Jason’s review of The Fountainhead > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by matt (new)

matt Okay, but what about the book?

message 2: by Sarita (new)

Sarita Perfect. Thanks.

message 3: by Marla (new)

Marla you must member of the intelligentsia.

message 4: by Meredith (new)

Meredith Enos That's hilarious, because I read this book when I was nineteen and thought I had attained enlightenment.

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

You couldn't have captured the experience of reading this book through the years any better than you did.

message 6: by Nicole (new)

Nicole Prestin Omg, yes. That's pretty damn close to my experience with this book. I read her when I was 16 and now I look back with with a mixture of horror and nostalgic fondness. I just can't hate her completely though because she was the spring board for me into a whole world of philosophers and economists - all of whom did it better than her.

message 7: by Jason (new)

Jason Pettus "Horror and nostalgic fondness." I think that's a pretty good way to describe Ayn Rand.

message 8: by Alison (new)

Alison Schmidt FOR SURE. That's it, that's it.

Lillian.laurence lol. thanks for that review. i just finished this after being told for at least 2 years that i should read it...but i think i waited too long. i found the philosophy awful at 23, but i might have loved it at 18.

message 10: by Lillian.laurence (last edited May 04, 2008 10:49AM) (new)

Lillian.laurence Her philosophy is horrifying.

The book is read by many and has been over 60+ years, so from the perspective of being a cultural touchstone for many people, teens or otherwise, and being a good book to spark debate, it is wildly successful; I'm glad it exists. I'm even about to read Atlas Shrugged just to get clearer on her ideas because I reacted so strongly to this one.

I think that it might impress teens who have not learned that cooperation and compromise in business often makes projects better and more interesting, especially if each player is strong and asserts their own perspective while working in conjunction with others. I believe that Rand views compromise and coordination as like mashing strong individuals together into a unrecognizable, faceless, tepid oatmeal of insipid social re-reflections. Like how she describes that building projects that Roarke blows up. But she is wrong. Those people did not actually coordinate on the building, but only socially between themselves and it is possible to throw around ideas on a building that makes something better than one person would design.

There is nothing petty about evaluating her ideas the way she sets them forth. A few points drawn by the masses from her extremes are still going to reflect that extreme. I think what she sets forth and upholds as the best kind of human being is awful. Also, the emotional sado-masochism that runs through it, especially in a book about ideal human beings, gives me the "heebie-jeebies."

message 11: by Melissa (last edited Jul 08, 2008 10:33AM) (new)

Melissa Horrifying? Really?

I feel like you're missing the point a little. First of all, I'm 29 and just read this for the first time. Although I'm not a teenager, I did really love this book. Not to say I'm going to become an Objectivist, but I found the ideas and the story interesting.

Talking about cooperation making things better -- I don't think Rand was pointing out instances where brillant minds join together to create greatness. She's pointing out that one genius mind created something wonderful, and through "cooperation" it was destroyed and made unrecognizable. They added things for the sake of adding things, not to improve or make more useful.

I think being the age I am and working in the corporate world has given me an even deeper understanding of this. When you have a project (creative or otherwise), and then you watch it get destroyed and unnecessarily altered by every executive and department head that thinks he/she needs to make his/her mark on it. It's ridiculous.

The whole "every man is an island" part is fairly depressing to me, and I don't know anyone is able to operate without concern for others' opinions. However... it's not that Roark doesn't want anyone in his life. He just doesn't "need" them. That's the difference. I think it's a positive idea that we could take from this.

message 12: by Alla (new)

Alla Anybody think Rand simply exaggerated to make a point? I mean, take the ideas, dilute them considerably and then you will get something sensible out of it. Otherwise, they are unrealistic, overdone and useless. Without the hyperbolic delivery, it seems, the book would not have made such a good read.
The joke, though, is pretty good, Jason :)

message 13: by Barbara (new)

Barbara you have summed it up perfectly.

message 14: by Shrabonti (new)

Shrabonti I first read Ayn Rand when I was 16 -- it was Atlas Shrugged and not Fountainhead which is the more common first read -- and I remember being quite appalled by it. Before you jump to conclusions, it was not the greatness and hugeness of her ideas that left me appalled, it was more the shoddy writing and characterization. Ok, I admit, at 16 I couldn't have pin-pointed exactly what left a bad taste in my mouth, but I subsequently attempted to read Fountainhead but couldn't finish it and did manage to complete We the People. And over the years, I've developed this theory that the book-reading public can be neatly divided between those who love Ayn Rand and those who detest her, and that it somehow also broadly reveals your outlook towards life and people. It's certainly not for realistic, practical and ultimately cynical people who know only too well how the world works, for sure.

message 15: by Kate (new)

Kate I disliked this book even when I was young!

message 16: by Beth (new)

Beth aw, you gotta go through that rebel "I'm my own person and damned if I'm not always right" stage when you're young. you totally pegged the reading experience, but like most manifestos, I take what's worthy from it, and leave the rest: It's good to believe in yourself. Just don't become petulant when you realize you aren't god's gift to mankind.

message 17: by David (last edited Aug 27, 2008 09:42AM) (new)

David You don't say anything about the book at all here, which is a pity because it is about standing by ones principles in the aesthetic rather than political realm.

Your point about Rand's role in the red scare is a fair one. I was actually reading Dalton Trumbo's "Additional Dialogue" at the same time as I was reading this and for a while I even stopped reading the Fountainhead in "protest" against Rand's role as a "friendly" witness before the UnAmerican Activities Committee.

However, in fairness to Rand, it's worth remembering that she had come to America from Lenin's Soviet Union and was both frightened and appalled to hear people who should have known better describing the Leninist (by then Stalinist) dictatorship from which she had fled as a "Noble Experiment."

Now then, about this book...

message 18: by jordan (new)

jordan Dead on.

message 19: by kendra (new)

kendra you win. i agree completely. gawd, that book made me feel good when i was sixteen.

message 20: by Sierra (new)

Sierra Although I have only read a little about objectivism, I don't disagree with your views about it. It presents the other side of the story but it can be just as extreme as religious dogma.

However, I think it is misleading to extrapolate your view on Rand's overall philosophy into a review on just this book. Many people, like me, will take their personal interpretation of The Fountainhead and apply it very successfully to their lives. I can read Rand's philosophy, atheist quotes, biblical scriptures, etc. just the same.

Too many people think literally, (and that's where the world's conflicts come from) when the story is written not quite realistically with a purpose. It's open to personal interpretation.

message 21: by Sierra (new)

Sierra Shrabonti: "the book-reading public can be neatly divided between those who love Ayn Rand and those who detest her, and that it somehow also broadly reveals your outlook towards life and people. It's certainly not for realistic, practical and ultimately cynical people who know only too well how the world works, for sure."

I agree with this. There are those who accept the world as it is--accept that it happens TO them. And there are those who are here to create. I will never give in.

"The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."~Jack Kerouac

message 22: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth is it possible to get down off of the soapbox long enough to realize what a fantastic STORY this is? it's very well-written, has fully realized characters, and it's obviously made enough of an impact to get a lot of people's panties in a bunch. sometimes the best art is the kind one has the most extreme reactions to... especially if that's the point.

you don't have to subscribe to the philosophy or wish to be best friends with the characters. in fact, it's possible to hate all the characters in a book and still be affected by the story.

and i will say one thing about this "righteous" business. look at all the amazing art that has been done in the past and present - paintings, writings, music... those who created these works had to have the assurance that what they were doing needed to be done their way.
for example, we would not have the mona lisa if davinci had allowed someone to come along and say, "you know, i think her expression is a little ambiguous, so i'm just going to alter the corners of her mouth just a tiny bit so you can really tell she's smiling."

so basically, the idea that the whole world depends on "unending compromise" is utter crap. sometimes people working together is a boon, sometimes it ruins things.

perhaps what you mean at the end there is that you should read this book before you're completely jaded, and angry at the way you've somehow compromised and cooperated yourself into a completely unfulfilled life.

message 23: by David (new)

David Well said Elizabeth. What people don't realize is that unlike the heavily political ATLAS SHRUGGED, this book is about artistic and creative independence. One doesn't have to believe in capitalism to believe in artistic independence and single-mindedness.

message 24: by Ranee (new)

Ranee Wow this does strike a chord with many of this. I thought you were spot on and I don't care if you didn't get into the details of the book, either you've read it or will read it. This was a great review because you are so right, at 19 I had my run in with Objectivism and embraced it like a new religious convert. It made it easy to leave my old religion until I grew up alittle and realized that I didn't agree with the philosophy.

message 25: by Kiernan (new)

Kiernan Pazdar I am sixteen and LOVED this book. This is very intriguing i will certainly read it when I'm older and a bit more "enlightened" shall we say.

message 26: by Roberta (new)

Roberta Whew! I have this on my list of books "to read" but now, especially since I am way, way past my teens, I may have to rethink this.

message 27: by David (new)

David I'll agree with you. Being 16 when I read this, I immediately took to it. But now, only one year later, I see it's flaws. How Rand so selfishly indulged herself in this book with no care of how others would see it. She just wanted her rather absurd philosophy to get heard. And the thing is, a lot of it has ridiculous amounts of merit. She tells you that there is a difference between a creator or a "second hander" but she concludes that the only solution to dealing with these people is by being a prick. That's ridiculous. She speaks of love in selfish ways, and not in a way of loving everyone or of peace or even of happiness. It's a fantastic book, but the reader should think for themselves. I'm 17 now, so obviously I think quite a bit. But I'd recommend this book to anyone, because it certainly gets one to think and analyze how they want to be. Not to mention she is a great writer with compelling characters.

message 28: by elisa (last edited Sep 24, 2009 10:52AM) (new)

elisa *awesome* response, elizabeth.

message 29: by John (new)

John As this review is identical to the one you posted for Atlas Shrugged, I can't help but be left with the impression that you have never actually read either one.

Apparently you are simply regurgitating something you heard at a philosophy seminar at the community college.

message 30: by Alicia (new)

Alicia Goodwin You have a very good point, I did feel enlightened after reading the book at 17, less than two years ago, but now I kind of find that funny. I still enjoyed the book though.

message 31: by Amina (new)

Amina Jason..dude I so agree with you here...this novel can be inspirational for teenagers...but when one gets jolts of reality in one's mid-twenties...as life and this world opens up to you, that is when you cannot worship the philosophy of objectivism! I literally smiled when I read your commentary on it here..it is quite well-thought out and your recommendation: Recommended, but with a caveat; that you read it before you're old enough to know better!

message 32: by Brenda (new)

Brenda Cregor You would be interested in reading the section about objectivism/egoism in the book BEYOND BUMPERSTICK ETHICS.

message 33: by James (new)

James "Rand is so perfect for late teenagers, but why she elicits eye rolls by one's mid-twenties"

Haha, this is exactly what happened to me. Your review is well observed but I have to admit that I still kinda like parts of the Fountainhead for its rejection of conformity vs non-conformity and alternative of plain individuality.

But you could criticise my point by saying that Rand didn't write anything that hadn't been said before if you actually have a good grasp of philosophy - which teenagers generally don't.

message 34: by Swapnil (new)

Swapnil Wonder why you recommend this book to teenagers. It is a book to avoid at any age.

message 35: by Jhannas (new)

Jhannas Interesting review. I started reading this book a year ago but maybe I was too old to get it because I didn't make it many pages in. Regardless, your comments made me smile. Thanks.

message 36: by risha (new)

risha Swapnil wrote: "Wonder why you recommend this book to teenagers. It is a book to avoid at any age."


message 37: by Larry (new)

Larry Bassett I just found out that Alan Greenspan was an admirer of Ayn Rand. Wasn't he older than 16? So what was his excuse? I probably don't want to know about current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, do I?

message 38: by Danny (new)

Danny Maybe if you understood where she was coming from you could understand her attiude. Your right her characters are a--holes. But think of the otherside. She came from USSR where her family buiness was taken over by the government to put it to use for all the people. She had first hand seen the effects of collectivism. For a hard working family like hers socialism sucked. So if she wants to be an a--hole and show those who worship socialism that by taking from the strong to give to the weak, waters down society then good for her.

message 39: by Cristi (new)

Cristi Romney Espinosa At the age of 32, this is my 4th attempt at the book. It's nearly impossible. I thank you for this review which at least tells me I am not alone. However, I will point out tha howarrd Roark is a real man. He exists. As a matter of fact, if my father had not been born on 1941, I would be completely convinced the character was modeled after him. They even have the same initials. My father is exactly that architect and at 71 years of age, he is still determined to design his way or no way. While I have not finished reading, and therefore do not know how his choices affect the rest of his life, I can tell you it's a very real condition. This, by the way, is most likely why I have never been able to finish reading it. Thank you for the encouragement, though. Knowing I am not alone in disliking it is wonderful.

message 40: by Swhite (new)

Swhite Right on Jason!

message 41: by Lars Olav (new)

Lars Olav Tungesvik I'm from Norway. Never heard about Rand before Terry Goodkind talked about her. We had more of Platon, Socrates, Kant on school. Terry Goodkind had some strange interviews. Understand better now why the far right in USA likes her. First time I heard Rand. I taught it was the character from Wheel of Time;)

message 42: by Nikola (new)

Nikola I read your review and wonder what would happen if Kandinsky was still alive and I went to him and asked him to paint me a photorealistic city of skyscrapers. Or if I went to Steve Jobs asking of him to produce a smartphone designed in a way he doesn't like. Or if I went to Vangelis and asked him to compose country music.

Nobody wants to be told how to do their job, so why should Howard Roark? (Seeing how you misspelled his name, I have to ask you if you've even read the book, or just had someone give you a recap?)

message 43: by Miranda (new)

Miranda ouch. I'm 18 right now and love this book. haha. Looks like I'm gonna have to stop singing its praises until I age a few more years and re-read it.

message 44: by C L Parson (new)

C L Parson You wrote, "which according to Rand is because of the vast unwashed masses of the insipid keeping the obvious genius down." No, that is not the point at all. The point is that Roark is willing to make the sacrifices needed to do what he wants to do. Period. He clearly states that in the book. He does not expect a handout. He does not expect anyone to understand or to change. He is going to do what he wants to do and he expects no different from everyone else.

message 45: by Boldwing (new)

Boldwing If you discard the political and economic aspects of the book - it is a gread piece of work that teaches integrity and what it means to adhere to one's principles.

message 46: by Deborah (new)

Deborah This is what I got out of the book: Bureaucracy kills creativity. I'm in my 50's and have discovered that clearly it does. If you haven't worked for the government or for a huge corporation, it might be hard to believe, but it's true.

message 47: by Alvin (new)

Alvin My thoughts exactly. I loved this during high school, but now I've changed my outlook on the book. You're spot on.

message 48: by Nesreen (new)

Nesreen Excellent review!! Totally on point...but I also gave it 3 stars bc it was still an interesting well written book in my opinion :)

message 49: by Ashvajit (new)

Ashvajit Thanks Jason for an excellent, thoughtful, humorous and penetrating review. There remains a question: what comes after 'Objectivism'?

message 50: by Inna (new)

Inna Shpitzberg Exactly!:))

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