The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand Book Review

downloadAmong the best writer and philosopher to have ever lived on the face of the earth, in the 20th Century, Any Rand has logically, ingeniously and brilliantly crafted the Fountainhead making it a work of extinguishable genius, dazzling wit, and unrivalled style. Even after 12 rejections from different publishers, the book eventually saw the light of the day, and ended up selling millions of copies throughout the world through the word of mouth.

I have to admit this book has had a huge impact on me, both as a writer and a person. If there was one author I wish to have met in person is Any Rand, her work makes the mind to soar with wonderful philosophical concepts about life, for this book expostulates everything that I have always wanted to write and read. It narrates the life of Howard Roark as an architect, from his expulsion from Stanton Institute of Technology, to the time he is finally reprieve from dynamiting the Cortladt Housing Project. It also concurrently develops other characters rather brilliantly, I might add, like Peter Keating, Dominic Francon, Gail Wynand, Guy Francon, Henry Cameron, Catherine, Steven Mallory, Ellsworth M. Toohey, Alvah Scarret, Gordon L. Prescott, John Erick Snyte, Austen Heller, Lucius N. Heyer, Lois Cook, Mrs. Keating, among other characters.

Events as they Unfold in Fountainhead by Ayn Randdownload (1)

Howard Roark is expelled from Stanton because of his unique architectural design that challenges and does not imitate the great style of the Renaissance and other modernistic designs that are currently being emulated in the construction of houses. He is asked by the Principle to reflect deeply on what he is doing and change his approach, as nobody will ever let him build any of his designs, he declines and as a result expelled, while Peter Keating graduates as the best student in Stanton, and he is offered a position in Francon & Heyer, Architects by Guy Francon, who is a guest of honour in the graduation ceremony.

Keating leaves for New York and starts working for the prestigious firm, as Guy Francon becomes fond of the young architect, while Roark goes to work for Henry Cameron, who is the first architect to ever design new revolutionary buildings that do not conform to the status quo of the country; as a result, his firm is heavily criticized and loses many contracts. Among his greatest construction is the Dana Building, which, though one of the kind, the public under the shadow of the New York Banner owned by Guy Francon, disapproves of its excellent, and barely gives its praise worth.

Henry Cameron’s firm is struggling, as it turns down offers to construct certain buildings that do not fall in line with its principles; Cameron is too passionate and loves his work immensely, Roark obeys every order given by Cameron. He learns a lot, doesn’t question anything, and does not leave even when the firm closes down and Cameron dies. He reopens the firm under a new name: Roark Howard, the Architect while keeping close touch with Cameron until his death. On the other hand, Keating through scheming, climbs up the ladder of success making his career to grow in reaps and bonds. He keeps contact with Catherine, his lover, whose uncle is Ellsworth M. Toohey, who he greatly admires.

One day a competition to build the Cosmo-Slotnick Building is announced, Keating comes to Roark pleading him to help him design the building, for it is a chance that will exponentially develop his career and finally make him a partner of the firm, as Lucius N. Heyer is sick, and barely comes to office. Roark agrees and does not ask for anything in return; other than the building is built as the way it appears in the design. As it fate would have it, Keating wins. Ellsworth M. Toohey, the public, and Guy Francon is pleased with him. He considers him as a partner in the firm. As Keating is heavily ambitious and excited by this, he plots the death of Lucius N. Heyer, only for him to later learn that the diseased had written a will stating that Keating would inherit everything he owned, including his share in Francon & Heyer, Architects, he feels devastated by this, but he accepts the will. He becomes instated as a partner in the firm and it is hence know as Francon & Keating Architects. Keating becomes very famous and the best of friends with Ellsworth M. Toohey.

Meanwhile Roark’s firm closes down after a few commissions, as he only accepts to work with companies and individuals who do not alter his original design and is built as it is. He gains a new friend, Austen Heller, who tries to vouch for him to his friends, but since his buildings are unique and awfully different from any other in the country, and do not imitate the current dry Renaissance trend of what other architects are doing, he does not get any commissions. Keating visits him one day and asks him to come and work in his firm, he accepts, only to quit afterwards, when he is told to alter the design of a building he had designed by Guy Francon. He leaves New York and goes to work in a mine. In the same period, other events happen like the shooting of Ellsworth M. Toohey by Steven Mallory; the meeting of Dominic Francon with Keating and he proposing to her, but she rejects him though he is still in a relationship with Catherine; the call out for architects to apply to build the Enright House; Dominic leaving work for holiday and goes to her father’s house in the country, among other events.

While working in the mine, Dominic notices Roark, and she is fascinated by him; there is a quality in him that she finds very attractive. She adores his callous nature, and she makes her move. In the end Roark rapes her, but she terribly loves and enjoys the ordeal. She becomes a totally different person. The following day Roark receives a letter from Roger Enright to build the Enright House, he departs for New York. Dominic learns of his departure a day after, she feels confounded, as she barely knows his name, yet she loves him dearly. She returns back to work in the New York Banner.download (3)

Roark career takes a new turn with new commissions such as the Heller house, the Aquitania hotel, the Manhattan Bank, but not with enemies such as Ellsworth M. Toohey, who is bent on killing his career. He comes up with a plan to slay his profession. He advises his friend Hopton Staddard to pick Roark to build The Hopton Staddard Temple of the Human Spirit, and then to go on a spiritual voyage for a year and return when the construction is complete. Roark agrees. Toohey hires a PR person to make noise to the public about this magnificent Temple of the Human Spirit that Howard Roark is building. This works, the public takes a keen attention. Meanwhile Roark and Dominic become lovers, though she lets him know that she will do anything within her power to ruin his career and take away commissions, she works hand in hand with Toohey and greatly helps Keating to win new commissions.

When the Temple of the Human Spirit is complete, and is announced ready for public opening, Hopton Staddard stops the event and takes Roark to court for malpractice claiming that what he designed was not what he wanted. He wins the case. Toohey does his best to slander Roark in the New York Banner, while Dominic changes her approach and decides to defend him; she loses her job, and gets married to Keating thereby cutting contact with Roark. The court case hurts Roark career, but he survives. For the next one year, a dry spell follows and nobody builds, many architecture firms suffer and close down. But not Roark. He continues to grow despite of what has transpired. Another plot to ruin him is mastered and he is commissioned to build a summer resort at Monadnock Valley, by Mr. Caleb Bradley and company. He agrees. Save for he takes caution though Steven Mallory is always afraid. The project becomes a success, and rather than being a fail, as it was designed to be a scam. Roark does not get involved in the messy court case, ironically, this makes him more famous, and he gets more new commissions.

Dominic gets married to Gail Wynand, after divorcing Keating. Guy Francon retires from the firm and Keating takes in a new partner, Neil Dumont. The firm is now known as Peter Keating & Cornelius Dumont. He signs the contract to build Stoneridge, the project that has caused the end of his marriage. All this is facilitated by Ellsworth M. Toohey. Keating becomes disillusioned, unhappy and gains weight. He asks his mother to move in with him again. His firm slowly by slowly start to lose contracts; he also loses favour from the public.

Fascinated by Roark’s work, Gail Wynand requests to see him in person. From the time they meet, they become the best of friends. Roark builds a home for him and his wife Dominic in the countryside, while Gail finds commissions for him. Everything changes, the New York Banner starts to portray Roark in a new light, praising his work and describing him as the greatest architect of the century. Everything goes on smoothly until Keating comes to Roark pleading him to design the Cortladt Housing Project for him, so as to save his career. Roark agrees, but on condition that the design is not altered and built exactly as it appears. They sign a simple agreement. Keating wins the project, and this saves his firm, as now he is almost closing shop. Roark and Gail go for a long sea cruising, only to return and find that the Cortladt Housing Project is not built as it was designed. Roark Dynamites the project, and is arrested and changed for the crime. Gail bails him out. The Banner tries hard to defend him, but Toohey maps out a strike when he is fired, orders the Banner to stop defending Roark, and he be reinstated as a writer in the newspaper, together with his friends. This cripples the New York Banner, until Gail gives in, and the paper starts to tarnish Roark’s name.

Dominic leaves Gail, and he divorces her. Roark wins the court case. Toohey finds himself with no work immediately after his reinstatement when the Banner is bought off by Clarion– which is also one of Gail Wynand papers – and when he applies for the said paper; he is shocked to find Gail as the boss. He ends up with no job. Keating firm closes down, he regrets for not marrying Catherine when he bumps into her. She no longer fancies him, he is left all alone. Roark marries Dominic. Gail contracts Roar to build the Wynand Building, New York Greatest building.

Howard Roark, the Ideal Man in the Fountainhead by Ayn Randdownload (4)

Ayn Rand philosophy of objectivism depicts Howard Roark as an ideal man, who is unmoved by the masses and lives only to create his work. He is an original, a creator, unlike other people who are second-handers. He is the perfect man, who lives to design and construct buildings; he does not compromise his work for money or anything of the sort, his purpose in life is to excel in his field, to make a difference in architecture and not merely follow what other people are doing. He is a man I would wish to become.

The problem with the world is that people are not thinkers, they are leaches that feed on other people’s invention and work. Howard Roark says:

“That, precisely, is the deadliness of second-handers. They have no concern for facts, ideas, work. They’re concerned only with people. They don’t ask: ‘Is this true?’ They ask: ‘Is this what others think is true?’ Not to judge, but to repeat. Not to do, but to give the impression of doing. Not creation, but show. Not ability, but friendship. Not merit, but pull. What would happen to the world without those who do, think, work, produce? Those are the egotists. You don’t think through another’s brain and you don’t work through another’s hands. When you suspend your faculty of independent judgment, you suspend consciousness. To stop consciousness is to stop life. Second-handers have no sense of reality. Their reality is not within them, but somewhere in that space which divides one human body from another. Not an entity, but a relation–anchored to nothing.

The second-handers have no purpose, vision or goal in life. What they believe in is what others believe in, what they do is not dictated by reason, rather than what others want them to do. They are the worse kind of people as they follow, and believe whatever they are told. They never ask questions: they are living zombies, and the world is full of them. These are the kind of people who would never dream to question the government or authority; they just follow blindly like dogs: theirs is to tag along, not to think. They are the worst people on earth: they are the damned! These are the kind of people that Roark tries to fight, they criticize his work, and make it almost impossible for him to work, not that they have any special reason behind it, simply because he does not follow their emptiness, what they believe in, does not conform to their standards, does not seek their approval, and does not care what they think.

Howard Roark is a man who has risen above inconsequential narrow-mindedness, he cares very little of what the world thinks; he follows his thoughts, passion, carefully applying logic to everything he does. He never spends a single moment thinking of how the world perceives him, or whether it will accept his work. He is willing to die for his cause. He is independent to himself and does not seek endorsement from others. He is happy with himself. He notes that all happiness is private, rather than public, nobody can take that from you. This, however, is not what we have been taught, he says:

‘Every form of happiness is private. Our greatest moments are personal, self-motivated, not to be touched. The things which are sacred or precious to us are the things we withdraw from promiscuous sharing. But now we are taught to throw everything within us into public light and common pawing. To seek joy in meeting halls. We haven’t even got a word for the quality I mean–for the self-sufficiency of man’s spirit.’

There is a problem, he observes with the world, that men have been taught to seek happiness in public and not find it in personal contentment, in the things they do for themselves, in the ideas they have about themselves, the world and life, in the things they love, and in the work they do. Men have been deceived that they only way for them to be happy is through others, through self sacrifice. This is the greatest lie ever told to humanity.

download (2)Howard Roark Philosophy of Individualism over Collectivism in the Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

The major problem with the world is that men have been taught to sacrifice the self, the ego for the sake of others. But they must realize:

‘There is no such thing as a collective brain. There is no such thing as a collective thought.’

Man must think and act as an individual. He must reason alone, as no man can use his brain to think for another: he must be his own creator. He must be creative by himself alone, and not as a group. We have been taught that man is a social being, but that only applies to his relation to other men, but not for his internal thought, his creative process. We have been taught that man cannot survive by himself, but the truth is that man can live by himself; he is an independent cell that can foster its own reality. We have been taught to sacrifice the ego, the self, to suffer for others, but what we must note is that this is the creation of a master and slave relationship. Where there is sacrifice, there is someone who is benefiting and another suffering. We must abolish this kind of thinking, as man in independent of himself, and not of others.

The collective only hurts the individual, it tells the individual to give up his rights and act as per the laws of the collective, the majority; it tells the individual to give up material wealth and sacrifice pleasure to follow religion; it tells the individual not to think for himself, and just follow what already exists, it, in short, makes the individual a slave of the collective. The individual, however, should realise:

‘The moving force is the creative faculty which takes this product as material, uses it and originates the next step. This creative faculty cannot be given or received, shared or borrowed. It belongs to single, individual men. That which it creates is the property of the creator. Men learn from one another. But all learning is only the exchange of material. No man can give another the capacity to think. Yet that capacity is our only means of survival.

Man, over the years, has been taught to believe in the lie of altruism. He has been taught that suffering for others will make him happy. He has been taught to give and sacrifice his things for others, but he must understand that one cannot give that which he does not have, for one to give, one has to create. Creating is the power of the reasoning individual; he has to create before distributing. For the individual is taught not to create by the collective, but to serve others, he ends up as a slave. But he must know this is a relationship of a parasite and a host, a slave and a master:

‘The basic need of the creator is independence. The reasoning mind cannot work under any form of compulsion. It cannot be curbed, sacrificed or subordinated to any consideration whatsoever. It demands total independence in function and in motive. To a creator, all relations with men are secondary.

‘The basic need of the second-hander is to secure his ties with men in order to be fed. He places relations first. He declares that man exists in order to serve others. He preaches altruism.

‘Altruism is the doctrine which demands that man live for others and place others above self.

‘No man can live for another. He cannot share his spirit just as he cannot share his body. But the second-hander has used altruism as a weapon of exploitation and reversed the base of mankind’s moral principles. Men have been taught every precept that destroys the creator. Men have been taught dependence as a virtue.

The lie of altruism has preached to men that it is a virtue to agree with others, that the ego is a synonym of evil, and being selfless is the highest virtue on earth. It portrays the thinking individual as evil, and fights anything that he creates, it lets him knows that it is against the law of the collective to create anything. Nonetheless, the creator is an egoist; he neither exists for another man but himself, nor asks another to, he stands above everything. He does not believe in the philosophy of altruism, which is preached by the second-hander, who wishes to take advantage of him and use him like a slave. He is a man of himself: A man not of the world, but a man who shapes the world. He lives to do and achieve what he wants; he does not sacrifice anything for anyone. He does not seek to control or rule other men. He believes in personal freedom. This is the kind of person we need today.

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