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The Fountainhead back to reviews
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Whether you love it or hate it, it will make you think!
Let's make this clear. Ayn Rand's work is a massive case of Your Mileage May Vary. In essence, her work savagely deconstructs the dominant moral beliefs of much of Western Civilization without any mercy. As she burns Christian and Comtean altruism down to ashes, she erects a competing moral theory that argues morality should be focussed not on society, but on the individual and the individual's life. In short, Rand argues against selflessness, and argues for selfishness.

This in and of itself would make someone hate Ayn Rand. But this is mostly due to mischaracterization. Rand's "selflessness" was Auguste Comte's original definition of Altruism, i.e. "live for others" (the ultimate purpose of every person must be the service of other persons). Rand's "selfishness" is closer to what most people would refer to as "individuation" and "flourishing." But, unfortunately, misinterpretations persist (due in no insignificant part to deliberate misinterpretations by Rand's detractors, as well as the rather hostile behavior of some of her supporters).

Regardless, The Fountainhead is, by literary standards, the most sophisticated of Ayn Rand's works. There are few Author Filibuster moments, and much use of subtle allegory. She writes in a rather strident, bitter tone, which personally I like. It is a truly thrilling and liberating experience to see thousands of years of accepted moral wisdom be dismembered. Her use of architecture as a metaphor for a human being's character is memorable.

Yes, this is, style-wise, an epic novel. The mundane facts of day to day life are disregarded when they get in the way of allegory. Protagonists are, like in Dostoyevsky's novels, embodiments of sets of ideas rather than approximations of how most people act in the real world.

The good thing about this book, even if you disagree with it, is that it will make you think. It will force you to critically examine the moral ideals you are frequently confronted with. Even if you think Objectivism would not work in real life, it is quite probable you will find something admirable and beautiful about Ayn Rand's vision of what life and humanity can be like.
Well, to your credit, for all the mockery I have heard directed at Rand's works, you have piqued my interest in the book. Thank you.
comment #912 RobinZimm 31st Aug 09
Robin Zimm,

My pleasure. Even if you disagree with the novel, I hope you derive some benefit from reading it.
comment #913 StudiodeKadent 31st Aug 09
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