Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Fountainhead

By Ayn Rand
This book has the charming quality of being relevant in ever era, society and business. The book's title is a reference to Rand's statement that "man's ego is the fountainhead of human progress".
This is a book that you would be tempted to visit time and again inspite of the fact that it is not one of you feel good books. What it does for you is make you question your life and the rules that you live it by.
The novel pursues the life of Howard Roark, an individualistic young architect and the people (Dominique Francon, Gail Wynand, Peter Keating and Ellsworth Toohey) that he interacts with. The stories dramatise the life of Roark (a character that is believed to be moulded after the famous and larger-than-life Frank Lloyd Wright an American architect). Roark is someone who chooses to struggle in obscurity rather than compromise his artistic and personal vision; a quality that makes him unique.
"I don't intend to build in order to have clients" Roark tells the Dean of Stanton Institute of Technology Architecture School for refusing to abide by its outdated traditions and later is expelled from the school "I intend to have clients in order to build."
This amazing self-belief in his dreams/beliefs/convictions is the quintessential of everything that this book symbolises. A paragon of veracity, he denies to fashion buildings that are not in sync with his sense of aesthetics. He chooses instead to work as laborer till he can find funding for his own projects. Later he becomes involved with wealthy Dominique a woman who combines attitude with a strong belief in openness.
Roark accepts a commission to build a public-housing project provided that no changes are made to his radical design. When a team of architects is employed to humanise his work, the enraged architect blows up the entire complex…(to give away any more details— whether he faces the trail, is punished or not would be unfair…you need to read this novel to know what happens)!

Roark has never been frightened of or moved by public-opinion; he signifies time and again that it is his building that is paramount to him the most and not what others think of him and his work. Wynand (a powerful newspaper mogul) 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."

Some Interesting facts:
* The Fountainhead was made into a Hollywood film in the year 1949 with Gary Cooper in the lead role of Howard Roark, and a screenplay by Rand herself. A MUST SEE MOVIE—it is one of those rare films that does justice to the book it is based on (definitely a collector’s item).
* The book was rejected by twelve publishers before a young editor, Archibald Ogden, at the Bobbs-Merrill Company publishing house wired to the head office, "If this is not the book for you, then I am not the editor for you." Despite generally negative reviews from the contemporary media, the book gained a following by word of mouth and sold hundreds of thousands of copies.
For detailed information on Ayn Rand and her works you can refer to the following link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayn_Rand