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The Fountainhead Mass Market Paperback – September 1, 1996
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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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
A writer of great power. She has a subtle and ingenious mind and the capacity of writing brilliantly, beautifully, bitterly. ("The New York Times") --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book itself deserves five stars. I've noticed patterns and even complete lines that were later found in Atlas Shrugged but it is an amazing worship to the human individualism and might. If someone asked me what this book is about, I might answer "why, you and I, the humans, are great".
Howard Roark is an amazing character, far better than Francisco D'Anconia, John Galt or Henry Rearden. It feels like someone you can identify with and it is impossible not to love. On the other side, Toohey was the best defined villan in the industry of literature. By the end of the book you hate his guts and you want him to die a slow and painful death.
The only "problem" with this book is that there is no real completion. There is no real happy ending. There is only a bitter sweet conclusion. You wish it could go 200 pages more so the fate of one character in special would change. Compared to Atlas Shrugged where these is a finality to everything as everyone either dies, goes insane or simply loses, here it feels like it is missing an act.
The most representative example is Wynand. The good guy gone bad gone good who in some way you feel pity for. In the movie he committed suicide. In the book he doesn't. And by the end of the book, my only concern was with him.
You know how in some books one person sacrifices himself all for the right reason?
You know how in others one person betrays for all the right reasons?
Now combine these two and you will have a tragic character, one that you love and want to hate but you can't.
In any case, that's beside the point of this review. If you consider the human animal is insignificant in front of a god or nature, if you consider that people are equal because of their existence and not competence, if you consider that need comes before competence and that ego is a bad thing, that pride is evil, then DO NOT read this book.
It will just annoy you. This is a book for those who love themselves, who love the best in human nature and who want to celebrate this. It is the American Dream.
There are a few genuine characters who are trying to live real lives without lying to themselves about who they are or what they are experiencing in their process of living, and they are wondering how they will live in the world with so much intentional fakery happening in day-to-day life in their own homes and their own friendships. The story shows how all the phony cowardly people try to persuade the few honest ones to start lying and being fake in order to become "normal". The authentic people live their days wondering how the lying ones can tolerate their own compromise with reality.
The honest ones enjoy their existence no matter what happens in their life or how challenging it becomes, because they live on the level while being genuine with themselves and others. The liars never enjoy their own existence even if they obtain lots of money or prestige, because they know that they gave up on being a real person and gave up on having a real life, and they know that their gains are false.
The philosophy is important. Man is an end in himself, not a means to the ends of others. Ayn Rand’s heroes are those who create, not to confer benefits on others, but for the joy of creation and to benefit themselves. The hero of Atlas Shrugged is Hank Reardon, who invented a new metal. The hero of The Fountainhead it is Howard Roark, who designs useful and graceful buildings. In both cases, third raters with collectivist notions try to expropriate their work for the “public good.” Rand regards that expropriation as tantamount to slavery. Neither of her heroes consents to be enslaved.
These days we constantly hear the phrase “giving back”, not in the sense that a thief returns what he has stolen, but in the sense that someone who has succeeded has a moral obligation to help others. Lawyers must work for free doing “pro bono” work. CEO’s must be ashamed of their compensation. Athletes must be “role models.” This is nonsense. The individual has the right to the fruits of his labor. If he incidentally benefits others (as Henry Ford benefited his workers), fine. But that is not a necessary justification of his work.
Unfortunately in order to get the philosophy the reader must wade through some pretty nutty notions about sex. Howard Roark’s first encounter with the heroine of the book is to rape her. And her response is to try to find him so that he can rape her again! One wonders what Ayn Rand’s sex life was like.
On balance this is a book worth reading. An important book.