The Fountainhead

There are some books in the world which when you read, it just doesn’t seem possible that it came out of some human’s mind. I put The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand in that category. It is also one of those books that any designer in this world must give a read, or for that matter anyone who loves what he does passionately. And well, if you don’t qualify as either, it’s a classic piece of literature that you’ve gotta read! The novel revolves around an individualistic architecture Howard Roark who does what he wants to do the way he wants to do no matter how much suffering he is put through by the society for it. The other prominent characters are Ellsworth M. Toohey (I hate this guy), Dominique Francon, Gail Wynand and Peter Keating.

The novel has reached such heights of greatness, which I think is totally justified, because it paints a picture of reality. What a passionate person actually feels about his art, what the society thinks about something or anything new that challenges their preconceived notions about it, how the “second handers” go about their life, everything that the books reveals is nothing but stark reality. The book though containing a lot of monologues (no one writes a 40 page monologue better than Ayn Rand, I am quoting someone here but don’t remember whom), a lot of descriptions but the pace of the story never slackens. The characterisation of each of the main characters is such that it draws extreme emotions from the reader. These characters make a mark in your heart, and may just haunt you when it comes to an end. And the best thing is there is always this nagging doubt that all of this has actually happened, it just can’t be fiction. And it is in reality based loosely on people that have walked the Earth! Ayn Rand took a lot of inspiration from a lot of people for most of her main characters. Howard Roark was based loosely on the architect Frank Lloyd Wright, Gail Wynand on Newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, and the inspiration for the antagonist comes from British democratic socialist Harold Laski and New York intellectuals Lewis Mumford and Clifton Fadiman.

Although the book is a tough read, the thickness might seem a bit too intimidating, but every page is worth the read. The ideologies presented makes you think and the story itself is extremely inspiring with memorable characters. So devour it if you ever get your hand on it.

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