Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Fountainhead - by Ayn Rand

Ed: This post was originally made on May 18, 2005 at my blog. This is a reproduction of the same.

Most B-schoolers discover Ayn Rand classic during their MBA preparations. In fact it is probably a matter of prestige for B-schoolers to have 'The Fountainhead' as their favourite book. But I have met quite a few people who call 'The Foutainhead' their favourite just because everyone else does so. By doing so they go against the very philosophy that this book tries to teach. Such people are the living copy of the character - 'Peter Keating'.

Relievingly, I have found many people who have a mind of their own and do not feel ashamed to confess that they either do not understand Rand or the book itself is complete bullshit!

I just completed my 3rd reading of the book. I had failed to complete it 2 times and had to restart every time. After completing the book I felt that the core of the book is the testimony given by Howard Roark (the protagonist of the story) in the court at the end of the story. However, Roark's (or rather Ayn Rand's) ideas are so fundamentally challenging to the dogmas of the society that Ayn Rand had to create a story filled with extremely unnatural characters to explain it.

This is one reason why many people start reading the book but give up in the middle finding the story too absurd or extreme. I myself came very close to being one of such people and know at least two of them.

I feel that such people can read the above mentioned speech and try to understand the concept presented here. I had earlier pasted the text of the speech on my blog but it was too long to be posted here. So I have made good use of my Yahoo! ID which works on all Yahoo! affiliates like geocities by creating a webpage dedicated to Howard Roark's Testimony.


rusty said...

It is not a book to be read, but to be pursued. Once, twice or thrice, no matter how many times you read it, I 'm sure you will find some new aspect to a character/ situation or the story itself. Such books are those where the author's thoughts are revealed in layers with each consequent reading. Thus I encourage you to continue your pursuit of the same...

Prabal Aggarwal said...

hi Nikhil
Its a good review
frankly speaking it took me 1 year to read fountainhead and 2 years to read atlas shrugged
and they have changed my life. Many of my successes and failures can be attributed to these two books. Atlas Shrugged created a total turmoil in my life, which lasted 4 years. But I m to an extent a person who follows one philosophy "Your Heart is born free! Have the courage to follow it!!" By William Wallace. It is the essence of my life. I wanted to write the review of both of them, but it will take me to my past and lot of retrospection, which i m not mentally prepared to undergo right now. But, Its a gr8 favor that u have posted ur review on my bookreview blog.

It will be good discussion in the form of comments.

And hats off to you, coz u have dared to review "FountainHead". But I would like to know, after our continued interaction, you have to tell me one thing that according to you which character I represent, Roark, Keating, Toohey, Dominique.....................

and Just remember these two lines form the essence of my life
"Your Heart is born free!! Have the courage to follow it!! by William Wallace

"If the whole world is against me! I am against them" I dont know who quoted this. May be I think, its my original one.

Keep Posting
PS: IF you can then post the review of Atlas Shrugged also.

shuchita said...

Hi Nikhil,
Nice review and I completely agree with you. I too left this book mid way, frankly speaking found it thoroughly boring the first time. Then my aunt read ( Yes read) out the last testimony by Howard Roark to me and thats when I understood what it was all about. Planning on reading it again now.

Anonymous said...

For an article written in 2005, I am shocked. I don't believe that the Fountainhead, which was written in the late 40s, is hard to understand. Maybe the concept of individualism was groundbreaking then, but this concept is well-known in the 21st century. Have you ever watched Donnie Darko? Have you seen the artistic teenagers who unapologetically dress the way that they do? However, Ayn Rand preaches true individualism and not the fake sort (otherwise, you would be like Peter Keating and that may also be the case of the artistic teenagers). I would understand if you just found the book boring or found some other issue with it. But I resent the comment, "I have found many people who have a mind of their own and do not feel ashamed to confess that they either do not understand Rand or the book itself is complete bullshit!"

The Fountainhead is NOT arcane. It is not that hard to understand, at least fundamentally.