There are three telling omissions in "The Fountainhead": the first is that, although this is an epic tale, covering several decades in the lives of many characters, there are no babies born, no children reared. I'm afraid a philosophy of selfishness has to go the way of dirty diapers when Baby arrives. The second omission is humor. There are no laughs here. Egoism is a serious business. The third omission, perhaps arising from the first two, is emotional warmth. Ironically, Rand's essentially Humanist (that is, atheistic and anthropocentric) view lacks humanity. Her heroine can only achieve sexual fulfilment through being forcibly raped, her hero's heart and soul are centered on bricks and mortar. This novel will oblige you to think, but will not move you to laugh or cry.
"The Fountainhead" is well written and thought provoking, but in addition to the points I mentioned above, I was left wondering what the problems were supposed to be in relation to the architecture of the time. This was the age of Art Deco and of Frank Lloyd Wright, surely a golden age in American architecture. And is the era of the the Wall Street Crash, the Great Depression and Roosevelt's New Deal really the best advertisement for laissez faire economics?
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The Fountainhead is a 1943 novel by Ayn Rand. It was Rand's first major literary success and its royalties and movie rights brought her fame and financial security. The book's title is a reference to Rand's statement that "man's ego is the fountainhead of human progress."
The Fountainhead's protagonist, Howard Roark, is an individualistic young architect who chooses to struggle in obscurity rather than compromise his artistic and personal vision. The book follows his battle to practice modern architecture, which he believes to be superior, despite an establishment centered on tradition-worship. How others in the novel relate to Roark demonstrates Rand's various archetypes of human character, all of which are variants between Roark, the author's ideal man of independent-mindedness and integrity, and what she described as the "second-handers." The complex relationships between Roark and the various kinds of individuals who assist or hinder his progress, or both, allows the novel to be at once a romantic drama and a philosophical work.
The manuscript was rejected by twelve publishers before a young editor, Archibald Ogden, at the Bobbs-Merrill Company publishing house wired to the head office, "If this is not the book for you, then I am not the editor for you." Despite generally negative early reviews from the contemporary media, the book gained a following by word of mouth and sold hundreds of thousands of copies. The...