Book Review- “The Fountainhead” by Ayn Rand

The Fountainhead Nithin Kurian  |   2 mins read August 17, 2021 | 32 | 209 eye icon

“The Fountainhead” is a 1943 novel written by Russian American author Ayn Rand. The story revolves around architect Howard Roark and his struggles against what has been commonly accepted as good architecture and his refusal to be just another person in the crowd. The story looks at how society forms its perception about various aspects of life be it art or politics, the role people of influence have over the masses, the roots of mass psychology and collectivism, and the power of the individual over such forces to create something new and inspirational.

The novel creates a complex arena for the protagonist with characters of various shades, having different personal motives and agendas. We are introduced to Howard’s classmate Peter Keating who conforms to societal expectations and as a result, gains short-term success, but always looks to Howard when he faces challenges in his professional life. We also see Ellsworth Toohey who is one of the more interesting characters in the novel. Toohey, an architecture critic by profession, tries to influence the collective mind to not accept Howard’s work and rather praise Keating even though he knows that Howard is certainly a more gifted architect. The author has succeeded in creating real-world characters that have very complex motives and may even do certain things just because they can. Of course, the book is incomplete without Dominique Francon who is Howard’s lover and secretly wants his non-conformist ideas to be accepted by society but due to her own inability to accept those original and creative ideas, has no chance of winning, alternates between helping Howard and undermining him. 

The narrative is Rand’s portrayal of the ideal man, a man of virtue and integrity. The novel demonstrates several instances where Howard could have abandoned his vision for fame and success, but he refuses at every turn to let go of what he believes is the truth, even at the risk of losing his name and career. This book is a true ode to the man who is never ready to give up his individuality and his vision even against the mighty forces of collectivism and the opportunity for acceptance, conformity, and fame.

Nithin Kurian
Program Leader- Uniathena
Athena Global Education

Nithin Kurian is an innovator and Design Thinker with experience in operations, customer success and consultancy in the Education and Information Technology sector, having worked in both corporate and startup environments. He envisages the growth of Ed-Tech ecosystems using human centered design and the efficient use of technology.

 

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