Max Ostrovsky's Reviews > The Fountainhead

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
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's review
Jun 27, 2007

really liked it
bookshelves: classics, fiction, philosophy

I did not like The Fountainhead as much as Atlas Shrugged. Atlas Shrugged was more of a page turner. There were very specific character goals that drove that story. The Fountainhead had a gradual buildup to a very climactic courtroom scene. The Fountainhead took the reader on a very linear journey, but never going beyond the basic story of a man who wants to succeed. Of course there are more nuances than that, but that is the basic essence. Atlas Shrugged takes a more epic approach and raises more issues and more awareness of the world around you. As Ayn Rand has said, The Fountainhead was the story of man, while Atlas Shrugged was a story of society. And, of course, society is going to have more things going on in it.
Both stories revolve around a central character, the perfect man. In The Fountainhead, this man is Howard Roark, Architect. While being "perfect" in the Ayn Rand sense, he seems more human than the counterpart in Atlas Shrugged, John Galt, Destroyer, who is more of a god in that story. Even the speeches made at the end by both men are as different. Roark's speech is approachable, readable, understandable and relates directly to the reader. The reader is instantly drawn in. John Galt's Speech, however, is a massive didactic and at times condescending speech that as a reader is a major undertaking in a book as involved as Atlas Shrugged. But the audiences were different for the men. Roark spoke to men who he chose to listen to him. Men who were logical thinkers; cold and objective. Galt spoke to the radio masses; basically sheep. He had to find 42 different ways of saying the same thing, just so the people could understand him. Beyond the speeches these men are different in their presentation in the book. Roark begins and ends the story. Galt is a mystery for the majority of Atlas Shrugged. He is mythic and godlike. Referenced, but never known and understood with the constant elusive and almost meaningless quote "Who is John Galt?" That book really focuses on Dagny Taggert, a rare very strong female character. Atlas Shrugged is really her story, her failing quest to save a world that doesn't understand its own danger from a destroyer. Both she and Galt are a matched pair, similar in philosophies, drive and dedication, but different in their approach. Dagny was relentless in trying to hold the world together, even though the world tried to stop and undermine her at every turn. Galt did not actively seek out destruction. He merely illustrated that without the exploitation of people like Dagny, it will not and can not survive. He simply withdrew himself from being exploited.
One thing that Ayn Rand really impresses me with is that while she gets a kick out of creating and describing and telling the story of the perfect man, she incorporates some of the strongest women I have ever read in literature. As Dagny is in Atlas Shrugged, Dominique was in The Fountainhead. While not as strong or dominate as Dagny, Dominique finds her own niche in the story as the perfect female and satirizes what society usually paints as the "perfect female." Besides being physically attractive she is smart beyond normal comprehension. When trapping herself in a meaningless marriage and playing the part of the "perfect wife," she performed her womanly duties; everything when the husband wanted. Did he love this "perfect wife?" He was miserable because who would want to date a robot who did everything he wanted. She exhibited no personality or thought of her own and was perfectly compliant with everything everyone wanted from her....specifically to show how miserable they can be by simply using her.
Fountainhead is a brilliant novel. Ayn Rand has found a way to share her philosophies in a way that is entertaining and enlightening and only a rare trace of didacticism. The Fountainhead shows a very true if not menacing picture of how evil altruism can be.
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Quotes Max Liked

Ayn Rand
“Look, Gail." Roark got up, reached out, tore a thick branch off a tree, held it in both hands, one fist closed at each end; then, his wrists and knuckles tensed against the resistance, he bent the branch slowly into an arc. "Now I can make what I want of it: a bow, a spear, a cane, a railing. That's the meaning of life."

"Your strength?"

"Your work." He tossed the branch aside. "The material the earth offers you and what you make of it . . . ”
Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead

Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Megan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:34PM) (new)

Megan Meagan were you a philosophy major?

message 2: by Max (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:34PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Max Ostrovsky I was an English Creative Writing major. Philosophy was a hobby though.

message 3: by Violeta (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:41PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Violeta I'd like to change that lead question: "Who is Dagny Taggart?"


message 4: by Max (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:41PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Max Ostrovsky It'd be a fun question. :) Although, she was the anti-Galt, in many ways. While the phrase/question "Who is John Galt" became synonymous with 'Who knows,' 'who cares,' and 'nothing can be done,' Taggart's attitude was just the opposite. She was trying to get people to own up and do things, be accountable and never give up.

Ilyn Ross Hello Max,

How are you? I revere Ayn Rand.

When you have the time, please visit the "To the Glory of Man" group, the "Happy & Brainy" group, and the author giveaways (my novel, Reason Reigns, is listed). Could I add you as my friend?

Warmest regards,


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