by Ayn Rand
“I came here to say that I do not recognize anyone's right to one minute of my life. Nor to any part of my energy. Nor to any achievement of mine. No matter who makes the claim, how large their number or how great their need…. It had to be said. The world is perishing from an orgy of self-sacrificing....” — Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead;
Ayn Rand began writing her best seller on June 26, 1938. It was published in 1943 and by the summer of 1945 it was on the bestseller lists and has remained in print ever since. I have always enjoyed reading books about heroes and this was one of my favorite discoveries. When I was in high school I read this story of Howard Roark and in it found a representative of individualism with whom I could identify.
In lucid direct prose Ayn Rand narrates a story of an architect with principles who will defer to no one in the pursuit of his life goals. The basic conflict is between Roark as an exemplar of egoism who uses his reason to judge for himself contrasted with the character of Peter Keating who is a"second-hander", that is one who bases his life on the opinions of others. She creates characters who represent principles of good and evil including one of the most evil characters in literature in the person of Ellsworth Toohey, a man who manipulates others into giving up that which they hold most dear. While Roark suffers, especially due to the machinations of Toohey, he is ultimately vindicated and stands as a hero to all who choose to think and create and produce.
The novel is written in a clear and lucid style that belies the Romanticism inherent in the story-line. If you have enjoyed The Count of Monte Cristo or the works of Victor Hugo you will like The Fountainhead.