Thursday, December 29, 2005

The Fountainhead

Recently I wrote about the philosophy of Ayn Rand based on her novel The Fountainhead, as part of an assignment. The philosophical part of the assignment would be pretty difficult to digest but then the synopsis of the novel, I thought, would be worth sharing. So here you go! Please refrain from reading further if you are planning to read the novel in future. For those who have already read it take a trip down memory lane rekindling one of the masterpieces of modern literature.

-- Warning: spoiler ahead --

Howard Roark and Peter Keating are from the same architecture school. Keating graduated as the topper with contemptuous help from Roark while Roark was expelled from the school for refusing to adhere to the curriculum by changing his own ideas. After his studies, Keating joins Guy Francon’s privileged architecture firm while Roark works under the veteran architect Cameron, who was uprooted long back by Gail Wynand, the media tycoon. Keating has plans to marry Dominique Francon, daughter of Guy Francon who is also a columnist, and succeed him in his business. Roark has his own notions about buildings, that each building is a character by its own and hence new buildings shan’t be just a copy of its old counterparts, which unfortunately was done by architects of his age. Hence he doesn’t get many assignments. He isn’t able to pursue his architecture-ship further and eventually ends up working in a quarry for a living, where he meets Dominique Francon and both fall in love. Roark soon receives an invitation to do the design of a building at New York city and leaves the quarry.

Keating’s mother wants him to marry Dominique as he falls in love with a poor woman. Dominique makes Keating marry herself, in order to test Roark and she also tries to demerit Roark thinking that the world doesn’t deserve his creations; all due to the love she has for him. Ellsworth Toohey, the main anti-hero of the novel, with some hidden plans, invites Roark to design a temple. Roark places a nude statue of Dominique in the temple. Later Toohey talks to the public about the poor design of the building and sues Roark, basically to hinder his growth. Toohey also makes Gail Wynand meet Dominique which results in the marriage of Dominique and Wynand. Meanwhile Roark and Wynand become friends.

Roark designs a housing project owing to Keating’s request and later finds out that the initial design he made has been changed by Keating’s associates. As a result Roark blows off the building and Dominique gets hurt while helping him. Roark convinces the court why he blew off the building and talks about his philosophy which forms the essence of the novel and Ayn Rand’s philosophy of objectivism. During the trial Wynand’s newspaper accuses Roark mainly due to Toohey’s presence in it as a columnist and Wynand takes its side. As a result Dominique leaves Wynand and marries Roark. Finally Wynand realizes his mistake, fires Toohey and gives Roark a new construction project where the story ends.

-- Spoiler end --

The Fountainhead is the best fictional work and also the best love story I have ever read. But somewhere I could empathize with Howard Roark as a character that I feel I am like him in many aspects.


36 comments:

venus said...

I've read ayn rand a couple of years back, may be 7-8 yrs back, and it didn't feel like it was some 1920s classic i was reading! you should read 'we, the living' too! She indeed is one of my fav authors. Ayn rand was a capitalist born in communist country, and you can find her capitalistic attitude in each of her work. but, I havn't read her atlas shrugged though, looking at the volume of the book!

silverine said...

Read this some time back. But then I have the habit of re reading books, Each read throws up some new aspect. You have simplified the book to a great extent. Good review!

chips said...

Very objective synopsis, huh, jithU? :-)

'The Fountainhead is the best fictional work and also the best love story I have ever read.' Totally agree with u there. What I find so strange about this book is that everytime u read the book, it changes ur perspective in some way or the other.

Contrary to many people's opinions, Dominique was my fave character in this book. But I couldnt help feeling a great deal of sympathy for Gail in the end. Aaah...I guess thats just me, always sympathising with the loser... :-)

I havent read any other Ayn Rand books, but this one totally blew me away...

And yea...have a very Happy New Year!! May u have a great year ahead!! :-))

Geo said...

Impressive!!!


Wish you a very happy new year!!!

Vanathi said...

Good story...

Anonymous said...

I wonder weather people are so philosophically poor that they seek their inspiration/justification from a fiction novelist ?

I thiink, you should do your own exploration to figure out what is it that you want ? not read just one book and decide on its philosophical merit.

~ponderer

>|' ; '| said...

happy nu year

read the fountainhead sometime back.
i sympathise with many of the characters; and empathise with none...

Sangeetha said...

i'll try to get that one....
until then wish u a happy new year!

aria said...

I'd read Fountainhead long bck. We were told to read it in our class to take some creative writing tips.
A frnd of mine borrowed it frm me n still hasn't bothered to return it. Thanks for the blog - I'm gonna call her rightaway.
Wishing you a very happy new year.

lost optimist..^!^ said...

this book affected my thoughts for a real long time..it was such a change from the usual fiction..it was a wonderful read..

happy new year:)

chips said...

@ ponderer: Hey, just because one reads some stuff that happen to inspire does not necessarily mean that one is philosophically scant, u know. It is just like reading an autobiography and feeling inspired, just that in the former case, the characters are fictitious. And the process of self- exploration goes on all our lives. I dont think anybody bases his whole life on some random book that he's read. It just boils down to ur own perception, whether or not u want to take inspiration from a book, or any other source for that matter.

>|' ; '| said...

yea .. chips has a point there. one might even get inspired by a blade of grass...

AF said...

wish u a very happy new year!

Jithu said...

> venus
yeah have to read we the living. its a much talked abt book. btw atlas shrugged epitomizes Ayn Rand's philosophy of objectivism whose ground work she made in fountainhead...

> silverine
thts just the story part :-) btw i have read it only once.

> chips
dominique ur favourite character? ayn rand says, dominique is the woman for a man like roark.. thnx for that explanation to ponderer :-)

> geo
thnx dey

> vanathi
thanx yaar..

> ponderer
novels can be inspiring at times.. not all people but a few.. but yeah beliefs definitely are not blind. :-) welcome to uncertainty..

Jithu said...

> poison
thnx man! person dependent stuff :-)) yeah inspiration can come from anything. the king of puranas got that from a spider..

> sangeetha
definitely, its a great read. u'll like it.. happy new year to u too..

> aria
ha ha.. so this post of mine help u to get ur book back. tell me when u get it :-)

> lost optimist
even for me, it changed the way in which i considered novels. HNY to u too.. :-)

> af
thnx doc and same to u.. :-)

tangy said...

hey Happy New Year :)

Nivedita said...

Never heard of Ayn Rand so obviously haven't heard about the Fountainhead, but from yor blog and all the comments it seems really interesting. So once I am done with what I am currently reading, this will be the next one...and by the way, Happy New Year!

Keshi said...

Never heard of this before....but will look for it now, thanks!


Happy New Year jithu!


Keshi.

~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...

I am still in love with Fountain head - even after 4 long years ....

it gave me strength when i most needed it ..

~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...

but these days , it hurts me to read it again ...

Roark and Dominique are my forever favourite characters ....

i agree w/ so many things in the book

~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...

happy new year to u ...

and i just cant talk abt FH ... i empathise so much w/ Dominique

~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
~*. D E E P A .* ~ said...

but u havent mentioned Roark'd and Wynand's EXACT Relation at the end of the book

Praveen said...

Great synopsis on the book. Read the book sometime back and I surprisingly - surprising since everyone who had read it gave me great feedback - I did not like it, maybe because I found it too preachy if thats the right word.

moontalk said...

hi
surprisingly i got both fountain head n atlas shrugged as b'day gifts last year, n both the books effectively ve screwed up my already messed up head!
but it always amuses me wen ppl say they like ayn rynd, wonder hw many actually understood her well(no offence at all the ppl who ve said they like her, n no i ve not understood her completely either!)
i mean in terms of the implications, n the consequences of her ideas.its actually quite scary,esp the atlas shrugged scenario
i've still not made up my mind bout the buk...except that it cld do wid a lot of editing...a.r.has this habbit of getting carried away n repeating herself...esp in those long speeches

jedi said...

ive always felt tht fountainhead is the most difficult novel to be picturised.. in a movie. not tht it has any staggering impossible visuals. just tht there is no living actor who can do justice to the inner turmoils of the character of Howard Roark. U can very well write that name alongwith the term 'enigma'. coz i got the true meaning of tht word after reading the fountainhead. only thing is objectivism is an interesting idea, but everyone tends to get drunk a bit too much after reading the fountainhead

Krishanu said...

i read the fountainhead a few years ago. frankly, i was disappointed with the novel as i had heard a lot about it. initially i thought i had misunderstood the novel. but later when i discussed the novel with friends who were diehard rand fans i found that my interpretation wasnt too far off! but i guess different people different strokes!

Mirage said...

Sure am hearing a lot abt this book...will read it as soon as my brother finishes with it. Slow coach!

Jithu said...

> tangy
happy new year to u too :-)

> nivedita
u got to read that book. its simply awesome. hey, happy new year to u too..

> keshi
hey happy new year :-)

> deepa
yeah i knw, u like FH very much. remember the first ever comment of urs in this blog? :-)

> praveen
hmm.. part of a privileged class huh!

> moontalk
hmm.. thts another pov abt the book i am comin across!

> jedi
it was made in to a pic in 1940 with screenplay wrote by AR herself.. and the hero, had infact performed a really good job.. :-)

> krishanu
hmm.. subjectivity!

> mirage
lookin forward to one more in the league!

Suji said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Suji said...

I am a great fan of 'The Fountainhead'. Read it around 10 years ago and have re-read it a couple of times. Have also read 'Atlas Shrugged' and "We the Living'. Both are good, but not great like Fountainhead. And in Atlas Shrugged I felt that she had carried objectivism a bit too far.

I think I am a little late in posting my comments, but just came across ur blog today and couldn't leave without commenting on my all time favourite book.

shalini said...

hello jithu
the fountainhead synopsis is great work simplified .the book can be read and re read again as it creates the same enjoyment each time.however the character of howard roark is very difficult to exist in the modern world scenario and that is the only aspect gone more than the limits well atlas shrugged is also more than just imaginary.a simplified version of fountainhead is a pleasure to read

b4 past n future said...

I love this book and it got me into architecture. Now i seem to have a problem finding books that are similar to this one (in terms of writing about architecture and the art aspect of it), but i can't find anything as good, would you please let me know if there any other books that go extensively into architecture?

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