The Fountainhead is about an architect, Howard Roark, who lives his passion. He struggles in the hands of cavalier men who suppress his vision and the art he submits himself to, that which the orthodox public look down upon and call Modern Architecture. It follows his complex relationship with different people, making it a romance and a philosophical work at the same time. The romance may not be Elizabeth-Darcyesque but is one that stays with you much after you have turned the last page. Even the philosophy tends to stick. Objectivism and individualism are so utterly beautifully related that you begin to believe in them from the core of your being. The size of the book is endearing, the language is overpowering, and the philosophy it encompasses is life changing. It is said Atlas Shrugged is Rand’s best work. Atlas definitely shrugged for me, while I read The Fountainhead. A five, obviously.
<Edit: 2017 (approx. 5-6 years since I read and reviewed this book)>
Atlas seems to have shrugged again, albeit at a monstrously slow pace, with the reading of works by Marx, Adam Smith, Nehru, Gandhi, Ambedkar, Amartya Sen etc. The sad fact of this book is that Rand has used the instrument of fiction to propose an intellectual argument for free markets. She has been unsuccessful at that. To further her argument, though, she played a lot of ideological music into her somewhat gullible young readers (me included). If I could, for reasons other than appreciation of the art of writing, I would reduce the “rating” of the book due to this underlying glamour of the book. However, I’m happy to say that the “shrug” to the right has been reverted for me, personally. Today I stand somewhat at the centre, holding a studied distance from the fanaticism of Howard Roark and John Galt (of Atlas Shrugged). Hence, for providing me with an insight to how far an ideologically charged argument can push me, I am glad I read (and appreciated) the book. I will beware next time.
Nevertheless, for its creative fiction and strength of writing, The Fountainhead continues to be rated at 5/5. May you enlighten more youngsters, Rand! Lessons learned from mistakes are far more powerful, aren’t they?