to maintain our integrity and create good, quality work, even when social expectations drive us to do otherwise.

    Shortly after reading this book, I spoke to one of my good friends. He sounded troubled and he told me that most of his goals and major life choices had been decided for him by other people. He didn't know what he, himself, really wanted, or if he wanted anything. This sentiment resembled one of the character's thoughts to such an extent that I immediately ordered a copy of The Fountainhead and mailed it to the friend. If any book could help him sort out his thinking, and discover that there is some value to selfishness, THIS IS THE BOOK.

    Ayn Rand doesn't provide a true philosophy. She doesn't tell us to what we should really aspire or what the ideal man really is. Still, she does write one heck of an inspiring book, which, as other reviews have suggested, can have the ability to deeply affect our lives and thought.

    ---

    I just realized that this review doesn't, as most of my fiction reviews do, address the author's literary merit. I should say that, while the writing seems, at times, dry and stilted, and while the dialogue often doesn't sound "real," Ayn Rand's prose serve her purpose. She has written a great, philosophical novel.

    ...more info
  • Enjoyable and Intellectually Stimulating
    THE FOUNTAINHEAD was my first exposure to Ayn Rand and her objectivist ideas. I'm surprised how much I enjoyed it. This novel is brimming with Rand's philosophy, but also presents a very compelling story about a man (the brilliant architect Howard Roark) who refuses to compromise his integrity against all odds. For the most part, this book is a real page turner.

    This type of novel isn't for everyone. The writing is dry in spots, and much of the dialogue is stilted and unrealistic. But I do really admire Rand's ambition here. In THE FOUNTAINHEAD, she tries to convey a lot of big and demanding ideas that are normally not expressed by the mainstream media, or by most of the artistic community. This book, in many ways, is one of a kind.

    Although I don't agree with all of Ayn Rand's philosophy, I still found myself looking at society in new and different ways after finishing this book. So this is the type of novel that can change your world view. And even if it doesn't, it's an interesting experience that you won't forget. I heartily recommend THE FOUNTAINHEAD to those interested in being challenged as well as entertained.

    ...more info
  • My guiding philosophy through a turbulent life
    The first time I read Ayn Rand was when I was about 18. It was a life-changing experience. It was one of those moments when one finds the right words to describe what one feels, especially when one did not know that such words existed or had been expressed. All my life up to that point, I had been stymied by the will of the collective, as enforced by a domineering father hell-bent on molding me in his image, and a stifling cultural environment that valued fitting-in, rote memorization and academic succee bss as described by narrow definitions limited to doctor and engineer. I grew up in the hyper-competitive rat race world that is the Indian middle-class, where intelligence, curiosity and creativity are all to be sacrificed at the altar of a steady job and one's total devotion to the pursuit of the ultimate goal, public adulation, typically based on a facade of 'normalcy'. I had a hard time trying to adjust to a world that constantly told me, "Well yes, you are intelligent and have the brains, so why dont you use them to get better grades and become a doctor or an engineer?" Just at the time when this pressure was rising up to a crescendo, I happened to find "The Fountainhead" in my first year of college.

    It was like a new dimension had opened up and this person, Ayn Rand, knew exactly the mind-set that I was struggling against. I recognized the Keatings and the Tooheys I had dealt with and would have to deal with for the rest of my life, and rarely, the other mavericks that walked their own path to their own drumbeat. I knew instinctively that this was more than a book, it was an instruction manual for a certain type of person. For others, especially those of the Peter Keating, "i want people to love me and I will do anything to fit in" mentality and of the Toohey "He enjoys what he does and so he must be destroyed" mind set, it was a load of crap. Now, I am sure there are a lot of people that do their own thing, don't worry about others and still don't like Ayn Rand, but for someone thats drowning in a sea of negativity, Ayn Rand is that piece of driftwood that comes at the right time just before one is about to go under. It gave me the strength to survive the constant barrage of naysayers telling me what I couldn't do, how I was stupid to try things my way, the critiques, the ridicule and stifled laughter behind my back for daring to go against the grain and just for trying something in my life that had nothing to do with their own lives. In later years, I learned to gauge the degree of 'rightness' of a course of action by the amount of uproar it created among a certain set of people. I learned to use the negativity to my advantage.

    The upshot, well, life is an ongoing process, but I am happier through all my successes and failures precisely because they are mine and I have lived them on my terms. It has been very very hard at times, but I have never felt despair or the need to ask others about the course I need to set at every turn. The successes have been extremely rewarding and the failures, mere setbacks that just make me stronger for the next battle. Reminiscing about the younger days (I am 33 as of this writing) and meeting the sheep-like Peter Keatings that were in my life back then only affirms my self-belief and the strength I got from Ayn Rand when no such reassurance was forthcoming from the people around me.

    There are several reviews and opinions here, some I agree with and others that I dont. They all have a right to their opinions, however, my only request to the negative (and some positive) reviewers is, please don't assign current political terminology such as liberal and/or conservative to the Ayn Rand canon. No matter what you think about her ideology and literature, lets get something straight. She talks about individuals and their strength as such. Even her harshest critics will grant her that. The very idea behind "The Fountainhead" is to be whatever brand of ideologue one wants to be and to have the freedom to be that regardless of public opinion. She cannot be hijacked to serve the purposes of a political party or of any other ideology besides the one that she espouses in her books, that of objectivist individualism. It transcends 'manufactured consent'-era spin doctor created labels such as liberal or conservative that have lost all objective meaning and only serve to evoke knee-jerk responses in the minds of the readers to push the right buttons that spin-mongers have programmed within the collective consciousness. The ideology that comes closest to her ideals is Libertarianism but even that has branched off into myriad flavors further underlining the fact that individualism cannot be summed up easily into one philosophy. It means different things to different people, which is exactly the point....more info
  • A Timeless Read
    "The Fountainhead" is as relevant, if not more so, today than it was when it was published decades ago. Still controversial in numerous ways, understanding the philosophy and thoughts conveyed through strong characters and an engaging plot provides for a good book.

    While dates from the 1920s and 1930s are mentioned a number of times in the book, there is a certain timeless quality to this publication. The personalities of the well-drawn characters and the action flow seem as if they could be found in a book published just last month.

    The philosophical underpinnings found in "The Fountainhead" may not appeal to everyone, but reading this book should provide insight into a particular way of thinking and acting via an engrossing read.

    Read in conjunction with "Atlas Shrugged", also written by Ayn Rand, one can witness an emerging view of how one author saw the world.

    Highly recommended....more info
  • Thought Provoking, but Very Dry
    Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead," is a very thought provoking book, and at times, even exciting. There's a lot of memorable philosophy here. With that being said, it really is a good book. For philosophy. As fiction, however, The Fountainhead is rather bland. If you're looking for a good story, head elsewhere. But if thought provocation is your thing, this book is a pretty good read, despite being overly long and overly descriptive.

    Ayn Rand's novel follows Howard Roark, an architect who goes against traditional and conventional standards. Who builds buildings for him and no one else. Ayn Rand's ideal man. But the story isn't just about him. The story is also about a man named Peter Keating, everything a man should not be. A man who builds not for his own satisfaction, but for the satisfaction of others. It is also about a man named Ellsworth Toohey, Roark's nemesis, who is everything a man shouldn't be, but knows it. It is also about Gail Wynand, a man who could've been. Finally, it is about Dominique Francon, the woman who tries to defeat Roark. All these characters are involved in Ayn Rand's novel. The philosophy is there. What and ideal man should be and what a man should not be. Told through the power of architecture. The theme is very simple: Man's ego is the fountainhead of human progress.

    It really is a thought provoking book. One that presents a lot of ideas. With the exception of Dominique Francon, every major character has an entire story that helps to shape what Ayn Rand is trying to say about man and how he should be. From showing us why Ellsworth Toohey is evil, to why Peter Keating isn't strong.

    However, the writing style of the book is definitely one you'll have a hard time plowing through. Much of the writing is over descriptive. It's almost like reading a novel out the Romanticism era. Ayn Rand makes sure to describe every leaf on every tree. It slows down the pacing of the book to a crawl. And with 700 pages to plow through, a slow pace can be very daunting.

    The book is a very slow read and it's very dry. The book is also so bogged down in philosophy that her characters don't come off as human. All the dialog that comes from the characters doesn't sound like how any human would ever talk. In short, these characters are not humans, they are symbols and that really makes them far less interesting to read about. Their actions are also not human at all. It may be because of this that the book is such a thought provoking read, though. Despite how dry the dialog is, it's interesting because it helps the ideas of Ayn Rand's philosophy come out. Whether you agree or not, she has presented her take on this philosophy in a fairly interesting way.

    Is The Fountainhead a good book? Yes. Is it thought provoking and intelligent? Certainly. But is it also boring and hard to get through? The answer there is also yes. It's a great idea put on the table. Surely there will be plenty who absolutely love that. However, at the same time, it's a very hard book to plow through because of its over descriptive and dry prose and characters who aren't interesting because they're symbols. And the representation they all stand for is far too clear, especially because the publisher felt the need to stick in some of Rand's notes.

    In short, The Fountainhead is a very good book, that presents many philosophical ideas. The problem is that as a book of fiction, the story is bogged down by dry prose and stilted dialog....more info
  • Amazing
    Howard Roark and Dominique Francon are two of my favorite characters in all of literature. Strong willed and awesome....more info
  • AS LITERATURE
    If one reads the commentaries recorded by RASHI on the Bible book "Song of Songs" the description, lovely, by the man of his beloved's breasts
    is annotated as meaning Moses and Aaron.

    The author of Fountainhead has the quality of the commentary--taking the life out of the wonderous. She does this by preaching and by horrid writing. As literature, "The Fountainhead" is horrid. ...more info
  • Read "The Virtue of Selfishness" Instead
    Rand has a few great ideas about the course of history being influenced by great men and women. I happen to believe this is correct. 95% of the population add little to the advance of humankind. In the workforce I have seen key people out perform ten coworkers.

    What I have not seen is a woman who prefers rape as Dominique does or a capitalist too good to compromise to make a profit (Roark). Rands' hate of the little people, "the second handers", and their miserable little lives and her avoidance of empathy, humor and even children makes her a misanthrope of the first order.

    The " Virtue of Selfishnes " by Rand is a much cleaner and shorter approach to understanding her core belief that when we act in our own self interest its better for the individual and society. ...more info
  • Laughably Pretentious and Unintentionally Ironic.
    The Fountainhead is about an architect who is such a genius that the world tries to suppress him. Now, you'd think that someone would be smart enough to try to exploit and capitalize on his genius, but no, that's not what happens. Why? Because his architecture is so terrific that it mocks everyone else's mediocrity. I'm neither exaggerating nor joking. And no, this novel is not a satire -- It's really that pretentious.

    However, THE FOUNTAINHEAD does have one thing going for it: it's unintentionally ironic. Although Ayn Rand seems to take herself too seriously to consciously incorporate irony into her work, the book's irony lies in the fact that Rand has written an elitist manifesto for the masses.

    Let's use novelists as an example: In my experience, great writing is most often readily apparent. On the other hand, I know some unsuccessful writers who think highly of their own writing and rail against mediocrity and "the herd" in direct response to their failed careers. Naturally, the problem couldn't be that their novels are pointless unentertaining drivel. Like the comedian who badgers his audience because it doesn't find him funny, according to Rand, the truly brilliant novel gets rejected because no one but geniuses possess the vision to see how brilliant the novel is. This novelist and comedian are the people who love Ayn Rand, because her philosophy of Objectivism allows them so sit in aloof condescension of others yet places no burden on them to reach any level of achievement or recognition in their given field. After all, true genius gets suppressed by the herd, lest the masses be shamed by the existence of such magnificence. Therefore, only mediocre writers get published, sell books and win Nobel Prizes, right? Audiences don't laugh at TRULY funny jokes... ad nauseum.

    Ironically, of course, THE FOUNTAINHEAD has enjoyed lots of commercial success. Therefore by Rand's own reasoning, the popularity of The Fountainhead would seem to contradict the ideas it espouses. Or perhaps Rand doesn't presume her own work to be genius. Perhaps Rand isn't the pompous, self-congratulatory, pretentious twit that the tone of The Fountainhead might suggest. Perhaps Rand possesses the humility not to suggest herself to be one of the persecuted geniuses of whom she's so fond of writing.

    ...more info
  • Read this in 2 days
    I was on a 24 hour train through india, and read most of this book during that time. The characters are magnets to your soul....more info
  • One of my favorites...
    This is one of my favorite books, right up there with 1984 and Atlas Shrugged. ...more info
  • Where to begin
    When reading a novel or philosophical treatise you become absorbed into the mind of its author. The author's thoughts emanate throughout all characters and are apparent in all the pages. Upon reading this novel be prepared for this one person's controversial thoughts, (with holes in her philosophy), on politics, ideals and livelihood for the long 700 plus pages.

    Taken as a novel, the book is far from being brilliant. Lacking realistic characters, lacking character development and change, this novel simply lacks. The two dimensional characters are set out to be a certain way and that is the way they remain. This stagnation in my opinion makes poor novels. Good novelists create real people experiencing a wide range of believable emotions and a deep penetration into their psychosis. Great novelists can create these characters and document a change throughout the course of the novel keeping to the deep penetration into the psychological insights of the characters.

    The weakest part of the novel was the melodramatic dialogue and unbelievable character interactions. What were Roark and Dominique doing to each other? Their relationship went beyond even the ideals of romanticism to the ideals of nonsensical. It was not hot or passionate or seeking the highest concepts of love but rather was over the top, unrealistic and just plain weird.

    The writing has no aesthetic value, no beautiful use of words or combination of word, no mood enhancing sentence rhythms, no flow from sentence to sentence or chapter to chapter. The primary purpose of the writing was to get the point across, similar to an averagely written article.

    Setting the book as a novel and the writing style aside, I think Rand's intention was to express her philosophy. This can explain why she creates the characters as they are and as I described them, not as real people but rather as ideals, and notions. This fact that the characters are unreal is not only the flaw in the novel but the flaw in the philosophy.

    It fails because she creates a human being that is perfect. No one can create a building as good as Roark. He is never wrong and it is taken for granted anything he touches is perfection. In real life no one is perfect. People can be great at what they do but not perfect. Therefore, it is possible that a real person who is a genius, (but not perfect) might miss something or make a mistake. Therefore, it is necessary that other people are needed to create things as close to perfection as possible. Getting many minds together working COOPERATIVELY is more powerful and greater than one. Rand confuses creating works of art, where the one artist makes his/her personal expression versus a thing of practicality and necessity such as buildings.

    Rand promotes the idea of working only for yourself and having selfish goals. While working or caring for others is the most horrid, base premise only for the weak or the corrupt. She contrives to make the one who helps other, (Toohey) the epitomy of corruption and I would even go as far as to say Diabolically evil (which is also stupid, characters like that should only be in stories like star wars or lord of the rings).

    I would like to ask Rand, can you create and work for yourself and yet for others. Can it be possible that a human being can have a heart, likes people and gets the greatest personal reward (or selfish goal) from seeing other peoples lives improved or alleviating suffering or hardship? Can the only reward someone gets is producing/creating some inanimate object such as a building? Maybe people make you happy. An individual can have a selfish goal to make people happy, it is what makes this individual happy, and it has an affect of making people better off as well.

    Her philosophy promotes the creator or the genius. How many people in society does this encompass? In other words, it is a philosophy for the elite. It makes sense and sounds good on paper, similar to her antithesis (Marx and Lenin); however these are philosophies not for this world. A combination of the philosophies or a meeting in the middle is the most realistic. It seems at times like the purpose of this novel was to put down a theory of government she was against.

    The books greatest achievement is the creation of a character we can all try to emulate. Roark's intense individualistic spirit is something we can all strive for. He knows what he wants and asserts himself one hundred percent never compromising who he is no matter what circumstances befall him or who attempts to manipulate him.

    Her philosophy on livelihood is also displayed in the book. All actions, words and movement have the most vital dramatic purposes creating a very heavy tone and being devoid of all humor. I believe she promotes this intense profoundness in life. I on the other hand believe living this way can lead to unhappiness. I'd be curious to know if Rand was a happy person. It is important to be able to laugh at life and even yourself and take things some what light heartedly since there are so many unforeseen circumstances completely out of ones control.

    Despite all of this the philosophy was obviously thought provoking, has substance and really is saying something. It is controversial material and I thought I saw a tremendous amount of holes in her reasoning which further reinforced my own beliefs. However Howard Roark's individualism and integrity is something that all can look to strive towards and I thank the person for bringing this book to my attention for all the thought derived from it.
    ...more info
  • The Fountainhead
    Various things are exaggerated in the book, but yet it manages to articulate those inarticulate views on e.g. individualism and collectivism that I've had for many years and was sometimes critized for. This is one the reasons why I found the book to be worthwhile. Roark is also inspiring, and the plot is intriguing....more info
  • Ayn Rand, The Fountain Head
    Very old book but true to the day on how mas media can make or break (shape) public opinion....more info
  • A Black and White Classic
    I read the Fountainhead for the first time 20 years ago after graduating from College. It was the most memorable and thought-provoking literary experience of my life and had a profound impact on my views of the world at the time. Within weeks of finishing The Fountainhead, I read Atlas Shrugged and was further captivated by the Randian philosophies of objectivism and individualism.

    For the past 20 years, I have retained much of what I learned from those books, but have also acquired 20 years of real-world adulthood and experience. With that backdrop, I recently decided that it was time to go back and reread the Fountainhead. I was curious whether the messages conveyed to a 21 year old graduate would still carry the same impact and resonance.

    I picked up the book 5 days ago and finished it last night. I was once again enraptured by the story and simply couldn't put the book down to go to sleep any night this week. The characters and dialog were still fascinating and entertaining and I was pleased that certain tenets of the Randian philosophy stayed true with me after all these years. That being said, with an adult's perspective, I also found the characters to be completely implausible and their relationships with each other to be borderline silly. While the dialogs were captivating, they weren't real. Whether it was Rourke and Wynand expounding on the yacht or Toohey spending 3 pages in a long-winded diatribe with Keating toward the end of the novel, there were simply too many instances where Rand unabashedly uses conversation to spout her philosophy with total disregard for how people actually converse with each other. Thus I had more of a sense this time around that The Fountainhead was a philosophy textbook disguised as a novel.

    The main thing that struck me this time around was that Rand can't seem to find a middle-ground with her characters . . . and this again makes them unreal. When I was 21, I misguidedly believed that adults could actually be as Rand describes. What did I know? Now I view these characters as unnaturally extreme, rigid and one and two dimensional. They are nothing more than cardboard representations of certain ideals, caricatured to the nth degree. Roark and Toohey are not real men . . . they are Randian fantasy creatures. For entertainment purposes, I enjoyed being reacquainted with them, but I have no illusions that they are based on actual human beings. Dominique. Puh-lease. Her storyline is so absurd that I could only laugh my way through it. Wynand . . . I'm still not sure what to make of him and I still don't really understand what Roark would see in a friendship with Wynand. Whatever.

    Long story short, with a grain of salt and a suspension of disbelief, this is still an entertaining and educational novel. Despite the extremes, there is much to be learned and applied from the Randian ideals: strive to achieve and excel, think for yourself, exist for yourself not for others or for some imaginary higher power, don't be dependent upon others, hold sacred and don't compromise your integrity, stick to your convictions.


    ...more info
  • Get Entertained and Enlightened
    I like a book that can make me think, but mostly I like a book that will keep me entertained. The thing about authors with big ideas is that at some point they forget that they're authors and start thinking their sole purpose is to enlighten humanity. This must have happened to Rand after she finished this book, because Atlas Shrugged (her later work) was preachy and almost started to feel like a chore once I got halfway through.

    The Fountainhead is a novel and it doesn't forget what it is. It is rapidly paced, with interesting, human characters, facing realistic conflicts and generally being completely awesome about it (a couple of scenes had me yelling hell yes in my head). The only thing that makes the characters kind of strange is that they're particularly articulate and pensive, so some scenes have you asking yourself "who talks like that?". But it's still believable in the context, and it's worth it to suspend disbelief to get a glimpse of her philosophy. Her ideas make sense, but you have to understand what she means when she's saying altruism is bad and selfishness is good, she intends very specific definitions, and when you work it all out it isn't as sensationalistic as it first sounds.

    Overall The Fountainhead is to Objectivism what WE is to dystopian literature. It is a novel of ideas, but you only care about it because you have characters to relate to. It makes you think, but only because you are trying to understand the characters' motivations. It isn't just flat out telling you what to believe. Even the most expository sections feel like they belong as meaningful events in the novel. They take place at appropriate moments, speeches, a defense at a trial, after hours of meditation; it doesn't feel like it was just transposed from Rand's journal to the page.

    If you care about being entertained first and enlightened second (if at all), this is the right Rand book to pick up.


    ...more info
  • Life Changing Novel
    The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand is a book that has changed my life by changing the ways I view others. It's very hard not to categorize people as Howard Roark's and Peter Keating's after reading this book. I love all of the political ideologies, and her philosophy of Objectivism is very clear and unambiguous throughout the novel. I think it is much easier to understand what Objectivism really is after reading this book because it gives you real, human examples. I also love the "love story" between Roark and Monique and how their whole relationship is built on hurt and tension. Another thing I have also learned is that no one is really a true Howard Roark or Ellsworth Toohey, most people are just like Peter Keating. But, I think in our country today we need someone like Howard Roark to do what's best and stop caring what everyone thinks. I would recommend this book to anyone and it will definitely leave you thinking about the world and people once you are done reading it....more info
  • Captivating from page one
    I read this book of all places in Moscow while on a year abroad in Russia. I did not realize when I packed it that it could have gotten me in trouble there in 1987. I knew nothing about the book when I bought it, only that someone (I forgot who) had recommended it to me and I bought it in a second hand book store in Iowa City at some point in my college life. I read this in about 3 nights. It ensnared me from the first sentence. Ayn Rand became one of my favorite authors. This book is about two architects, one a "genius" of his own individual creativity and style, one a genius of collaborative style, and about a woman who is akin to the devil. When I read this book at age 20, I felt like it had extracted my view of the world and society from my brain. It worships godlike talent and condemns the power and mediocrity of the collective. An old friend once dubbed me a fascist for loving this book. It's ideal of "love" is rape. A more mature view of the content would find this a disturbing philosophy (compare to servant leadership and "The Wisdom of Teams"). Definitely a good read for anyone....more info
  • Philosophically untenable
    Ayn Rand's talent as a writer is manifest primarily in her characterizations, and her ability to write dialogue. She is also a master of analogy, though it is an over employed technique.

    Although my familiarity with her philosophy is limited to The Fountainhead, it certainly is capsulized in Howard Roark's summation to the jury at the close of the book. Rand's celebration of the self (egotism in her words) at the expense of the collective (second-handers in her terminology) seems shallow and unworkable. She idealizes the creator of the wheel, because such advances to civilization exemplify the results of an individual working for his own self interest, whereas the user of a cart is merely a member of the collective second-handers following the resultant availability of carts (essentially). Man's self interest is the highest good to Ms. Rand; higher than spirituality, higher than love (witness the 'heroic' surrender of Roark's love, Dominique, to two other marital partners apparently because neither could submit to the discounting of creative genius by the collective); higher than altruism (the ultimate underminer of Randian self-interest); and certainly higher than government regulation (as manifested in the current financial crisis led by such Randians as Alan Greenspan and Phil Graham).

    The ultimate moral collapse of Gail Wynand makes no sense because he had no need to submit to the collective will- eventually acquiring full ownership of the Banner newspaper and closing it (those who have not yet read the book will forgive me this paragraph). The acquittal of Howard Roark makes no sense; predicated on the basis of a contract giving him full creative powers. In short the tenuousness of self directed behavior strains the narrative, itself, because of the faulted philosophical underpinnings.

    Ayn Rand is the antithesis of Vedic thought from the Upanishads to the Buddhist sutras. One must feed the motives of the self. We are independent entities beyond the necessities of others. The highest self is that which knows no compromise. The transcendence of the ego leads to no discovery because there is no higher Self, no Atman, no Holy Ghost, no God, and no higher consciousness.

    In short The Fountainhead is an engaging read. Within its narrative style lies a self-refutation of selfish behavior, a dramatization of the suffering caused by egotism, and blindness to the commonality and interdependence of mankind.

    As a counterpoint to utilitarianism and the philosophies of the East stands Randian libertarianism ; a polarity to contentment, and in its contrast allowing one to understand the higher Self more deeply. If we all were capable of inventing wheels, and the servicers of our biological needs were insentient
    automatons perhaps the empty bauble of Howard Roark's existence would make sense, though it would remain empty; as untenable as Ayn Rand's philosophy. ...more info
  • Read and learn!
    A collegue gave me this book a couple of years ago. The book was catching the karakters as discribes by Ayn Rand are an inspiration. Ever since reading the book for the firts time I give this book to people around me and everybody loves it. ...more info
  • Poorly written, even for failed philosophy
    Ok, to start off lets forget all about the B.S Philosophy of Ayn Rand and focus purely on the writing content of the story itself.

    I give it one star, simply for the character development which seems to follow her philosophy fairly well. She seems to have developed the Protagonist and the antagonist very well, though it seems she did this by accident if only to fill her philosophical ideals. It's apparent because the supporting characters seem shallow and their interactions in no way resemble true human relationships.

    Rand seems like she tries to make up for this with excruciating and painfully dull, redundant, and useless detail such as the one sentence that almost made me burn the damn thing. "They went on, to move, to feel the movement, to know the feeling of their own muscles moving"

    If rand wanted to create a nice piece of literature and not just a semi creative philosophy book, she could have cut out the redundant details and focused more on tying in all the complex details and philosophy of the book itself with a viable and decent story line. If you cut out all the useless B.S the book itself would be about 1/3 shorter and easier to read.

    This book is a good example of why many famous philosophers such as Aristotle and Cicero stuck to the non-fiction genre. Philosophy alone doesn't make a good story.
    ...more info
  • Nice introduction to Rand's views
    This is a nice introduction to Rand's views I think for those who don't have the will to finish the significantly larger work of hers... Atlas Shrugged. It seems long enough that people should be able to fairly easily gain an understanding of what she's about, although I really think that if possible people should probably go for Atlas Shrugged first.

    Both are certainly classics and should be read by anyone seeking a greater understanding of life, philosophy, and politics. I highly recommend it. ...more info