Saturday, June 7, 2008

Finally Finished "The Fountainhead"

So its taken me several months because I've been too busy to read and because it happens to be 700 pages long... but I've finally finished Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead"... all I had left for the past week even was 4 little pages but I wanted to make sure I enjoyed it and really had time to soak in the overall story. So today in Franklin Park next to my house with my Flour Bakery's BLT sandwich and raspberry seltzer (PS... on a side gripe, why is it it takes Flour 40 minutes to make a BLT sandwich to go? I've never gotten a sandwich there in less than 20 minutes even when there was no other customers... absurd).

The book was extraordinary... it's one of the few books that — even with my crazy huge list of to-reads — I would read yearly. I love when the story itself is so interesting but yet there's a cleverly inserted life-lesson. "The Fountainhead's" theme was about fulfilling and growing yourself and your personal passions rather than trying to satisfy what you think everyone else wants from you... and about doing things your own way rather than the way its been done by everyone else. In a nutshell — marching to your own beat really and being able to find a contentment in that rather than feeling like a failure if it isn't accepted by others as right or stylish or beautiful.

It was a great read — and there is another Ayn Rand book on the top 100 list ("Atlas Shrugged") but I may take a break from 700 page novels and fit in a few more manageable ones so I don't get overwhelmed and burnt out from the list!

So on this top 100 list... I only have 9 of the 100 finished (a few others I've read in high school but I'm planning on re-reading them since that's obviously been awhile!).

And even though I have read 9 of the "best of the bests," my all-time top books only include this single most recent book.

In order, my current favorites (the few books I would easily reread yearly):
1. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
2. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
3. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
4. 100 Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Hmm... with all the awesome books I've gotten particularly from my sister Tessa for my 30th birthday, I can't wait to pick my next book!


Richard said...

Did you grasp the value of the ending, where Dominique's elevator climb paralleled her rise in (philosophical) understanding? Her method of thinking saved her from her faulty view of the world (as fundamentally malevolent). She had achieved that capacity for seeing both the details and their broadest implications across the expanse of reality.

If you briefly revisit the first page, you will enjoy doing so. Think through how Roark's apparent island floats in space, introduces his chosen career (i.e. the rocks move) and how his relationship to the 'island' reflects (wordplay intended :-) the theme of the story.

Another worthwhile investment of time is to underline every indication that Dominique wants Roark sexually, from her first seeing him in the quarry, to the end of the sex scene. It is startling in how explicit it actually is, yet people think it is a rape scene.

By the way, Rand in no way thought that approach to sex is normative, it was just necessary for Dominique.

I also think it worth rereading Toohey's explanation to Keating of how to reduce people's minds and opinions to the maudlin lowest common denominator. Then, watch the Internet (say with a Google Alert for "Ayn Rand") as poorer readers than yourself attempt those very same tactics to denigrate The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged.


Anonymous said...

Damn, Richard.

You did make me want to read the book, though, Lil.

Richard said...

[bg!] Why Damn?? You must have heard some of the negatives, or is it just that The Fountainhead is rather long?

Atlas Shrugged is much better, but be careful. There is much imagery used to impart a deeper meaning. Even experienced writers and large numbers of academics completely miss the meaning and value the images offer.

Often they just dismiss certain colorful wordings as 'pulp', because of a superficial resemblance to said pulp, in the wording. It's their loss, if only they were not so sneeringly vocal about it. But, some doth protest too much, showing that they hold similar ideas to the one's Rand repudiates. They are turning themselves inside out to prove themselves right by ridiculing her.

What these rotters are trying to do is explicitly presented in The Fountainhead! Go to Toohey's explanation, of how he does these things, to Keating. The main portion begins on p634, but the lead up from the bottom of p 633 is something in itself. Start at:

"Keating got up. He dragged his feet to a dresser, opened a drawer, took out a crumpled piece of paper and handed it to Toohey. It was his contract with Roark.

"Toohey read it and chuckled once, a dry snap of sound."

Anonymous said...


I'm a big fan of Paulo Coelho! You will love this! He's the first best-selling
author to be distributing for free his works on his blog:

Have a nice day!


Richard said...

I have read The Alchemist. It would be a useful thinking tool to examine after having read Atlas Shrugged.

There is definitely a captivating mood that Coelho creates, and many of the values and virtues he presents are smoothly introduced by the events of the story, and by his diction & phraseology.

What are the values and virtues The Alchemist presents? Are they truly valid, or is Coelho reworking pop clich├ęs? Are the ideas actually supported by the real world, or merely by a clever storyline? Does he actually challenge your beliefs, or merely repeat what you have already accepted in new and captivating way?