Mike (the Paladin)'s Reviews > The Fountainhead

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
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Apr 02, 2012

liked it
bookshelves: classics

***** SECOND REVIEW ********

As promised I took a second look at this book, I will leave the original review below this one.

I still find the rape scene in this book repulsive, even though AR wrote once that "if it was rape it was rape by engraved invitation." I point out that Dominique herself CALLED it rape. She goes on about her own self loathing and wanted to shout out that she had been raped. Dominique is painted as a character so world weary and despising of society that she could only (finally) be aroused by a man who could "take her". Both Dominique and Roark are described as having condescension and violence as "positive" traits.

Okay, so I waded through this huge pretentious, self congratulatory, patronizing tomb. Having read more than this by AR I've got to say that while she hits the nail squarely on the head in some ways she takes the hard lessons life taught her and gets many wrong answers (not all wrong, but many wrong, at least in my opinion). To her compassion is the same as weakness. The word "compassion" has nothing but negative connotations. She cannot (and I truly believe it's "cannot" as well as "will not") see the difference in willingly giving help as opposed to being compelled by law to give up your living to those who "won't" work. The fact that there are many (and I admit possibly even most) who when given help will simply do nothing but keep asking for a hand-out extrapolates out for her that ever giving help is simply enabling loafers. She saw all unselfishness as weakness and all who acted unselfishly as hypocrites.

One can only wonder how she would have looked at Mother Teressa...probably as a weak dupe...or the world's greatest con-person who never got caught?

Personally I like Atlas Shrugged better as far as an actual novel goes. Dominique is such an odd personality that while I know AR was basing the character on herself, she was just too odd. I mean am I the only one who finds a woman who can't get aroused unless she's physically assaulted as a protagonist a little troubling? Oh well, beating a dead horse I suppose.

The book has good points and AR is a good writer of prose, at times, but not consistently, at least that's my take. I will raise the rating to 3 stars, mainly because the 1 star rating was a visceral reaction to a scene where the male protagonist rapes the female protagonist.

************** Original review below this line *******************

How do I rate this book??? I believe that while Ms.Rand has some huge holes in her reasoning she also had some insights. I think this is a book everyone should take a look at (especially now). I would hope we can differentiate between the valuable and the dross. Read this book (and her other works) with an open and also a critical mind. She has some important insights into human nature and the way humans think and the way the world actually works. She simply carries some of it to a place where it doesn't apply. For example, those who produce will come to a point where they will stop alloying themselves to be stripped of the rewards of their work and thought, it's human nature. On the other hand her view of those who need help and the spiritual side of life are somewhat wanting. she seems to be heavily influenced by Nietzsche.

I prefer Atlas shrugged to this novel. You can see Ms. Rand in the heroines of both books. In Atlas Shrugged she (Dagny Taggart) "trades up" in her romantic relationships each time she meets a "stronger" man who better exemplifies Ayn Rand's ideal (representing her philosophy "objectivism"). In this book, the heroine (Dominique Francon) is or "appears to be" raped by the "strong hero" Howard Roark. I say "appears to be" because even though to many readers and reviewers of the book at it's publication and since it is an obvious rape (and that includes me) Ms. Rand wrote that "if it was rape, it was rape by engraved invitation." I found this so distasteful that I completely lost my taste for this book and put it down.
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04/08 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-17 of 17) (17 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

I can see I need to read this book again. I last read it in 1975 and have forgotten most of it. What interesting observations you make.

Mike (the Paladin) In this book I couldn't get by (and dropped the rating to 1 star because of) the "rape" scene. Rand denied it was such or (said) if it was it was "rape by engraved invitation", but I found it repugnant. I have considered rereading it and "getting past" that scene, I did find some redeeming characteristics in Atlas Shrugged, but it just hasn't seemed worth it.

message 3: by [deleted user] (last edited Jun 11, 2010 07:03PM) (new)

I don't even remember that. My friend Ann likes these books.

The rape scene that makes me angry is the one in Penmarric. I get so mad! Yet I keep reading that book. I have high blood pressure so I need to stay calm so I don't have an apolectic fit. (is that spelled right?) The old word for a stroke. I do need to be somewhat careful what I read. I read Wuthering Heights again for the second time so I could answer questions on the quiz and got livid. At age 16 I thought that book was romantic! When I read The Remains of the Day it was the same. Absolute fury! Not good for me. I need to mainly stay calm and centered. Tai Chi is good that staying centered. Haven't done my DVD or video lately. You are probably able to stay calm?

Mike (the Paladin) "Apoplectic" I believe.... :)

I have high blood pressure also, I always say that I could go into my doctor's office with a sucking chest wound and he'd still check my blood pressure first. Keeps me on 4 meds. I have my "hot buttons" also. So far I don't think I've endangered my pressure though. I hope not anyway. :)

message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

I think that although over 6 million copies of the work of Ayn's has been sold, few readers grasp the full meaning of the 'novel'. Perhaps because there are so few men or women who possess the character of Howard Roark. Ayn Rand has taken the ideal man and shed light on him as opposed to the character of man in general. She bares for us the 'man who couldn't be', 'the man who could have been', against Howard. To say that Nietzsche influenced her style may have been true to an extent however because of her labors on this novel she shuns Nietzche and his ideas because of how the novel unfolds discovering that his ideas were far different from her own. Bottom line? This novel clearly is one of man's ideals and integrity versus collectivism, which is all too common especially today.

message 6: by [deleted user] (last edited Jun 11, 2010 10:04PM) (new)

Ann wrote: "I think that although over 6 million copies of the work of Ayn's has been sold, few readers grasp the full meaning of the 'novel'. Perhaps because there are so few men or women who possess the cha..."

I definitely have to read it again and think about what you say here. I never understood Nietzsche. I had a friend in college who seemed to understand him and killed himself. It was too sad as he was so bright. Then I decided I would ignore existentialism to the best of my ability.

message 7: by [deleted user] (new)

Mike wrote: ""Apoplectic" I believe.... :)

I have high blood pressure also, I always say that I could go into my doctor's office with a sucking chest wound and he'd still check my blood pressure first. Keep..."

Yes, that is the right spelling. Thanks! I am on two bp pills one in the morning and one at night. The one at night causes my ankles to swell which makes me upset sometimes the left ankle hurts so much I cannot walk on it. I asked to get off it but they say I cannot. My uncle was on 4. Taking lots of vitamin C, magnesium and eating garlic can help. I do as much alternative stuff as I can. I also have too much iron in my body....ferritin 640 which causes high blood pressure and heart attack. Have you had your ferritin checked? Read The Iron Elephant or Iron overload soemthing like that.

Mike (the Paladin) I like some of Rands ideas/view points but find them (and therefore Objectivism) fatally flawed. Individuality and personal responsibility are extremely important. However in many ways she rejects responsibilities, seeing the strong, the movers and shakers as necessarily above that. She sees compassion as weakness, no difference in being forced to give or help and wanting to give or help. Of course there are other problems but this could get long :). The rape scene in the Fountainhead shows an odd thought process (at least it seems to do so to me). I preferred Atlas Shrugged...though the same attitudes are there. The idea that commitment is some how a weakness is also a big idea here. Oh well, I agree with the ideas of personal growth, individual rights, individual initiative. There are some areas however I can't agree with her. Have you read much about her personally? Interesting woman.

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

Objectivism is fatally flawed only if we choose for it to be. By shunning objectivism we can allow ourselves to wallow in the 'blame game'. I adopted objectivism as a young child without knowing what it was. As a teen, it became stronger and into adulthood it had cemented in me who I am. It was only as a young adult that I read Ayn Rand and thought 'gosh, that's me, I'm not weird after all'.
I have practiced this philosophy throughout my life and am now 71 years old with a fatal illness. My being, who I am, has thus far carried me around the throes of despair, self pity, and blame, to immediately put into place my deep objectivism.
It is very difficult for some people (most, really), to try to practice this philosophy if your innate being is not in tune with it. It is much easier to sidetrack it and be one of many.
As to believing that the 'movers an shakers are above responsibility' is true only for those who take no responsibility, have no compassion, and therefore in the end, are the weak, not the strong. It takes much strength to be an individual and not 'go along to get along'. Commitment to self is paramount for without that there can be no commitment to others. Self Love is also paramount for the same reasons.

message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Ann wrote: "Objectivism is fatally flawed only if we choose for it to be. By shunning objectivism we can allow ourselves to wallow in the 'blame game'. I adopted objectivism as a young child without knowing wh..."

That is a very good philosophy and I try to do it too but not very well. I have been blamed a good part of my life for anything that happened and I see the nonsense in it. I warned my mother years before my sisters nervous breakdown and then when it happened Mom blamed me. She taught her bad habit to both my sisters so they are always looking for someone to take the blame for any little thing that happens. Its a very bad habit in my family. I see this everywhere as I look. People do something and when it goes wrong they look for someone else to say caused the problem.
You must be very intelligent to practice this. I admire you very much.

Mike (the Paladin) Objectivism is flawed not in it's insistence that we accept responsibility and I do not reject that and "play the blame game". I reject it's assumption that to give a hand up is weakness, that to believe that a person can change and overcome former weakness is impossible. I reject it's total rejection of any belief in God and it's insistence that to help the poor or weak "from choice" is itself weakness. Much of Objectivist thought is valuable and worthwhile, but as I said Ms. Rand's philosophical system is (in my opinion) fatally flawed.

message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

So, let us just agree to disagree.

message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Alice wrote: "Ann wrote: "Objectivism is fatally flawed only if we choose for it to be. By shunning objectivism we can allow ourselves to wallow in the 'blame game'. I adopted objectivism as a young child withou..."

Alice, I had relatively little to do with the way I am. As I stated as a young child I was an objectivist without realizing it. I thought I was weird because i was so different than most of my friends. For example, I would never ever take things from someone I dislike such as favors, or anything even of little value. For me, It's the principal. I can't even force myself to change in that respect. I will often 'cut off my nose to spite my face' for if I tried to do otherwise I would feel just awful and have guilty feelings which I could never bear to have.

Mike (the Paladin) Ann, often that's much the best path as it shows respect for the other's view point and allows people to remain friends in spite of disagreements.

We shall agree to disagree. :)

I agree it's important to stand on your own principals.

Vincent Chough I liked this book more than you did Mike. Yes, the rape scene was disturbing. The perverted would say, "She loved it. She wanted it," and ironically, in the book, this was probably the case. Certainly one can identify a psychological pathology here.

I liked the character Roark. Again, he is an exaggeration, maybe even a caricature, but he represents that unswerving loyalty to an ideal to the point where he is a transforming force.
I would not call him Christ-like, but there are some parallels to be found.

Mike (the Paladin) That would really upset Ayn Rand as she was an almost rabid atheist. I've said before that I think Rand was correct in some of the things she believed but carried it out to an absurd extreme. I liked Atlas Shrugged better.

Rand based both her female protagonists on herself. That in itself says something. Her father lost everything when the Bolsheviks took over Russia. They came to America where she developed her philosophy.

message 17: by Kathy (new)

Kathy I think the commenter who said most readers just don't get it is correct. I think you get it.

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