Rating: 3 stars
Rating: 3 stars
“My dear fellow, who will let you?”
“That’s not the point. The point is, who will stop me?”
Marta Thinks: Howard Roark is a young architect who believes modern architecture is the intellectual culmination of architecture and vastly superior over classical and traditional architecture. This viewpoint goes against the opinion of the both the public and professionals and The Fountainhead therefore follows Roark’s struggle in exposing his artwork to a world where it is largely scorned. Alongside Roark, there are four other essential characters: Peter Keating, a vapid architect who moves up the social ladder due to his sycophantic nature; the mercurial and passionate journalist Dominique Francon; Gail Wynan, owner of a famous newspaper who yearns to be more, and Ellsworth Tooheny, who seeks to undermine Roark at every step. Each character meets Roark and each one is deeply and profoundly disturbed by him because, according to Ayn Rand, he is the ideal man. Indeed, Roark fully embodies her philosophy of promoting individualism and selfishness (which Rand believes is a virtue, while selflessness is a vice).
The Fountainhead itself seems to mirror Roark’s architecture: neat and straight-forward but almost coldly impersonal, detached from the reader, almost as if going, “This is how I am and I don’t care what you think.” It leaves you a bit reeling, a little overwhelmed, though not emotionally moved. But this is exactly why I think it is worth recommending — because it makes you think. You might not end up agreeing with Ayn Rand’s views or find Roark admirable (I, personally, did not) but that hardly matters. What matters is that a book has violently challenged you and you’re going to have to defend yourself. So while The Fountainhead might not the best book I’ve ever read, it has certainly been the most interesting.