Writing a review on The Fountainhead is a real tough ask and I have made a real effort in reducing the review to less than a page, because frankly writing about it would make a book in itself. Moreover I have a feeling that trying to explain anything else might reveal the plot.
Frankly speaking, The Fountainhead is one of those books which when you read, you find is so slow and depressing that you would want to throw it into the trash can, but however strong the urge, you will not be able to do so because that would mean putting it down without knowing what happened next. I personally think it is much more than a novel, yes, it is known that The Fountainhead is based on Ayn Rand’s “Theory of Objectivism”, but in simpler words, The Fountainhead is the paperback edition of the quest of a human mind. It is essentially a whole new representation of life.
It is the story of a genius architect, who refuses to give up his stand under the pressure of the world. It starts with his expulsion from School of Architecture, just because he calls a spade a spade and refuses to copy mistakes that others accept as a part of life. The plot continues with a friend and classmate of his, who copies his ideas and makes it big in life. This friend is a typical character who partly lives in all of us and it is that part of us that accepts decisions of our lives which are made by others, like what to study, where to work and how to lead a life. The dependence of this character on his mother and then the society for support, rather than following his own dreams is depicted beautifully.
The story also continues with various characters, each with their avid personalities and goals of life. There is his lover, whose way of showing love is difficult to comprehend, who tries to inflict troubles in his life rather than help him out for her satisfaction. It also includes various plots and sub-plots wherein he meets friends and foes in a rich publisher and a real-life Guru, and the story revolves around these characters, who sometimes pave way for him and on other times, block his progress.
The storyline seems to be very slow, at times difficult to comprehend and follow. A lot of people I know left the book midway saying it was too tough, though I never felt it that way. But what is definitely true is that reading this book needs a lot of patience, because the storyline is not exactly a simple novel-type flow. Yet all said and done, even though the protagonist’s way of seeing and showing us the truth might take us by shock, it still does not fail in meeting the mark. What the book also shows is that, rather than being a sheep and losing your individuality for false happiness, be a lion and take charge of your life even if life seems less greener in the beginning.
The entire novel is a story of humanity’s struggle against individuality and the true meaning of ego. All in all, though The Fountainhead reveals the secret of life, it does not reveal the Key to Happiness in life, because quite frankly, there is none. But it does show another way of life, a new philosophy, which is quite different from the one that the society teaches us. A way of life called “Selfish Altruism”, i.e. to live fully and utterly for one’s self without any sense of guilt. It is about not sacrificing others for one’s own self, but sacrifices one’s own self for himself and his own creations. It is about the philosophy of an individual who lives for no one but himself, one who does not require the social attitudes of those around him. The ultimate state egoism as Ayn Rand puts it, the purest way to live.
There are some sets of pages in the book which have certain discussions, each line of which is a lesson for a lifetime. Sit with a pencil and mark them for re-reading. Looking at them over and over again, not only make for a great reading, but that reading will also give you more insight on life.
I would suggest this book to anyone who is interested in getting a more humanistic view of life. A book on an architect’s life seems a strange way to convey the fundamentals of life, but if you look at the metaphorical meaning that Ayn Rand wants to convey and that the entire book is based around architecture, which is merely a metaphor for the construction of life and different ideals, things do fall into place, and the bricks and blocks do add up and make the building.
A must read if you believe in yourself and a must read if you don’t. But don’t read it with the aim of understanding it from first page itself. It is a way of life and the knowledge that the book has to offer will take time to be grasped.
|This is a Guest post by Abhilash M. Books. Politics. Cinema. Food.