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The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

The Fountainhead (1943)

by Ayn Rand

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
15,662217113 (3.9)257
  1. 103
    Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand (bigtent21, thebookpile)
    bigtent21: "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead" are becoming more relevant as we head into 2009. Large Government Buyouts and Regulation are the scourge of Atlas Shrugged and the outright sponsoring of mediocrity predominates The Fountainhead. Rand can be long-winded, but these two books are must reads regardless of your own personal beliefs.… (more)
  2. 31
    Essays on Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead by Robert Mayhew (mcaution)
    mcaution: Gain a deeper understanding and appreciation on the classic novel from this collection of scholarly criticism.
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» See also 257 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 205 (next | show all)
Oh, Ayn Rand. How I wish I could enjoy your books more than I do.

This is my second go at a Rand book. My first was Atlas Shrugged. I liked this one a lot more, but I pretty much hated Atlas Shrugged, so I'm not sure how much that says. :) I'm starting to think Rand may be an acquired taste.

It's not her writing I have trouble with. In fact, I was impressed with how much her book kept my attention despite it's length (about 800 pages, or 26 CDs). She's clearly an intelligent and thought provoking author. It's also not her philosophy of objectivism I struggle with, per se, even if I don't agree with it. In Rand's own words (from Atlas Shrugged), her philosophy "in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."

Hmmm. While I differ with this viewpoint (I do think it's vitally important to follow one's passions, creativity and ideals, but not above all else or at the expense of others), that in and of itself would not be enough for me to dislike a book. I think it's more that her philosophy is so.... well, pervasive. It consumes every page, and there's not much subtlety to be found. You know where Rand stands, and you know where her characters stand. Which is all well and good. But as others have pointed out, the end result is that the majority of her characters (though quite vivid) are not very likable. They are selfish, self-absorbed, self-important, and all things related to the self. While I realize this is part of the point, it made it hard for me to relate to, admire or even sometimes care what happened to them. While this is also arguably in part the point (society doesn't tend to favor people who stray from the norm and relentlessly follow their own ideals).... that didn't make it any easier for me to like the characters. And, maybe this doesn't make me much of an intellectual reader, but I like to emote and relate (at least to some degree) to the characters I'm reading about. Especially if I'm going to spend 32 hours with them.

All that being said, I did like the book overall. It is well-written, well-developed, fast-paced and thought provoking. It was also revolutionary for its time. And while I disagreed with some of the ideas of man and reason as supreme to all else (isn't there enough egotism in society already?), I still enjoyed hearing the arguments for argument's sake. And as stated earlier, I did appreciate and agree with some of the points made on the importance of creativity, reason, non-conformity and the pursuit of happiness/following one's convictions. I can see why so many love it, especially if the ideas ring true for you. I can also see why so many people hate it. It's worth checking out, if not just for the controversy.
( )
  Brightraven | Apr 26, 2018 |
Ayn Rand as a philosopher....unique and interesting, and fun to pick out the flaws. Ayn Rand as a novelist....terrible. I wanted to throw this book across the room. ( )
  abergsman | Mar 20, 2018 |
I would give this book seven stars if I could.

It expounds on a profound philosophy under the guise of fiction, making it easy to follow and understand the message that the author is trying to put across.

( )
  yamiyoghurt | Jan 29, 2018 |
One of those books that sort of happen in adolescent-college life. escapist in retrospect ( )
  michaeljoyce | Dec 4, 2017 |
I'm a political liberal, and always thought I should read Rand, if only to try to understand what has driven Paul Ryan and others to label her as their favorite author. The book is long and ponderous, but the plot does move along and I was eager to find out what would happen to the characters.

The book's hero is Howard Rourk, who at the start of the book is a brilliant architecture student at a fictional Massachusetts college being expelled because he refuses to do assignments in the classical styles of the day and insists on marching to the beat of his own drum only. His apparent opposite is Peter Keating, another student graduating at the same time at the top of his class, who has a knack for ingratiating himself socially and uses that ability to hide his mediocre abilities from the world. The book then follows the two as their careers and lives intersect in New York City over the next 15 years.

The book later focuses on three other important characters: Ellsworth Toohey, an architecture critic and supporter of Keating who becomes the book's villain; Gail Wynand, a self-made millionaire newspaper publisher and business titan; and Dominique Francon, the beautiful and brilliant daughter of the most prominent architect in New York and eventual lover of more than one of the above-mentioned male characters.

The book is characterized by many long speeches by major characters, laying out their principles, and many twists and turns as the fortunes of the major characters rise and fall.

Of course, ultimately the point of the book is that what the weak-minded call "selflessness", caring for others, is a blight on society, while the real heroes are those who create original concepts and demonstrate total independence. Roark is utterly incorruptible and unbending, willing to face complete professional ruin rather than compromise his principles and design anything that sullies his art by adding classical or decorative touches. Meanwhile, Keating has no center and no original thoughts, which serves him well for much of the story.

I was most confused by the Toohey character, who emerges eventually as a cackling villain, bent on destroying Roark for reasons that are a little fuzzy. He's a socialist, of course, but I didn't understand the connection between socialism and the need to stop Roark's brilliant style (which after all is well-suited to the communist buildings of the day, in the Soviet Union, which were also bereft of classical touches and are functional if nothing else). I guess the issue is that Roark is an anti-collectivist, refusing to work in collaboration with anyone.

Anyway, I guess the book is effective in laying out the principles of Objectivism, at least implicitly. I'm very put off by a philosophy that worships the Great Man and basically sees the rest of us as nothing more than foils to demonstrate his Greatness. I think cooperation is a lot healthier way to live a life and to order a society.

Maybe that makes me Peter Keating! ( )
  DanTarlin | Oct 19, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 205 (next | show all)
[Miss Rand] has written a hymn in praise of the individual and has said things worth saying in these days. Whether her antithesis between altruism and selfishness is logically correct or not, she has written a powerful indictment.

» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Rand, Aynprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hurt, ChristopherNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Peikoff, LeonardAfterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Van Rheenen, JanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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"Whatever their future, at the dawn of their lives, men seek a noble vision of man's nature and of life's potential." _____Ayn Rand
To Frank O'Connor
First words
Howard Roark laughed.
To say "I love you" one must first be able to say the "I".
"If a writer wrote merely for his time, I would have to break my pen and throw it away" —Victor Hugo.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book description
Fountainhead by Ayn Rand is the story of Howard Roark, a man who stands up for his principles in a world where they are not valued. He pays the price for it, with his rivals like Peter Keating getting ahead. But he runs his own race, because the race everyone else runs is one filled with compromise and without integrity. He falls in love with a woman, whom he must first teach to live in a world like this. He stands tall, alone, and shows us the essence of individualism.
Haiku summary
The selfless man is/acting as his own builder/and as destroyer (missteacher)

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0451191153, Mass Market Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:44 -0400)

(see all 10 descriptions)

Here is the story of an intransigent young architect, Howard Roark, of his violent battle against a mindless status quo, and of his explosive love affair with a beautiful woman who worships him yet struggles to defeat him. In order to build his kind of buildings according to his own standards, Roark must fight against every variant of human corruption.… (more)

» see all 11 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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HighBridge Audio

An edition of this book was published by HighBridge Audio.

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An edition of this book was published by HighBridge.

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