The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

Review by Tejas Jayasheel

Are you depressed? Does alcohol seem to be the right solution for your situation? Then go ahead and read The Fountainhead once. You only have to read a few chapters to know what the epilogue will be. Still, you will read it because by then you would have already understood that this is going to be a life changing book.

The name Ayn Rand is largely heard among the circles of philosophers which by all means I avoid, but this name stands out among the best of the best. She is one of the few female authors to make an unmistakable mark in the world of literature. With two books, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, she might have inspired thousands to follow their dreams.

Howard Roark gets kicked out of college, while Peter Keating graduates with honours from the same institution. They both stay under the same roof in Keating’s house. While the first dreams and decides to become an architect, the latter asks Howard for an opinion. They both move to New York and each starts working for two different firms. Howard chooses a modernist who thinks like him and Peter chooses a successful architectural firm.

Though it is an obvious ‘Hero wins in the end’ type of a story, this book stands out because the struggle and the attitude with which Howard faces the problems would inspire any man. Though works as an architect, though being a good architect, he gets cast aside while Peter Keating is brought into limelight by the society. At one point of time, Howard can’t afford to pay bills and starts working under Peter. He takes bad remarks from everyone, but would refuse to deviate from his principles.

“The quest for self-respect is proof of its lack”.

“People want nothing but mirrors around them. To reflect them while they’re reflecting too. Reflections of reflections and echoes of echoes. No beginning and no end. No center and no purpose.”

“No speech is ever considered, but only the speaker. It’s so much easier to pass judgement on a man than on an idea.”

A few more quotes from this book would be sufficient to send someone who has already finished it and swore never to touch it again, running back to it. I often see my friends posting quotes from Ayn Rand and they are relevant even after more than 50 years. The book literally preaches individuality and you will like it. Ego is no longer something that is considered bad but a part of you. You notice a change in your attitude and the way you perceive your life. Your respect towards men of importance automatically reduces and the words they mouthed gain new interest.

You will cry. You will fill yourself with rage. You will stand in front of the window and watch the beauty of midnight. Because this book, once read will not allow you to sleep. That is the greatest power a book can ever possess. To outlive the author and continue to change the lives of readers is a unique ability that so far, I haven’t seen in any book.

Considering the style of writing, again it’s unique. The story has 5 main characters – Howard Roark, Peter Keating, Dominique Francon , Gail Wynand and Ellsworth Toohey. You will be surprised when you are half way through the book and still don’t know what to describe of the last two characters.

I do not throw the phrase ‘life changing’ a lot. It is not very often that I go reading something that does not have the slightest hint of humor in it. In fact, it is only for Fountainhead that I broke my rule. I don’t regret it even for a minute. Go read it. I promise even you won’t regret your decision.

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