Yes, I just finished reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. It will be an insult to writing in general, if I passed my judgement over such an extraordinary book, so here’s a list of my favorites from the book. The book made me think. A lot. And I jotted down some of those lines I felt couldn’t be expressed in any better way.
In Ayn Rand’s own words, the four main characters, so perfectly chiseled, are described thus,
Peter Keating – “A man who couldn’t be and doesn’t know it”
Ellsworth M. Toohey – “A man who couldn’t be and knows it”
Gail Wynand – “A man who could have been”
Howard Roark – “A man who was as man should be”
Of course, we aren’t all of Toohey or all of Roark, these characters exist only in the book, but a little bit of all four of them, Keating, Toohey, Wynand and Roark co-exist in each of us and that’s what captivates us most while reading and re-reading the novel.
Strangely clean joy of a sanction that was neither a bribe nor alms
Freedom – to ask nothing, to expect nothing, to depend on nothing!
Your life doesn’t belong to you if you’re aiming really high
“Argument, Mrs. Gillespie”, he said, “is one of the things that has neither use nor charm. Leave it to the men of brains. Brains, of course, are a dangerous confession of weakness. It has been said that men develops brains when they have failed in everything else.”
It takes two to make every great career: the man who is great, and the man – almost rarer – who is great enough to see greatness and say so.
There’s so much nonsense about 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.
He wondered whether the peculiar solemnity of looking at the sky comes, not from what one contemplates, but from that uplift of one’s head.
I? I’m the day after tomorrow.
This is pity, he thought, and then he lifted his head in wonder. He thought there must be something terribly wrong with a world in which this monstrous feeling is called a virtue.
Why do they always teach us that it’s easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline tp restrain ourselves? It’s the hardest thing in the world – to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage.
I don’t wish to be the symbol of anything. I’m only myself.
One man who wished neither to serve nor to rule. And had thereby committed the only unforgivable crime.
Happiness is self-contained and self-sufficient.
It stands to reason that where there’s sacrifice, there’s someone collecting sacrificial offerings. Where there’s service, there’s someone being served.
He does not exist for any other man – and he asks no other man to exist for him. This is the only form of brotherhood and mutual respect possible between men.
That most of these lines are from the parts “Peter Keating” and “Howard Roark” are, if anything, just a reflection of my reactions and impressions about these characters. Toohey is shown as the exact anti-thesis to all that is heroic and all that is Howard Roark, and the tipping point in the book, the exaltation of the human ego is best described the only encounter between Toohey and Roark, where Toohey seeks Roark’s recognition and is rebuffed,
“Why don’t you tell me what you think of me, Mr. Roark?” Roark replies, “But I don’t think of you.“
Ayn Rand doesn’t need any appreciation at all, because she loved the book that she wrote. And like all the best architecture described in the book, the book itself is based on a single central idea, that a man’s ego is the fountainhead of human progress. Nothing underscores the theme of the book better than Howard Roark’s defense argument in the Cortlandt homes case. Here’s the video from the 1949 movie of the same name.
The theme was only a forerunner to the Russian-born American writer’s philosophical dissertations and propositions, which she called “Objectivism”. Here is a link to that in wikipedia.
Ayn Rand has redefined the meanings of selfishness, egotism and altruism completely and her reason for writing “The Fountainhead” really provides an insight to the shaping of this epic,
This may sound naïve. But – is our life ever to have any reality? Are we ever going to live on the level? Or is life always to be something else, something different from what it should be? A real life, simple and sincere and even naïve, is the only life where all the potential grandeur and beauty of human existence can really be found. Are there real reasons for accepting the alternatives, that which we have today? No one has really shown life, as it really is, with it’s real meaning and it’s reasons. I’m going to show it. If it’s not a pretty picture, what is the substitute?
And what a substitute world she has created!