Ayn Rand “The Fountainhead”: a true masterpiece of literature

I’ve just finished reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. Yeah, I know she is considered a right-wing conservative and an evil lady who hates charity and advocates selfish behavior and bla-bla. Whatever. I wanted to read her book in order to decide for myself. I didn’t want to have a judgement based on wikipedia or my friend’s thoughts about her. So I decided to just go ahead and read it. And I must tell you it took me a couple of days to finish it. I was truly addicted.

I was fascinated by her style of writing and narrating the story. I couldn’t stop reading the book and even fell in love with the main characters: Howard Roark, a genius modern architect and Dominique Frankon, a smart journalist. The book tells a story of a modern architect who cannot imagine his life without architecture.

Ayn Rand describes the corrupt and manipulative world of media and news making with readers who have no opinions of their own and simply read a tabloid-like newspaper to shape their views on the world. It is similar to what some of my friends told me about Ayn Rand and the fact tat they have never read her books before. They base their opinions on third-hand sources and some of them don’t want to try reading her books because she advocates in favor of selfish behavior.

Well, Howard Roark is a selfish and very ambitious individual, yet Ayn Rand points out that “the egotist is the absolute sense is not the man who sacrifices others. He is the man who stands above the need of using others in any manner. He does not function through them. He is not concerned with them in any primary matter. Not in his aim, not in his motive, not in his thinking, not in his desires, not in the source of his energy. 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.”

I agree with this quote completely. Does it make me a right wing conservative? Should you guys stop talking to me?

I also never thought of altruism from her point of view:

Men have been taught that the highest virtue is not to achieve, but to give. Yet one cannot give that which has not been created. Creation comes before distribution—or there will be nothing to distribute. The need of the creator comes before the need of any possible beneficiary. Yet we are taught to admire the second-hander who dispenses gifts he has not produced above the man who made the gifts possible. We praise an act of charity. We shrug at an act of achievement.

“Men have been taught that the ego is the synonym of evil, and selflessness the ideal of virtue. But the creator is the egotist in the absolute sense, and the selfless man is the one who does not think, feel, judge or act. These are functions of the self.”

My experience living and working in Asia has showed me that some NGOs have no idea what they’re doing. They cause more harm than good for a noble reason of charity. I believe if you cannot figure out what to do with your own life and how to make yourself happy, you cannot really help others. Altruism for the wrong reasons won’t be good for anyone. Doing charity so that you can brag about it at a cocktail party with your friends won’t be good either. and that’s the kind of altruism Ayn Rand doesn’t like.

Here you can find the full speech of Howard to the court.

It is one of the most brilliantly-written books I came across. The story and characters are fantastic. There were some momets in the book when I needed to take a break. I was way too worried for the main characters and didn’t want them to fail. I wonder why Hollywood hasn’t destroyed this story yet? Any thoughts?

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