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The Fountainhead  
Early edition cover
Author Ayn Rand
Country United States
Language English
Genre(s) Philosophical novel
Publisher Bobbs Merrill
Publication date 15 April 1943
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 752

The Fountainhead is a bestselling 1943 novel by Ayn Rand. It was Rand's first major literary success and its royalties and movie rights brought her fame and financial security. More than 5 million copies of the book have been sold worldwide and the work has been translated in several languages.[1]

The Fountainhead's protagonist, Howard Roark, is an individualistic young architect who chooses to struggle in obscurity rather than compromise his artistic and personal vision. The book follows his battle to practice what the public sees as modern architecture, which he believes to be superior, despite an establishment centered on tradition-worship. How others in the novel relate to Roark demonstrates Rand's various archetypes of human character, all of which are variants between Roark, the author's ideal man of independent-mindedness and integrity, and what she described as the "second-handers." The complex relationships between Roark and the various kinds of individuals who assist or hinder his progress, or both, allow the novel to be at once a romantic drama and a philosophical work. By Rand's own admission, Roark is the embodiment of the human spirit and his struggle represents the triumph of individualism over collectivism.

The manuscript was rejected by twelve publishers before a young editor, Archibald Ogden, at the Bobbs-Merrill Company publishing house wired to the head office, "If this is not the book for you, then I am not the editor for you." Despite generally negative early reviews from the contemporary media, the book gained a following by word of mouth and sold hundreds of thousands of copies. The Fountainhead was made into a Hollywood film in 1949, with Gary Cooper in the lead role of Howard Roark, with a screenplay by Rand.



Rand began The Fountainhead (originally titled Second-Hand Lives) following the completion of her first novel, We the Living. While that earlier novel had been based partly on people and events from Rand's experiences, the new novel was to focus on the less-familiar world of architecture. Therefore, she did extensive research to develop plot and character ideas. This included reading numerous biographies and books about architecture,[2] and working as an unpaid typist in the office of architect Ely Jacques Kahn.[3]

Rand's intention was to write a novel that was less overtly political than We the Living, to avoid being "considered a 'one-theme' author".[4] As she developed the story, she began to see more political meaning in the novel's ideas about individualism.[5] Rand also initially planned to introduce each chapter with a quote from philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche, whose ideas had influenced her own intellectual development. However, she eventually decided that Nietzsche's ideas were too different from her own. The quotes were not placed in the published novel, and she edited the final manuscript to remove other allusions to him.[6]

Rand's work on The Fountainhead was repeatedly interrupted. In 1937 she took a break from it to write a novella called Anthem. She also completed a stage adaptation of We the Living that ran briefly in early 1940.[7] That same year she also became actively involved in politics, first working as a volunteer in the presidential campaign of Wendell Willkie, then attempting to form a group for conservative intellectuals.[8] As her royalties from earlier projects ran out, she began doing freelance work as a script reader for movie studios. When Rand finally found a publisher, the novel was only one-third complete.[9]

Publication history

Although she was a previously published novelist and had a successful Broadway play, Rand had difficulty finding a publisher for The Fountainhead. Macmillan Publishing, which had published We the Living, rejected the book after Rand insisted that they must provide more publicity for her new novel than they did for the first one.[10] Rand's agent began submitting the book to other publishers. In 1938, Knopf signed a contract to publish the book, but when Rand was only a quarter done with manuscript by October 1940, Knopf canceled her contract.[11] Several other publishers rejected the book, and Rand's agent began to criticize the novel. Rand fired her agent and decided to handle submissions herself.[12]

While Rand was working as a script reader for Paramount Pictures, her boss there, Richard Mealand, offered to introduce her to his publishing contacts. He put her in touch with the Bobbs-Merrill Company. A recently hired editor, Archibald Ogden, liked the book, but two internal reviewers gave conflicting opinions about it. One said it was a great book that would never sell; the other said it was trash but would sell well. Ogden's boss, Bobbs-Merrill president D.L. Chambers, decided to reject the book. Ogden responded by wiring to the head office, "If this is not the book for you, then I am not the editor for you." His strong stand got a contract for Rand in December 1941. Twelve other publishers had rejected the book.[13]

The Fountainhead was published in May 1943. Initial sales were slow, but as Mimi Reisel Gladstein described it, sales "grew by word-of-mouth, developing a popularity that asserted itself slowly on the best-seller lists."[14] It reached number six on The New York Times bestseller list in August 1945, over two years after its initial publication.[15]

A 25th anniversary edition was issued by New American Library in 1971, including a new introduction by Rand. In 1993 a 50th anniversary edition from Bobbs-Merrill added an afterword by Rand's heir, Leonard Peikoff. According to the Ayn Rand Institute, by April 2008 the novel had sold over 6.5 million copies.[16]

Plot summary

Howard Roark, a brilliant young architecture student, is expelled from the Stanton Institute of Technology for refusing to abide by its outdated traditions. Despite the determined effort of some professors to defend Roark, and the subsequent offer to continue at Stanton from the headmaster, Howard chooses to leave the school. He goes to New York City to work for Henry Cameron, a disgraced architect whom Roark admires - being formally Cameron's employee but in fact his disciple, and in effect, his adopted son. Cameron who once was architecture's modernist hero, has fallen from fame due to the fickle demands of society. His work serves as an inspiration for Howard. Roark’s highly successful but vacuous schoolmate, Peter Keating, also moves to New York to work for the prestigious architectural firm, Francon & Heyer. Roark and Cameron create inspired work, but their projects rarely receive recognition, whereas Keating’s ability to flatter and please brings him almost instant success despite his lack of originality.

Roark closes his office rather than compromise his drawings, and his ideals, to the whims of his clients. He takes a job at a Connecticut granite quarry owned by Guy Francon, whose beautiful, temperamental, and idealistic daughter, Dominique, beguiles Peter Keating. Upon the urging of his mother, Keating breaks off his engagement with Catherine to facilitate his romance with Dominique.

While Roark is working in the quarry, he encounters Dominique, who has taken an extended holiday in the same town as the quarry. There is an immediate attraction between them, which results in flirtation followed by rape. (Author Ayn Rand said that "if it was rape, it was rape by engraved invitation."[citation needed])

Ellsworth Toohey, a columnist for The New York Banner (a yellow press-style newspaper owned by Gail Wynand) and author of the popular column One Small Voice, is an outspoken socialist, who is covertly rising to power by shaping public opinion through his column and his circle of influential associates, and whose quite openly proclaimed designs are not understood or taken seriously. Toohey sets out to destroy Roark through a smear campaign he spearheads at the Banner. As the first step, Toohey convinces a weak-minded businessman named Hopton Stoddard to hire Roark as the designer for a temple dedicated to the human spirit and gives Roark carte blanche to design it as he sees fit. Roark designs the temple, with a naked statue of Dominique, which creates the first public outcry against Howard and Stoddard is (with Toohey's encouragement) appalled at what Roark has built. Toohey further manipulates Stoddard into suing Roark for general incompetence and fraud. At Roark’s trial, every prominent architect in New York (including Keating) testifies that Roark’s style is unorthodox and illegitimate. Dominique defends Roark, but Stoddard wins the case and Roark loses his business again.

Dominique believes that greatness such as Roark's should never be offered to a public unable to appreciate it, and decides that since she cannot have the world she wants (in which men like him are recognized for what they are) she will live completely and entirely in the world she has, which shuns him and praises Keating. That evening, Dominique pays Keating a visit, and makes him a one-time offer of her hand in marriage. Keating accepts, and they are married that evening. Dominique turns her entire spirit over to Peter, hosting the dinners he wants, agreeing with him, and saying whatever he wants her to say. She fights Roark, and herds all of his potential clients over to the slowly weakening Keating. Despite this, Roark continues to attract a small but steady stream of perceptive, intelligent clients who see the value in his work.

To win Keating a prestigious architecture commission offered by Gail Wynand, the owner and editor-in-chief of the Banner, Dominique agrees to sleep with Wynand. Wynand then buys Keating's silence and a divorce for Dominique and Keating, after which Wynand and Dominique are married.

Wynand subsequently discovers that every building he likes is done by Roark, so he enlists Roark to build a home for himself and Dominique. The home is built, and Roark and Gail become great friends, although he does not know about Roark's past relationship with Dominique.

Now washed up and out of the public eye, Keating realizes he is a failure. Rather than accept retirement, he pleads with Toohey for his influence in favor of Keating to get the commission for the much sought after Cortlandt housing project. Keating knows that his most successful projects were aided by Roark, and he knows Roark is the only person who can design Cortlandt. Roark agrees to design it in exchange for complete anonymity—and the agreement that it would be built exactly as he designed.

When Roark returns from a long yacht trip with Wynand he finds that, despite the agreement, the Cortlandt Homes project has been changed. Roark asks Dominique to distract the night watchman and dynamites the building to prevent the subversion of his vision. The entire country condemns Roark, but Wynand finally finds the courage to follow his convictions and orders his newspapers to defend him. The Banner’s circulation drops and the workers go on strike (thanks to Toohey's quiet conspiracy to "stack" the paper with those who agree with him, or those whom he can control), but Wynand keeps printing with Dominique’s help. Eventually the tide of public opinion rises against Wynand and most of his staff leaves in protest. Wynand is eventually faced with the choice of closing the paper or reversing his stance and agreeing to the union demands; he gives in, the newspaper publishes a denunciation of Roark over Wynand's signature.

At the trial, Roark seems doomed, but he rouses the courtroom with a speech about the value of ego and the need to remain true to oneself. The jury finds him not guilty. Roark marries Dominique. Wynand, who has finally grasped the nature of the "power" he thought he held, asks Roark to design one last building, a skyscraper that will testify to the supremacy of man: "Build it as a monument to that spirit which is yours...and could have been mine."

A brief epilogue eighteen months later shows the Wynand Building well on its way to completion. The last scene follows Dominique (now Mrs. Roark), entering the site to meet Roark atop the steel framework.


The novel is split into four sections; Keating, Toohey, Wynand, and Roark. Peter Keating is "the man who couldn't be, and doesn't know it", who wants to achieve success as well as make a name for himself. But, he lives off the support and condolence of others, which is what leads to his demise. Ellsworth Toohey, presented as the complete antithesis of Roark, is "the man who couldn't be, and knows it", who sets out to destroy others through guilt and altruism, because he knows that this is the only way he can accomplish anything. Gail Wynand is the "man who could have been", who rises from the poverty of his youth to a position of power and riches. But Wynand uses his superlative talent not to create for himself, but to control others, which leads to his loss of the only thing he cherished right from his heart. The major characters exist as foils to Howard Roark who is Rand's image of the perfect man and, to a lesser extent, to contrast Toohey, who is portrayed as absolute evil. Roark is the man who was "as man should be", who lives for himself and his own creativity, indifferent to the opinions of others. (Dominique Francon is presented as the perfect mistress for Roark. Over the course of the novel she must learn not to fear society and not to let its flaws undermine her integrity.)

The first and fourth sections are quite obviously structured as two parallel and contrasting biographies - of Roark (4th section) and of Keating (1st section): Roark is expelled from the Stanton Institute while Keating graduates as the star student; Keating goes to work in the big and prestigious office of Guy Francon, and spends his time mainly on vicious office politics in order to sweep rival after rival out of his way; Roark goes to work in the rundown office of Henry Cameron in order to learn how to build - a disciple rather than employee; Keating celebrates the achievement of a partnership in Francon's office, with all the prominent architects of America gathered to welcome him - while Roark goes off to work as a manual worker in a granite quarry, rather than pervert his ideas; Roark feels wild exultation at seeing the Enright Building erected, fully expressing his ideas and vision - while Keating feels nothing in the inauguration of the Cosmo-Slotnik Building, "a big bromide" whose only good parts were secretly designed by Roark.

From the third section on, Keating's career (and his life in general) takes a sharp downward turn, and it is Wynand - who was kept offstage in the previous sections - who becomes the foil for Roark, in a more subtle and complicated way.

Peter Keating

Peter Keating is also an aspiring architect, but is everything that Roark is not. His original tendency was to become a painter, but his opportunistic mother pushed him toward architecture where he might have greater material success. Even by Roark's own admission, Keating does possess some creative and intellectual abilities, but is stifled by his psycophantic pursuit of wealth over morals. His willingness to build what others wish leads him to temporary success. He attends architecture school with Roark, who helps him with some of his less inspired projects. He is subservient to the wills of others: Dominique Francon's father, the architectural establishment, his mother, even Roark himself. Keating is "a man who never could be, but doesn't know it". The one sincere thing in Keating's life is his love for Catherine. She is Ellsworth Toohey's niece, but Keating initially refuses her suggestion to introduce him to her uncle. He does this despite the fact that an introduction to the influential architectural critic Toohey would help his career. In all other circumstances Keating is absolutely relentless and ruthless in furthering his career, even to the extent of bullying a sick old man and causing his death. Keating's offer to elope with Catherine is his one chance to act on what he believes is his own desire. But, Dominique arrives at that precise moment and offers to marry him for her own reasons, and his acceptance of the offer and betrayal of Catherine ends the potential of romance between them.

Ellsworth Toohey

Ellsworth Monkton Toohey, who writes a popular art criticism column, is Roark's antagonist. Toohey is an unabashed collectivist and Rand's personification of evil (when speaking freely, he explicitly compares himself to Goethe's Mephisto, who tempted Faust to destruction). Toohey represents the stifling, decadent forces of Communalism and Socialism. His biggest threat is the strength of the individual spirit enshrined in Howard Roark. He falsely styles himself as representative of the will of the masses.

Aiming at a society that shall be "an average drawn upon zeroes," he knows exactly why he corrupts Peter Keating, his boss, and explains his methods to the ruined young man in a passage that is a pyrotechnical display of the fascist mind at its best and its worst; the use of the ideal of altruism to destroy personal integrity, the use of humor and tolerance to destroy all standards, the use of sacrifice to enslave.[17]

Having no true genius, Toohey's mission is to destroy excellence and promote altruism as the ultimate social ideal. This is put forward in one of his most memorable quotes: "Don’t set out to raze all shrines—you’ll frighten men. Enshrine mediocrity, and the shrines are razed."

Rand used her memory of the British democratic socialist Harold Laski to help her imagine what he would do in a given situation.[18] Lewis Mumford was also an initial inspiration.[18]

In the biography of Toohey, it is mentioned that in his younger age he aspired to become a clergyman, but abandoned religion after discovering Socialism and considering that it better served his purposes. (There is no explicit mention of what denomination the young Toohey belonged to, but a later reference by his niece Catherine to the time when she used to "go to confession in church" seems to indicate a Roman Catholic background). In that, Toohey's early career parallels that of Stalin, who had also trained for the priesthood in his young age - though Toohey's methods are much more subtle than those of the Soviet dictator, and he builds up a formidable power structure without resorting to an outright seizure of power or establishing a secret police apparatus.

Indeed, even when frankly describing the nightmare world which is his ultimate aim ("A world where the thought of each man will not be his own, but an attempt to guess the thought of his neighbor (...) Men will not work for money, but for prestige, the approval of their fellows - not judgment, but public polls") Toohey makes no mention of any overt dictatorship or coercive apparatus. Rather, Toohey's methods throughout the book suggest that such a regime might be able to retain the forms of democracy, multi-party elections and a free press, with actual power held by Toohey-like "informal advisers".

As described in his biography, Toohey had already in early childhood developed a talent for subtly manipulating his parents and elementary school class-mates in order to gain power over them. The adult Toohey - who "never sees men, only forces" (Book II, Ch. 6) - is a master schemer and manipulator who, like a chess master, can devise a gambit and predict many moves in advance. For example, Toohey sets Hopton Stoddard to hire Roark for the construction of his temple - and without having ever spoken to Roark, just by having seen Roark's buildings, Toohey is able to give his proxy Stoddard the arguments which would induce Roark to undertake the job: "It doesn't matter if you don't believe in God, Mr. Roark; you are a profoundly religious man, in your own way. I can see it in your buildings". Having seen Roark's buildings, Toohey has a good idea what kind of temple Roark would construct - and even before Roark ever heard of Stoddard and his temple, Toohey already planned how he would attack the temple once built, get it destroyed and Roark discredited, and transform it into an "institute for subnormal children".

Roark's and Toohey's being the precise antithesis of each other is emphasized by a similarity in the way that Roark's buildings are first introduced in the book ("They were the first houses built by the first man born, who had never heard of others building before him") and the way that Toohey's public speaking is introduced ("The voice spoke English words, but the resonant clarity of each syllable made it sound like a new language spoken for the first time"). Toohey in fact very much wants Roark's recognition, claiming in effect that his perception of the significance of Roark's work and then destroying it makes him the equal of its creator — a claim which Roark rebuffs in their only face-to-face encounter in the entire book (excluding Roark's trials): "Why don't you tell me what you think of me, Mr. Roark?" Roark replies, "But I don't think of you." Roark's retort is one of the most well-known lines in the book (as in the film made on its basis) [19]. As noted by Rand herself in the introduction to the 1968 edition, it was inspired by words actually said by her husband Frank O'Connor "to a different type of person, in a somewhat similar kind of context".

Gail Wynand

Gail Wynand is a powerful newspaper mogul who rose from a destitute childhood in the ghettoes of New York City to control the city's print media. While Wynand shares many of the character qualities of Roark, his success is dependent upon his ability to manipulate public opinion, a flaw which eventually leads to his loss of the love and friendship he truly cherished not from mind but heart, for the first time. Rand describes Wynand as "a man who could have been." It has been speculated that Wynand is partially based on real-life newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst since Hearst himself started by taking over his father's newspaper and spread from there. Hearst was also known as the father of the yellow journalism, which Wynand is known for in the The Fountainhead. Furthermore, much like Wynand, Hearst had his own dream house constructed in California, the landmark Hearst Castle. Eventually, both real and fictional moguls sold out their empires, taking the businesses public in order to keep the newspapers from going under. Despite the obvious parallels, however, Rand states in her introduction that none of her characters were based upon real people.

Howard Roark

As the protagonist and hero in the book, Roark is an aspiring architect who firmly believes that a person must be a "prime mover" to achieve pure art, not mitigated by others, as opposed to councils or committees of individuals which lead to compromise and mediocrity and a "watering down" of a prime mover's completed vision. He represents the triumph of individualism over the slow stagnation of collectivism. Bowing to none, Roark rises from an unknown architect who was kicked out of school for "drawing outside of the lines". It is widely believed that Ayn Rand modeled the character of Howard Roark after Frank Lloyd Wright.[20] The descriptions of the character also have much in common with her earlier writings influenced by the murderer William Edward Hickman.[21] Roark goes on to design many landmark buildings. Roark rails against convention. He is eventually arrested and brought to trial for dynamiting a building he designed, but whose design was compromised by other architects brought in to negate his vision of the project. With a powerful speech condemning "second-handers" and declaring the superiority of prime movers, Roark prevails and is vindicated by the jury.

Dominique Francon

Dominique Francon is the heroine of The Fountainhead, described by Rand as "the woman for a man like Howard Roark." Dominique is the daughter of Guy Francon, a highly successful but creatively inhibited architect. She is a thorn in the flesh of her father and causes him much distress for her works criticizing the architectural profession's mediocrity. Peter Keating is employed by her father, and her intelligence, insight and observations are above his. It is only through Roark that her love of adversity and autonomy meets a worthy equal. These strengths are also what she initially lets stifle her growth and make her life miserable. She begins thinking that the world did not deserve her sincerity and intellect, because the people around her did not measure up to her standards. She starts out punishing the world and herself for all the things about man which she despises, through self-defeating behavior. She initially believes that greatness, such as Roark's, is doomed to fail and will be destroyed by the 'collectivist' masses around them. She eventually joins Roark romantically, but before she can do this, she must learn to join him in his perspective and purpose.

However, Dominique Francon eventually learns not to let a flawed society and misled zeitgeist inhibit her creative and emotional expression and drive, nor poison her hope in her own ideals. By the end of the novel, Dominique no longer cares what anyone thinks or does. She lives her life for herself and no one else. She learns to love and create freely and passionately, and no longer cares whether the world is worthy of her expression. She has a new world now that is hers alone. Finally, it is the act of creating, loving, and living in which she finds happiness, rather than the results of these successes, no matter how good or bad the recognition may be. It no longer matters what might happen or what others think, because the happiness she finds cannot be taken away from her. Her new world, that in which she sets the standards by which all will live in regards to any association with Dominique, is worthy of her beautiful mind and heart because it belongs to her and no one else, and is shared on her terms alone. That is, Dominique's terms as well as those with the same individualistic, objectivist and uncompromising ideals.

Main themes

Architectural theme

Rand dedicated The Fountainhead to her husband, Frank O'Connor, and to architecture. She chose architecture for the analogy it offered to her ideas, especially in the context of the ascent of Modern architecture. It provided a convenient vehicle to portray her views — that the individual is supreme, and that selfishness is a virtue.

Throughout The Fountainhead, Rand's definitions of "selfishness" and "selflessness" differ from common usage. Rather than using "selfish" as a pejorative, she uses the term to mean remaining true to one's ideals against the influence of others. "Selflessness" contradicts Roark's concept of self.

Peter Keating and Howard Roark are character foils. Keating practices in the historical eclectic and neo-classic mold, even when the building's typology is a skyscraper. He follows and pays respect to old traditions. He accommodates the changes suggested by others, mirroring the eclectic directions, and willingness to adapt, current at the turn of the twentieth century. Roark searches for truth and honesty and expresses them in his work. He is uncompromising when changes are suggested, mirroring Modern architecture's trajectory from dissatisfaction with earlier design trends to emphasizing individual creativity. Roark's individuality eulogizes modern architects as uncompromising and heroic masters. A common speculation is that Roark was inspired by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright; a claim both Rand and Wright denied.[22] However, in the book "Goff on Goff", architect Bruce Goff, a friend of Wright's claimed that Roark's character was based on Wright. He also said that Ayn Rand had asked Wright to design the sets for the movie based on the novel. Rand did, however, once commission Wright to design a summer home for her; it was never built. The most that may be suggested is that some of the descriptions of Roark's buildings resemble those of Wright: a notable example being the "Heller House" - the first of Roark's designs to be built - cantilevered over the edge of a cliff in a descriptive image reminiscent of Wright's famous Fallingwater in Pennsylvania.


Ayn Rand's philosophy, Objectivism, is woven into the text through its main characters. Rand writes in Atlas Shrugged: "My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute." Roark embodies this philosophy in his quest for architectural integrity and maintaining his own design, despite the (clearly more lucrative) accepted modes of architecture.

For a more complete indication of the influence of the novel and its author, see the article, "Bibliography for Ayn Rand and Objectivism‎."


The Fountainhead received mixed reviews when it was released.[23] There was a positive review in The New York Times that Rand greatly appreciated.[24] The Times reviewer called Rand "a writer of great power" who writes "brilliantly, beautifully and bitterly," and it stated that she had "written a hymn in praise of the individual... you will not be able to read this masterful book without thinking through some of the basic concepts of our time."[25] There were other positive reviews, but Rand dismissed many of them as either not understanding her message or as being from unimportant publications.[23] A number of negative reviews focused on the length of the novel,[26] such as one that called it "a whale of a book" and another that said "anyone who is taken in by it deserves a stern lecture on paper-rationing." Other negative reviews called the characters unsympathetic and Rand's style "offensively pedestrian."[23]

Benjamin DeCasseres, a columnist for the New York Journal-American wrote of Roark as "an uncompromising individualist" and "one of the most inspiring characters in modern American literature."[27]

Susan Brownmiller, in her 1970s work on sexual assault, Against Our Will, denounced the alleged rape scene, and Dominique's subsequent relationship with Roark, for promoting the idea that "no means yes" and that non-consensual sex occurs because the woman subconsciously agrees to it.

Assessing the novel's legacy, philosopher Douglas Den Uyl described The Fountainhead as relatively neglected compared to her later novel, Atlas Shrugged, and said, "our problem is to find those topics that arise clearly with The Fountainhead and yet do not force us to read it simply through the eyes of Atlas Shrugged."[28]


Illustrated version

In 1945, Rand was approached by King Features Syndicate about having a condensed, illustrated version of the novel published for syndication in newspapers. Rand agreed, provided that she could oversee the editing and approve the proposed illustrations of her characters, which were provided by Frank Godwin. The 30-part series began on December 24, 1945, and ran in over 35 newspapers.[29]

Film version

In 1949, Warner Brothers released a film based on the book, starring Gary Cooper as Howard Roark, Patricia Neal as Dominique Francon, Raymond Massey as Gail Wynand, and Kent Smith as Peter Keating. The film was directed by King Vidor. Although Rand wrote the screenplay, which was used with minimal alterations, she "disliked the movie from beginning to end," complaining about its editing, acting and other elements.[30]

Impact on popular culture

The Fountainhead has been referenced many times in popular culture. The book often appears to suggest Objectivist-related thought or change within a character, such as with the character Janet in the 1992 motion picture Singles or the character Sawyer in the television series Lost.

In the 1987 film Dirty Dancing, waiter and future medical student, Robbie Gould, uses the book to excuse his behavior toward the resort dance instructor, Penny Johnson, and his responsibility for getting her pregnant. He tells resort guest Frances "Baby" Houseman, that "some people count and some people don't." (This is not an actual quote from the novel.) As he says this he pulls out a tattered paperback copy of "The Fountainhead" from his pocket, suggesting she read it. But he wants it back because he's written many notes in the margins.

The film "Khudi" in Urdu is the adaptation of the Novel that is slated for release in India by June 2010, the film has been directed by ali emran kureshi.

Other examples of popular culture make plot-references more generally, such as when in the TV series Gilmore Girls, Rory calls Lorelai "the Howard Roark of Stars Hollow" for being ruthless in a competition,[31] or Rory tells Jess about her love of the book and Jess expresses awe that she read it when she was only 10.[32]

In the science fiction series Andromeda episode "The Bank of the Lethe" the character Tyr Anasazi reads a paperback of The Fountainhead. It is revealed in accompanyng literature with the series that Tyr's race, The Nietzscheans (a group of genetically enhanced humans that religiously follow the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Social Darwinism and genetic competitiveness) have named their homeworld Fountainhead and its capitol is a space station named after Ayn Rand.

English Britpop band The Bluetones named a track from their debut album Expecting to Fly after the novel.

The Fountainhead is read in many high school classrooms and has been a core work for the Advanced Placement Curriculum.

In the The Simpsons Episode Four Great Women and a Manicure, Lisa calls the Fountainhead "the bible of right wing losers".

In the epistolary novel The Perks of Being a Wallflower, the title character of Charlie is assigned "The Fountainhead" to read by his teacher, Bill, and later refers to the book as his "favourite".

In the Philip K. Dick novel and film adaptation A Scanner Darkly, a character attempting suicide picks The Fountainhead as an "artifact" to be found with his remains, his reasoning being it "..would prove he had been a misunderstood superman rejected by the masses and so, in a sense, murdered by their scorn...".

See also


  1. ^
  2. ^ Burns 2009, p. 41
  3. ^ Gladstein 1999, p. 11
  4. ^ Burns 2009, p. 43
  5. ^ Burns 2009, p. 69
  6. ^ Burns 2009, p. 87; Milgram, Shoshana. "The Fountainhead from Notebook to Novel". in Mayhew 2006, pp. 13-17
  7. ^ Britting 2004, pp. 54-56
  8. ^ Burns 2009, pp. 54-66
  9. ^ Branden 1986, p. 171
  10. ^ Branden 1986, p. 155
  11. ^ Burns 2009, p. 52
  12. ^ Burns 2009, p. 68
  13. ^ Burns 2009, p. 80; Branden 1986, pp. 170-171
  14. ^ Gladstein 1999, p. 12
  15. ^ "Timeline of Ayn Rand's Life and Career". Ayn Rand Institute. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  16. ^ "Sales of Ayn Rand Books Reach 25 million Copies". Ayn Rand Institute. April 7, 2008. Retrieved 2009-07-31. 
  17. ^ NY Times Books of the Century, article "Master Builder", dtd 5/16/43, 1998 Random House ISBN 0-8129-2965-9 (pp. 134-135)- the characterization of Keating as Toohey's "boss" is a mistake.
  18. ^ a b Mayhew, Robert (2007). Essays on Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. Lexington Books. ISBN 0-7391-1578-2 (pp. 57).
  19. ^ George Silverman, "Architecture and Politics, fact and fiction" p. 118-127
  20. ^ Essays on Ayn Rand's The fountainhead By Robert Mayhew
  21. ^ Burns 2009, p. 42
  22. ^
  23. ^ a b c Berliner, Michael S. "The Fountainhead Reviews", in Mayhew 2006, pp. 77-82
  24. ^ Rand 1995, p. 74
  25. ^ Pruette, Lorine (May 16, 1943). "Battle Against Evil". The New York Times: p. BR7. 
  26. ^ Gladstein 1999, pp. 117-119
  27. ^ Rand, Ayn (1995). Berliner, Michael S. ed. Letters of Ayn Rand. New York: Dutton. p. 75. ISBN 0-525-93946-6. 
  28. ^ Den Uyl, Douglas J. (1999). The Fountainhead: An American Novel. Twayne's Masterwork Studies. New York: Twayne Publishers. p. 21. ISBN 0-8057-7932-9. 
  29. ^ Sciabarra, Chris Matthew (Fall 2004). "The Illustrated Rand" (PDF). The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies 6 (1): 6. 
  30. ^ Britting 2004, p. 71
  31. ^ Allusions for the episode "They Shoot Gilmores, Don't They?" of Gilmore Girls, Retrieved 2008-06-10.
  32. ^ Allusions for the episode "A-Tisket, A-Tasket?" of Gilmore Girls, Retrieved 2008-06-26.


  • Branden, Barbara (1986). The Passion of Ayn Rand. Garden City, New York: Doubleday & Company. ISBN 0-385-19171-5. OCLC 12614728. 
  • Britting, Jeff (2004). Ayn Rand. Overlook Illustrated Lives. New York: Overlook Duckworth. ISBN 1-58567-406-0. OCLC 56413971. 
  • Burns, Jennifer (2009). Goddess of the Market: Ayn Rand and the American Right. New York: Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-532487-7. 
  • Gladstein, Mimi Reisel (1999). The New Ayn Rand Companion. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-30321-5. OCLC 40359365. 
  • Mayhew, Robert, ed (2006). Essays on Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books. ISBN 0-7391-1577-4. 

Further reading

  • Den Uyl, Douglas J. (1999). The Fountainhead: An American Novel. Twayne's Masterwork Studies. New York: Twayne Publishers. ISBN 0-8057-7932-9. 
  • Johnson, Donald Leslie (2005). The Fountainheads: Wright, Rand, the FBI and Hollywood. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company. ISBN 0-7864-1958-X. 
  • McGann, Kevin (1978). "Ayn Rand in the Stockyard of the Spirit". in Peary, Gerald & Shatzkin, Roger (eds). The Modern American Novel and the Movies. New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing. ISBN 0-8044-2682-1. 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.

The Fountainhead (1943) is a novel by Ayn Rand about an idealistic young architect who chooses to struggle in obscurity rather than compromise his artistic and personal vision. The book follows his battle to practice modern architecture, which he believes to be superior, despite an establishment centered on tradition-worship.


Part I

  • Howard Roark laughed.
    • Opening Part I
  • A house can have integrity, just like a person; and just as seldom.
    • Howard Roark
  • "I don't intend to build in order to have clients; I intend to have clients in order to build."
    • Howard Roark
  • "But you see, I have, let's say, sixty years to live. Most of that time will be spent working. I've chosen the work I want to do. If I find no joy in it, then I'm only condemning myself to sixty years of torture. And I can find the joy only if I do my work in the best way possible to me. But the best is a matter of standards--and I set my own standards. I inherit nothing. I stand at the end of no tradition. I may, perhaps, stand at the beginning of one."
    • Howard Roark
  • "Here are my rules: what can be done with one substance must never be done with another. No two materials are alike. No two sites on earth are alike. No two buildings have the same purpose. The purpose, the site, the material determine the shape. Nothing can be reasonable or beautiful unless it's made by one central idea, and the idea sets every detail. A building is alive, like a man. Its integrity is to follow its own truth, its one single theme, and to serve its own single purpose. A man doesn't borrow pieces of his body. A building doesn't borrow hunks of its soul. Its maker gives it the soul and every wall, window and stairway to express it."
    • Howard Roark
  • "Every form has its own meaning. Every man creates his meaning and form and goal. Why is it so important--what others have done? Why does it become sacred by the mere fact of not being your own? Why is anyone and everyone right--so long as it's not yourself? Why does the number of those others take the place of truth? Why is truth made a mere matter of arithmetic--and only of addition at that? Why is everything twisted out of all sense to fit everything else? There must be some reason. I don't know. I've never known it. I'd like to understand."
    • Howard Roark
  • "Do you mean to tell me that you're thinking seriously of building that way, when and if you are an architect?"
    "My dear fellow, who will let you?"
    "That's not the point. The point is, who will stop me?"
    • The Dean and Howard Roark
  • "You know, there's a thing that stumps me. You're the coldest man I know. And I can't understand why--knowing that you're actually a fiend in your quiet sort of way--why I always feel, when I see you, that you're the most life-giving person I've ever met."
    • Austin Heller to Roark
  • "If you want my advice, Peter, you've made a mistake already. By asking me. By asking anyone. Never ask people. Not about your work. Don't you know what you want? How can you stand it, not to know?"
    • Howard Roark speaking to Peter Keating
  • "How do you always manage to decide?"
    "How can you let others decide for you?"
    • Peter Keating and Howard Roark
  • "Do you always have to have a purpose? Do you always have to be so damn serious? Can't you ever do things without reason, just like everybody else? You're so serious, so old. Everything's important with you, everything's great, significant in some way, every minute, even when you keep still. Can't you ever be comfortable--and unimportant?"
    • Peter Keating and Howard Roark
  • "As a matter of fact, one can feel some respect for people when they suffer. They have a certain dignity. But have you ever looked at them when they're enjoying themselves? That's when you see the truth."
    • Dominique Francon

Part II

  • "Mr. Roark, we’re alone here. Why don’t you tell me what you think of me? In any words you wish. No one will hear us."
    "But I don’t think of you."
    • Ellsworth Toohey and Howard Roark
  • "I don't believe it matters to me- that they're going to destroy it. Maybe it hurts so much that I don't even know I'm hurt. But I don't think so. If you want to carry it for my sake, don't carry more than I do. I'm not capable of suffering completely. I never have. It goes only down to a certain point and then it stops. As long as there is that untounched point, it's not really pain.

-Where does it stop? -Where I can think of nothing and feel nothing except that I designed that temple. I built it. Nothing else can seem very important. -You shouldn't have built it. You shouldn't have delivered it to the sort of thing they're doing. -That doesn't mater. Not even that they'll destroy it. Only that it had existed."

  • "We never need to say anything to each other when we're together. This is- for the time when we won't be together. I love you, Dominique. As selfishly as the fact that I exist. As selfishly as my lungs breath air. I breathe for my own necessity, for the fuel of my body, for my survival. I've given you not my sacrifice or my pity, but my ego and my naked need. This is the only way you can wish to be loved. This is the only way I can want you to love me. If you married me now, I would become your whole existence. But I would not want you then. You would not want yourself-and so you would not love me long. To say 'I love you' one must first know how to say the 'I'. The kind of surrender I could have from you now would give me nothing but an empty hulk. If I demanded it, I'd destroy you. That's why I won't stop you. I'll let you go to your husband. I don't know how I'll live through tonight, but I will. I want you whole, as I am, as you'll remain in the battle you've chosen. A battle is never selfless. [...] You must learn not to be afraid of the world. Not to be held by it as you are now. Never to be hurt by it as you were in that courtroom. I must let you learn it. I can't help you. You must find your own way. When you have, you'll come back to me. They won't destroy me, Dominique. And they won't destroy you. You'll win, because you've chosen the hardest way of fighting for your freedom from the world. I'll wait for you. I love you. I'm saying this now for all the years we'll have to wait. I love you, Dominique."
    • Howard Roark
  • "Ask anything of men. Ask them to achieve wealth, fame, love, brutality, murder, self-sacrifice. But don't ask them to achieve self-respect. They will hate your soul."
    • Dominique Francon
  • "When facing society, the man most concerned, the man who is to do the most and contribute the most, has the least to say. It's taken for granted that he has no voice and the reasons he could offer are rejected in advance as prejudiced--since no speech is ever considered, but only the speaker. It's so much easier to pass judgment on a man than on an idea. Though how in hell one passes judgment on a man without considering the content of his brain is more than I'll ever understand. However, that's how it's done."
    • Kent Lansing
  • "I want a good hotel, and I have certain standards of what is good, and they're my own, and you're the one who can give me what I want. And when I fight for you, I'm doing--on my side of it--just what you're doing when you design a building."
    • Kent Lansing, speaking to Roark
  • "And what, incidentally, do you think integrity is? The ability not to pick a watch out of your neighbor's pocket? No, it's not as easy as that. If that were all, I'd say ninety-five percent of humanity were honest, upright men. Only, as you can see, they aren't. Integrity is the ability to stand by an idea. That presupposes the ability to think. Thinking is something one doesn't borrow or pawn."
    • Kent Lansing, speaking to Roark
  • "Don't worry. They're all against me. But I have one advantage: they don't know what they want. I do."
    • Kent Lansing, speaking to Roark
  • "Now, talk. Talk about the things you really want said. Don't tell me about your family, your childhood, your friends or your feelings. Tell me about the things you think"
    Mallory looked at him incredulously and whispered:
    "How did you know that?"
    Roark smiled and said nothing.
    "How did you know what's been killing me? Slowly, for years, driving me to hate people when I don't want to hate.... Have you felt it, too? Have you seen how your best friends love everything about you--except the things that count? And your most important is nothing to them, nothing, not even a sound they can recognize. You mean, you want to hear? You want to know what I do and why I do it, you want to know what I think? It's not boring to you? It's important?"
    "Go ahead," said Roark.
    Then he sat for hours, listening, while Mallory spoke of his work, of the thoughts behind his work, of the thoughts that shaped his life, spoke gluttonously, like a drowning man flung out to shore, getting drunk on huge, clean snatches of air.
    • Howard Roark and Steven Mallory
  • "When you see a man casting pearls without getting even a pork chop in return--it is not against the swine that you feel indignation. It is against the man who valued his pearls so little that he was willing to fling them into the muck and let them become the occasion for a whole concert of grunting...."
    • Dominique Francon
  • "There's nothing as significant as a human face. Nor as eloquent. We can never really know another person, except by our first glance at him. Because, in that glance, we know everything. Even though we're not always wise enough to unravel the knowledge. Have you ever thought about the style of a soul, Kiki?"
    "The ... what?"
    "The style of the soul. Do you remember the famous philosopher who spoke of the style of a civilization? He called it 'style.' He said it was the nearest word he could find for it. He said that every civilization has its one basic principle, one single, supreme, determining conception, and every endeavor of men within that civilization is true, unconsciously and irrevocably, to that one principle.... I think, Kiki, that every human soul has a style of its own, also. Its one basic theme. You'll see it reflected in every thought, every act, every wish of that person. The one absolute, the one imperative in that living creature. Years of studying a man won't show it to you. His face will. You'd have to write volumes to describe a person. Think of his face. You need nothing else."
    "That sounds fantastic, Ellsworth. And unfair, if true. It would leave people naked before you."
    "It's worse than that. It also leaves you naked before them. You betray yourself by the manner in which you react to a certain face."
    • Ellsworth Toohey, speaking to Kiki Holcombe
  • "It's good to suffer. Don't complain. Bear, bow, accept - and be grateful God has made you suffer. For this makes you better than the people who are laughing and happy. If you don't understand this, don't try to understand. Everything bad comes from the mind, because the mind asks too many questions. It is blessed to believe, not to understand. So if you didn't get passing grades, be glad of it. It means that you are better than the smart boys who think too much and too easily."
    • Ellsworth Toohey

Part III

  • "It's said that the worst thing one can do to a man is to kill his self-respect. But that's not true. Self-respect is something that can't be killed. The worst thing is to kill a man's pretense at it."
    • Dominique Keating
  • "Suffering? I'm not conscious of having shown that."
    "You haven't. That's what I meant. No happy person can be quite so impervious to pain."
    • Dominique Keating and Gail Wynand
  • "I often think that he's the only one of us who's achieved immortality. I don't mean in the sense of fame and I don't mean that he won't die some day. But he's living it. I think he is what the conception really means. You know how people long to be eternal. But they die with every day that passes. When you meet them, they're not what you met last. In any given hour, they kill some part of themselves. They change, they deny, they contradict--and they call it growth. At the end there's nothing left, nothing unreversed or unbetrayed; as if there had never been an entity, only a succession of adjectives fading in and out on an unformed mass. How do they expect a permanence which they have never held for a single moment? But Howard--one can imagine him lasting forever."
    • Steven Mallory, speaking of Howard Roark
  • "Surely you've seen through that particular stupidity. I mean the one that claims the pig is the symbol of love for humanity--the creature that accepts anything. As a matter of fact, the person who loves everybody and feels at home everywhere is the true hater of mankind. He expects nothing of men, so no form of depravity can outrage him."
    • Gail Wynand
  • "One can't love man without hating most of the creatures who pretend to bear his name. It's one or the other. One doesn't love God and sacrilege impartially. Except when one doesn't know that sacrilege has been committed. Because one doesn't know God."
    • Gail Wynand
  • " is reverence, and worship, and glory, and the upward glance. Not a bandage for dirty sores. But they don't know it. Those who speak of love most promiscuously are the ones who've never felt it. They make some sort of feeble stew out of sympathy, compassion, contempt and general indifference, and they call it love. Once you've felt what it means to love as you and I know it--the total passion for the total height--you're incapable of anything less."
    • Gail Wynand, speaking to Dominique Keating
  • "You've never felt how small you were when looking at the ocean."
    He laughed. "Never. Nor looking at the planets. Nor at mountain peaks. Nor at the Grand Canyon. Why should I? When I look at the ocean, I feel the greatness of man. I think of man's magnificent capacity that created this ship to conquer all that senseless space. When I look at mountain peaks, I think of tunnels and dynamite. When I look at the planets, I think of airplanes."
    • Dominique Keating and Gail Wynand
  • "I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York's skyline. Particularly when one can't see the details. Just the shapes. The shapes and the thought that made them. The sky over New York and the will of man made visible. What other religion do we need? And then people tell me about pilgrimages to some dank pesthole in a jungle where they go to do homage to a crumbling temple, to a leering stone monster with a pot belly, created by some leprous savage. Is it beauty and genius they want to see? Do they seek a sense of the sublime? Let them come to New York, stand on the shore of the Hudson, look and kneel. When I see the city from my window--no, I don't feel how small I am--but I feel that if a war came to threaten this, I would like to throw myself into space, over the city, and protect these buildings with my body."
    • Gail Wynand
  • " is exception-making."
    • Gail Wynand
  • "You can't fight him on his terms. You're only a tank--and that's a very clean, innocent weapon. An honest weapon that goes first, out in front, and mows everything down or takes every counterblow. He's a corrosive gas. The kind that eats lungs out."
    • Dominique Wynand speaking to Gail Wynand about Ellsworth Toohey
  • "I love you, Dominique. I love you so much that nothing can matter to me--not even you. Can you understand that? Only my love--not your answer. Not even your indifference. I’ve never taken much from the world. I haven’t wanted much. I’ve never really wanted anything. Not in the total, undivided way, not with the kind of desire that becomes an ultimatum, ’yes’ or ’no,’ and one can’t accept the ’no’ without ceasing to exist. That’s what you are to me. But when one reaches that stage, it’s not the object that matters, it’s the desire. Not you, but I. The ability to desire like that. Nothing less is worth feeling or honoring. And I’ve never felt that before. Dominique, I’ve never known how to say ’mine’ about anything. Not in the sense I say it about you. Mine. Did you call it a sense of life as exaltation? You said that. You understand. I can’t be afraid. I love you, Dominique--I love you--you’re letting me say it now--I love you."
    • Gail Wynand

Part IV

  • He had always wanted to write music, and he could give no other identity to the thing he sought. If you want to know what it is, he told himself, listen to the first phrases of Tchaikovsky's First Concerto--or to the last movement of Rachmaninoff's Second. Men have not found the words for it nor the deed nor the thought, but they have found the music. Let me see that in one single act of man on earth. Let me see it made real. Let me see the answer to the promise of that music. Not servants nor those served; not altars and immolations; but the final, the fulfilled, innocent of pain. Don't help me or serve me, but let me see it once, because I need it. Don't work for my happiness, my brothers--show me yours--show me that it is possible--show me your achievement--and the knowledge will give me courage for mine.
    • The thoughts of the boy with the bicycle at the opening of Part IV
  • "What you feel in the presence of a thing you admire is just one word--'Yes.' The affirmation, the acceptance, the sign of admittance. And that 'Yes' is more than an answer to one thing, it's a kind of 'Amen' to life, to the earth that holds this thing, to the thought that created it, to yourself for being able to see it. But the ability to say 'Yes' or 'No' is the essence of all ownership. It's your ownership of your own ego. Your soul, if you wish. Your soul has a single basic function--the act of valuing. 'Yes' or 'No,' 'I wish' or 'I do not wish.' You can't say 'Yes' without saying 'I." There's no affirmation without the one who affirms. In this sense, everything to which you grant your love is yours.
    "Howard, that 'Yes'--once granted, can it be withdrawn?"
    • Howard Roark and Gail Wynand
  • "There's so much nonsense about the human inconstancy and the transience of all emotions. I've always thought that a feeling which changes never existed in the first place. There are books I liked at the age of sixteen. I still like them."
    • Gail Wynand
  • When she had gone upstairs, he walked to a window and stood looking up at the sky. His head thrown back, he felt the pull of his throat muscles and he wondered whether to peculiar solemnity of looking at the sky comes, not from what one contemplates, but from that uplift of one's head.
    • Gail Wynand's thoughts
  • "It takes two to make a very great career: The man who is great, and the man-- almost rarer-- who is great enough to see greatness and say so."
    • Kent Lansing
  • "You’ll get everything society can give a man. You’ll keep all the money. You’ll take any fame or honor anyone might want to grant. You’ll accept such gratitude as the tenants might feel. And I--I’ll take what nobody can give a man, except himself. I will have built Cortlandt."
    "You’re getting more than I am, Howard."
    • Howard Roark and Peter Keating
  • "If you learn how to rule one single man's soul, you can get the rest of mankind. It's the soul, Peter, the soul. Not whips or swords or fire or guns. That's why the Caesars, the Attilas, the Napoleons were fools and did not last. We will. The soul, Peter, is that which can't be ruled. It must be broken. Drive a wedge in, get your fingers on it--and the man is yours."
    • Ellsworth Toohey
  • "The first movement of Roark's head was not to look at the city in the window, at the judge or at Dominique. He looked at Wynand. Wynand turned sharply and walked out. He was the first man to leave the courtroom."
  • "Build it as a monument to that spirit which is yours...and could have been mine."
    • Gail Waynand
  • "Anything may be betrayed, anyone may be forgiven. But not those who lack the courage of their own greatness."
    • Gail Wynand
  • "This is pity," he thought, and then he lifted his head in wonder. He thought that there must be something terribly wrong with a world in which this monstrous feeling is called a virtue.
    • Howard Roark
  • "I'm not an altruist,Gail. I don't decide for others."
    • Howard Roark to Gail Wynand
  • "And isn't that the root of every despicable action? Not selfishness, but precisely the absence of a self."
    • Howard Roark
  • "I could die for you. But I couldn't, and wouldn't, live for you."
    • Howard Roark
  • "Independence is the only gauge of human virtue and value. What a man is and makes of himself; not what he has or hasn't done for others. There is no substitute for personal dignity. There is no standard of personal dignity except independence."
    • Howard Roark
  • "Altruism is the doctrine which demands that man live for others and place others above self."
    • Howard Roark
  • "The first right on earth is the right of the ego."
    • Howard Roark
  • "Wynand looked at his wrist watch. He said: 'It's 9 o'clock. You're out of job, Mr. Toohey. The Banner has ceased to exist.'"
  • "This was the end of The Banner...I think it is proper that I should meet it with you."
    • Wynand to Toohey
  • "Mankind will never destroy itself, Mr.Wynand. Nor should it think of itself as destroyed. Not so long as it does things such as this."
    • Roark to Wynand, about the Wynand building.
  • "What you think you've lost can neither be lost nor found. Don't let it go"
  • "Thousands of years ago, the first man discovered how to make fire. He was probably burned at the stake he had taught his brothers to light. He was considered an evildoer who had dealt with a demon mankind dreaded. But thereafter men had fire to keep them warm, to cook their food, to light their caves. He had left them a gift they had not conceived and he had lifted darkness off the earth. Centuries later, the first man invented the wheel. He was probably torn on the rack he had taught his brothers to build. He was considered a transgressor who ventured into forbidden territory. But thereafter, men could travel past any horizon. He had left them a gift they had not conceived and he had opened the roads of the world.

    That man, the unsubmissive and first, stands in the opening chapter of every legend mankind has recorded about its beginning. Prometheus was chained to a rock and torn by vultures--because he had stolen the fire of the gods. Adam was condemned to suffer--because he had eaten the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Whatever the legend, somewhere in the shadows of its memory mankind knew that its glory began with one and that that one paid for his courage.

    Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. Their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, the vision unborrowed, and the response they received--hatred. The great creators--the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors--stood alone against the men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The first airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won."
    • Howard Roark
  • "The creators were not selfless. It is the whole secret of their power--that it was self-sufficient, self-motivated, self-generated. A first cause, a fount of energy, a life force, a Prime Mover. The creater served nothing and no one. He had lived for himself. And only by living for himself was he able to achieve the things which are the glory of mankind. Such is the nature of achievement."
    • Howard Roark
  • "Man cannot survive except through the use of his mind. He comes on earth unarmed. His brain is his only weapon. Animals obtain food by force. Man has no claws, no fangs, no horns, no great strength of muscle. He must plant his food or hunt it. To plant, he needs a process of thought. To hunt, he needs weapons, and to make weapons--a process of thought. From this simplest necessity to the highest religious abstraction, from the wheel to the skyscraper, everything we are and everything we have comes from a single attribute of man--the function of his reasoning mind.

    But the mind is an attribute of the individual. There is no such thing as a collective brain. There is no such thing as a collective thought. An agreement reached by a group of men is only a compromise or an average drawn upon many individual thoughts. It is a secondary consequence. The primary act--the process of reason--must be performed by each man alone. We can divide a meal among many men. We cannot digest it in a collective stomach. No man can use his lungs to breathe for another man. No man can use his brain to think for another. All the functions of body and spirit are private. They cannot be shared or transferred."
    • Howard Roark

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Simple English

The Fountainhead is a long novel written by Ayn Rand. The book was first printed in 1943.


Howard Roark A gifted architect who is expelled from college for trying to be too original. He is unwilling to compromise and he doesn't care what people think about him.

Peter Keating He planned to become rich by just following what is popular, rather than being original like Roark. He said that because of that, he would be more successful than Roark. In the end, Keating admits that he is a failure and he was being used.

Ellsworth Toohey He is the antagonist (the bad guy) of the story. He tries to stop Roark from being successful by controlling weak-minded people.

Gale Wynand He is the owner of a newspaper which writes stories which appeal to the opinion of the public. He realizes that he is a failure because of that, and becomes friends with Roark at the end.

Henry Cameron Roark's mentor.

Dominique Francon She is a woman who fears having great things such as love because society can destroy those great things. Roark changes her view of life and marries her.

Symbolism And Themes

Architecture and skyscrapers in this novel are used to symbolize the ability of humans to do great things.

Basically, the theme of the novel is Rand's idea that being selfish can be a good thing, while being selfless can make a person a servant to other people. This novel has many themes that support ideas such as Objectivism, and capitalism. This novel has many themes that are against ideas like communism and altruism.

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