Saturday, February 22, 2014
Review of The Fountainhead
This instant classic is the story of an intransigent young architect, his violent battle against conventional standards, and his explosive love affair with a beautiful woman who struggles to defeat him. (www.goodreads.com)
This novel is something else. Something else entirely. I read a few reviews before I began mine, and the overall opinion was that it's a great book when you're too young to understand the way the world works.
To be honest, I'm 29 and I loved this novel for what it was worth. I admire Howard Roarke for his unwavering principles. I realise most of the world relies on compromise and sacrifice but I still have a healthy dose of respect for someone who won't jeopardise his own beliefs so he will fit in better in society. During reading this novel I more than once wished I had once had the 'balls' to do what I wanted instead of doing what is expected. Doing what you want, as Howard Roarke does, mostly means that you have so little responsibilities that you don't have to surrender yourself to others.
In this way Howard Roarke is a lonely man, because he won't budge and he won't respect anyone who would budge for him. He doesn't want compromise, but when no one would the world would be filled with stones and no cement to put them together. Compromise is necessary.
For a novel, since the world in books doesn't always have to be a real life scene, this is a good way of exploring what someone like Roarke would be like. You see him depicted as a kind of lonely hero, but I think that he must have been lonely and somewhat despairing.
So, this novel puts me in both ends of the discussion. Admiration for the choices in his life and a certain sense of pity of leading this lonely life.
Of course more people lived in this novel besides Howard Roarke.
You have the charismatic Peter Keating, who leads the exact opposite life of Roarke. He never acts on behalf of his own desires, only lives by the standards other people set for him. This leads to a lonely and very disillusioned life. He gains everything professionally but isn't capable of enjoying his success since he never wanted it in the first place.
Elsworth Toohey, the anti-christ, sort of speak, is a katalyst who proclaims that sacrifice to others is a virtue and selfishness the greatest sin of man. He sets out to destroy men who are confident of themselves and don't live to be what others expect them to be.
Last but not least is Dominique Francon, a woman whose life never has been difficult, but who has neither respect nor love for the world around her. She sees something beautiful being defiled by people looking at it who can't understand what it means. Only in the end does she understand that nothing changes due to men's thoughts about it, and then she can begin to comprehend life and love. I have the least respect for this character. She's a woman too cunning to ever truly love someone, even Roarke.
It's a lenghty novel, it contains ideas I don't always agree with but the overall opinion I got, is that everyone should read this novel just once. And truly think about it. It's a novel to be savoured, not to be read too hastily. Rather take a month or so and let the situations, the ideas and the philosophy sink in. It's a novel that's got something for every generation.
But let me say this, to put an end to my review. Never drop out of school, even if they don't understand you or you think it's a waste of time. School isn't something you got to achieve, but it's a means to achieve greater things in life. So don't take after Roarke, because the world he lived in doesn't exist anymore.
Personal score: 4 stars