THE FOUNTAINHEAD- BOOK REVIEW

The Fountainhead is a 1943 novel by Ayn Rand. It was Rand’s first major literary success and its royalties and movie rights brought her fame and financial security. The book’s title is a reference to Rand’s statement that “man’s ego is the fountainhead of human progress”.
Architectural theme

Rand dedicated The Fountainhead to her husband, Frank O’Connor, and to architecture. She chose architecture for the analogy it offered to her ideas, especially in the context of the ascent of Modern architecture. It provided a convenient vehicle to portray her views — that the individual is supreme, and that selfishness is a virtue.

The Fountainhead’s protagonist, Howard Roark, is a young architect who chooses to struggle in obscurity rather than compromise his artistic and personal vision.

Plot

Howard Roark, a brilliant young architect, is expelled from the Stanton Institute of Technology[1] for refusing to abide by its outdated traditions. He goes to New York City to work for Henry Cameron, a disgraced architect whom Roark admires. Roark’s highly successful but vacuous schoolmate, Peter Keating, also moves to New York to work for the prestigious architectural firm, Francon & Heyer. Roark and Cameron create inspired work, but their projects rarely receive recognition, whereas Keating’s ability to flatter and please brings him almost instant success despite his lack of originality.

Roark closes his office rather than compromise his drawings, and his ideals, to the whims of his clients. He takes a job at a Connecticut granite quarry owned by Guy Francon, whose beautiful, temperamental, and idealistic daughter, Dominique, beguiles Peter Keating.

While Roark is working in the quarry, he encounters Dominique, who has taken an extended holiday in the same town as the quarry. There is an immediate attraction between them, which results in peculiar flirtation and ultimate culmination in what Dominique subsequently describes as “rape”—though her attitude towards the act seems ambivalent.

Ellsworth Toohey, a columnist for The New York Banner and author of the popular column One Small Voice, is an outspoken socialist, who is covertly rising to power by shaping public opinion through his column and his circle of influential associates, and whose quite openly proclaimed designs are not understood or taken seriously. Toohey sets out to destroy Roark through a smear campaign he spearheads at “The Banner.”

Toohey convinces a weak-minded businessman named Hopton Stoddard to hire Roark as the designer for a temple dedicated to the human spirit. Roark designs the temple, with a naked statue of Dominique, which creates the first public outcry against Howard. Toohey further manipulates Stoddard into suing Roark for general incompetence and fraud. At Roark’s trial, every prominent architect in New York (including Keating) testifies that Roark’s style is unorthodox and illegitimate. Dominique defends Roark, but Stoddard wins the case and Roark loses his business again.

That evening, Dominique pays Keating a visit, and makes him a one-time offer of her hand in marriage. Keating accepts, and they are married that evening. Dominique turns her entire spirit over to Peter, hosting the dinners he wants, agreeing with him, and saying whatever he wants her to say. She fights Roark, and herds all of his potential clients over to the slowly weakening Keating.

To win Keating a prestigious architecture commission offered by Gail Wynand, the owner and editor-in-chief of “The Banner”, Dominique agrees to sleep with Wynand. Wynand then buys Keating’s silence and a divorce for Dominique and Keating, after which Wynand and Dominique are married.

Wynand subsequently discovers that every building he likes is done by Roark, so he enlists Howard to build him a home. The home is built, and Howard and Gail become great friends, though Wynand does not know about his past relationship with Dominique.

Now washed up and out of the public eye, Keating realizes he is a failure, and rather than accept retirement, he pleads with Toohey for commission to build the much sought after Cortlandt housing project. Keating knows that his most successful projects were aided by Roark, and he knows Roark is the only person who can design Cortlandt. Roark agrees to design it in exchange for complete anonymity and the agreement that it would be built exactly as he designed.

When Roark returns from a spring-long yacht trip with Wynand, he finds that, despite the agreement, the Cortlandt Homes project has been changed. Roark asks Dominique to distract the night watchman and dynamites the building. The entire country condemns Roark, but Wynand finally finds the courage to follow his convictions and orders his newspapers to defend him. The Banner’s circulation drops and the workers go on strike (spurred on by Toohey), but Wynand keeps printing with Dominique’s help. Eventually after the whole public opinion is against Wynand and all of his staff has left him, he denounces Roark on the suggestion of his board members. At the trial, Roark seems doomed, but he rouses the courtroom with a statement about the value of selfishness and the need to remain true to oneself. The jury finds him not guilty. Roark marries Dominique. Wynand asks Roark to design one last building, a skyscraper that will testify to the supremacy of man and states, “Build it as a monument to that spirit which is yours…and could have been mine.”

The book ends quickly after that with time moved up eighteen months with the Wynand Building well on its way to completion. The last scene follows Dominique (now Mrs. Roark), entering the site and rushing to meet the now vindicated and strong Howard Roark, Architect.

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Published in: on September 14, 2008 at 3:00 pm  Leave a Comment  

WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF CREATORS!!

WHEN SOCIETY BECOMES A SLAVE TO CONVENTION

WHEN MANKIND IS MANNED BY A MONOTANY

A BREED OF PEOPLE STRIVE TO CREATE CHANGE

IT COULD BE A REVOLUTIONARY

OR A WRITER

OR A PHILOSOPHER

BUT MORE OFTEN THAN NOT IT WOULD BE AN

Architect

Welcome to the world of

creators

Welcome to the world of

architecture

Published in: on September 13, 2008 at 2:33 pm  Leave a Comment