The Fountainhead: A Review

Work is worship.

Ayn Rand has proved the same in this 1943 classic, which can be described as ‘a hymn in the praise of an individual’. She has created a new style of writing with ‘The Fountainhead’ and her a subsequent novel ‘Atlas Shrugged’(1957). Both are valuable pieces of writing, having sold more than 5 million copies each. Rand, a Russian who migrated to the United States, took more than seven years to finish ‘The Fountainhead’. The novel was rejected by 12 publishers, and was finally accepted by the Bobbs- Merill Company and later went on to become an international bestseller.

The novel’s protagonist, Howard Roark is not the most loved person. He is not even the most liked person. But his strength lies in his belief of being indifferent to all except his work. He is the a compulsive dreamer, a man so honest, that he has never been affected by the frivolities of the world. His behavior may come across as rude, but his mindset is clear, as he aims to breakthrough the conventions of the world. He is honest, and blunt. A man so emotionally strong and content that work gives him the ultimate joy.
On the other hand, we have Peter Keating, frivolous and close minded. His main aim is to achieve success by hook or by crook. Unlike Howard, he is not a dreamer and thus gains popularity by being the superior’s pet or by diluting the importance of others.
Rand has created the plot of such a serious novel with love, ego, jealousy and passion, all well balanced. Dominique (Howard’s love), Gail Wynand, and Toohey make a mark as their characters have been uncompromisingly described.
This book is the ultimate classic. Telling the story of a hard working and never compromising Howard Roark, who is trialed by his school, his superiors, his love and the law. Affected only by his work and love, he emerges as the ultimate winner at in the end. Ayn Rand, teaches the reader to dream and be the most honest with his work. Drawing a contrast between Howard and Peter, the author justifies Peter’s selfishness as his weakness, and in the end, the reader is filled not with hatred, but with deep pity for him. It is the writer’s passion for her work that is reflected in through Roark’s character.
Drawing out very simple, but true images of the characters, their described physical appearances explains their nature. The book is easy to read but lengthy. Portraying different types of people from the different walks of life, all in a single maze, is defintely a triumph for the author. A change from the usual, melodramatic tales of the rich and beautiful, the blatant honesty of this book help the reader introspect and think of the superficialities of the world. The book is a 600 page journey in the life of Howard Roark, where you identify with him, laugh with him, work with him, cry with him, and win with him.

This book is a work of fiction, but has been influenced by people’s behavior and leanings.
Ayn Rand manages to astonish the reader with her boldness in writing, and simplicity in reasoning. She is truly a master of words, thought and of course, the creator of a legend.

Tanvi Lall

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