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The Fountainhead
The Fountainhead's centennial edition based on the original cover.
Author Ayn Rand
Language English
Genre(s) Philosophical
Publisher Bobbs Merrill
Released December 1943
Media Type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 752 p. (paperback edition)
ISBN ISBN 0672506696 & ISBN 0452286379 (paperback edition)

The Fountainhead is a 1943 novel by Ayn Rand. It was Rand's first major literary success and its royalties and movie rights brought her fame and financial security. The book's title is a reference to Rand's statement that "man's ego is the fountainhead of human progress," and is a more specific version of the book's theme, which is in Rand's words, "Individualism and collectivism in man's soul." Image File history File links Stop_hand. ... Ayn Rand (IPA: , February 2 [O.S. January 20] 1905 – March 6, 1982), born Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum, was a Russian-American author and philosopher best known for developing the philosophy of Objectivism and for writing the novels We the Living, Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Philosophy (from the Greek words philos and sophia meaning love of wisdom) is understood in different ways historically and by different philosophers. ... A hardcover (or hardback or hardbound) book is bound with rigid protective covers (typically of cardboard covered with cloth or heavy paper) and a stitched spine. ... Paperback may refer to a kind of book binding by which papers are simply folded without cloth or leather and bound - usually with glue rather than stitches or staples - into a thick paper cover; or to a book with this type of binding. ... See also: 1942 in literature, other events of 1943, 1944 in literature, list of years in literature. ... Daniel Defoes Robinson Crusoe; title page of 1719 newspaper edition A novel (from French nouvelle, new) is an extended fictional narrative in prose. ... Ayn Rand (IPA: , February 2 [O.S. January 20] 1905 – March 6, 1982), born Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum, was a Russian-American author and philosopher best known for developing the philosophy of Objectivism and for writing the novels We the Living, Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged. ... A royalty is a sum paid to the creator of performance art for the use of that art. ... Film refers to the celluloid media on which movies are printed. ... eGO is a company that builds electric motor scooters which are becoming popular for urban transportation and vacation use. ...


Plot introduction

The Fountainhead examines the life of an idealistic young architect, Howard Roark, who prefers to struggle in obscurity rather than compromise his artistic and personal vision by pandering to the prevailing taste in building design. The book was rejected by twelve publishers before a young editor at the Bobbs-Merrill Company publishing house wired to the head office, "If this is not the book for you, then I am not the editor for you". Despite generally negative reviews from the contemporary media, the book gained a following by word of mouth and sold hundreds of thousands of copies. The Fountainhead was made into a Hollywood film in 1949, with Gary Cooper in the lead role of Howard Roark, and a screenplay by Rand herself. Architect at his drawing board, 1893 An architect is a person involved in the planning, designing and oversight of a buildings construction. ... A publisher is a person or entity which engages in the act of publishing. ... The Bobbs-Merrill Company was a book publisher located in Indianapolis, Indiana. ... ... See also: 1948 in film 1949 1950 in film 1940s in film 1950s in film years in film film Events Top grossing films North America Adams Rib Jolson Sings Again Pinky I Was a Male War Bride, The Snake Pit, Joan of Arc Academy Awards Best Picture: All the... Gary Cooper and Eleanor Roosevelt, in 1950 Gary Cooper (May 7, 1901 – May 13, 1961) was a two-time Oscar-winning American film actor of British heritage, whose career spanned from the 1920s up until the year of his death. ... A screenplay or script is a blueprint for producing a motion picture. ...

Plot summary

Howard Roark and Peter Keating attend the same prestigious architectural school. Howard had wanted to be an architect since he was ten, because 'he doesn't believe in God,' i.e. wants to create and produce in the real, living world, as he understands it. Peter decided to become an architect out of pressure from his mother, though he originally wanted to be a painter. Keating graduates at the top of his class (with scornful assistance from Roark) and becomes a prominent partner at the firm of Guy Francon, Dominique's father. He realizes that he owes much of his success to Howard, and this causes him to resent him. Roark, however, is expelled from the school for refusing to allow the curriculum to dictate how he should create, and refusing to sacrifice effectiveness for the sake of tradition. Roark finds refuge with Henry Cameron, an architect who shares Roark's vision but whose formerly successful career has been destroyed by his own unwillingness to compromise.

Peter then gradually rises up the company ladder by sacrificing others. While Keating and Francon find great success for a time reproducing classic architecture, Roark labors in Cameron's dying firm. Cameron, defeated by society, soon dies; he tells Roark that there's 'something' he should find, that Roark's the answer to everything, and that all the problems in the world are represented by Gail Wynand. Despite some initial commissions, Roark is unable to sustain his own firm, which he began after odd jobs as a draftsman, and eventually takes a job at a granite quarry. It is here that he catches the eye of Dominique Francon whose father owns the quarry (she was hiding from the rest of society by staying there) and has been impressed with the buildings Roark has created, even though she did not yet know that he was the architect. Dominique maneuvers Roark to her house, and allows Roark to rape her (this scene has been described as "rape by engraved invitation" and explained by Rand as "wishful thinking" [1], see also rape fantasy), beginning their love affair. Roark soon receives an important commission and returns to New York. A classic is an item that has become a ubiquitous and unique symbol or icon of a time gone by, mainly because of its inherent quality or its representative status. ... The Parthenon on top of the Acropolis, Athens, Greece Architecture (from Latin, architectura and ultimately from Greek, αρχιτεκτων, a master builder, from αρχι- chief, leader and τεκτων, builder, carpenter) is the art and science of designing buildings and structures. ... A rape fantasy is a sexual fantasy about participating in a rape, a fictional story about a rape, or an acted-out scene of pretend rape between consenting adults. ...

Keating has fallen in love with a plain young woman, but his mother convinces him to submit to Guy Francon's desire for Keating and Dominique to fall in love. Dominique convinces Keating to marry her rather than the woman he truly loves, as a way of testing Roark and to show him what she feels is the equivalent of what he's doing - giving herself to an unworthy world like Roark does with his buildings. In addition, Dominique embarks on a quest to hinder Roark's professional career, because she feels that the world is unworthy of Roark's creations.

In the meantime, through the machinations of Ellsworth Toohey (who happens to be the uncle of Keating's former love, Catherine), Roark receives a commission to build a temple to the human spirit. Roark creates a building with a nude statue of Dominique as its centerpiece, aware that he is falling into a trap. Toohey convinces Roark's client (as he originally planned) that the building is in bad taste and poorly designed, and Roark is sued for damages. Roark proudly refuses to offer any defense, because he thinks that no defense would be effective if the judge can't understand the beauty of the building in the first place, and the money he loses in the suit is used to destroy the artistic integrity of his building. Toohey did this because Roark was building a name for himself, and wanted him destroyed.

Again through the work of Toohey, Dominique and Gail Wynand meet, and Wynand falls in love with her, because she represents the egotistical image of humanity that he never really achieved for himself. Dominique, in an effort to further test Roark and to punish Keating, divorces Keating and marries Wynand. Wynand happens across photographs of the temple in its original form, and is aghast when he learns that his own newspaper played a crucial role in the building's destruction. Eventually, Roark meets Wynand, and the two men become friends, although Wynand is unaware of Roark's relationship with Dominique. Wynand sees in Roark a man that truly loves his work and thus can't be destroyed by Wynand's money or apparent cultural influence. Wynand, who is constantly trying to isolate Dominique from his work and the rest of society, does the same to Roark but fails completely, and becomes obsessed with the two.

The climax of the novel is precipated by Keating's desperate request for Roark's help in designing a major housing project that he has been commissioned to build; Roark agrees to design the building, but on the condition that Keating not allow any changes to the design to take place. Keating makes a valiant effort, but is unable to prevent his associates from altering Roark's design, and the building is not built according to Roark's wishes. Roark, in a calculated move, blows up the building. Dominique, who aided in the plan, nearly succumbs when she inadvertently cuts an artery while faking injuries meant to conceal her role.

With Roark soon to stand trial for the crime, Wynand insists that his papers defend Roark to the fullest. However, Toohey's influence prevails, and the popularity of Wynand's papers plunges precipitously. Eventually, Wynand allows his partners to override his insistences by joining the public opinion that Roark is a criminal, a move he realizes is suicidal for his pride and personal integrity, and his papers regain a portion of their popularity. Thus, Wynand realizes that control over others is inconsistent and without value. Following Wynand's betrayal of Roark, Dominique finally accepts the parameters of her love for Roark, earns a respect for his indifference to who sees his work and what is thought about it, and leaves Wynand.

Roark, at his trial, expounds at length about why he acted as he did, essentially speaking as Rand's voice. Roark is acquitted. The novel ends with Roark and Dominique married, and Roark accepting a final commission from Wynand to build a skyscraper (in the final scene, he is overviewing its construction proudly) as a monument to who Roark is and who Wynand could have been, had he not built his life around power over others.

Characters in "The Fountainhead"

The major characters in the novel all represent different types of people, and essentially exist to contrast Howard Roark, who is Rand's image of the perfect man (and, to a lesser extent, contrast Toohey, who is shown as the absolute evil.) Roark is the man who was 'as man should be,' who lives for himself and his own creative power, indifferent to the opinions of others. Dominique Francon is presented as the perfect mistress for Roark. Over the course of the novel she must learn not to fear society and not to let its flaws hinder her integrity. Gail Wynand is the 'man who could have been,' who rises from the poverty of his youth into an extremely rich and powerful position, but, in jealousy of his former 'superiors,' uses his superfluous talent not to create for himself, but to control others, which leads to his own demise. Peter Keating is 'the man who couldn't be, and doesn't know it,' who wants to achieve as well as make a name for himself, but lives off the support and condolence of others, which is what leads to his demise. Ellsworth Toohey, presented as the complete antithesis of Roark, is 'the man who couldn't be, and knows it,' who, pessimistic about his talent when he was young, sets out to destroy others through guilt and altruism, because he knows that this is the only way he can accomplish anything. The novel is split into four sections, named after Keating, Toohey, Wynand, and Roark; each section (though the plot is completely chronological) is named after the character which fully shows his own nature in each one. The last one, in which Roark achieves his final victory, is named after him.

Howard Roark

Howard Roark is the hero of the novel, whom Rand portrays as a paragon of Objectivist ideals (though, when the novel was published, she was not yet known as a philosopher and the term Objectivism had not yet been coined.) He is an aspiring architect with a unique, uncompromising creative vision, which contrasts sharply with the staid and uninspired conventions of the architectural establishment. Roark takes pleasure in the act of creation, but is constantly opposed by "the hostility of second-hand souls" and those unwilling or afraid to recognize his creative ability. Roark serves as the basic mold from which the protagonists of Rand's other great novel, Atlas Shrugged, are cast. Roark is the paragon of a successful man as visualised by Rand. Objectivism is the philosophical system developed by Russian-American philosopher and writer Ayn Rand. ... Architect at his drawing board, 1893 An architect is a person involved in the planning, designing and oversight of a buildings construction. ... Atlas Shrugged is a novel by Russian-born writer and philosopher Ayn Rand, first published in 1957 in the USA, and Rands last work of fiction before concentrating her writings exclusively on philosophy. ...

Dominique Francon

Dominique Francon is the heroine of the novel, described by Rand as "the woman for a man like Howard Roark." She is the daughter of a highly successful but creatively inhibited architect, and it is only through Roark that her love of pleasure and self-dominance meets a worthy equal. She is the daughter of Guy Francon, who fears his daughter and is Peter Keating's esteemed boss. She is held a protagonist, but is not (at least for the bulk of the novel) without flaw. She believes, and it is represented in her actions, that greatness such as Roark's is doomed to failure.

Gail Wynand

Gail Wynand is a powerful newspaper mogul who rose from a destitute childhood in the ghettoes of New York City to control the city's print media. While Wynand shares many of the character qualities of Roark, his success is dependent on public opinion, a flaw which eventually leads to his destruction. Rand describes Wynand as "a man who could have been." A Ghetto is a area where people from a specific racial or ethnic background or united in a given culture or religion live as a group, voluntarily or involuntarily, in milder or stricter seclusion. ... Nickname: The Big Apple, The Capital of the World Official website: City of New York Government Counties (Boroughs) Bronx (The Bronx) New York (Manhattan) Queens (Queens) Kings (Brooklyn) Richmond (Staten Island) Mayor Michael Bloomberg (R) Geographical characteristics Area Total 468. ...

Peter Keating

Peter Keating is also an aspiring architect, but is everything that Roark is not. Keating's creative abilities are somewhat mediocre, but his willingness to build what others wish him leads to temporary success. He went to architecture school with Roark, and Roark helped him with some of his less inspired projects. He is subservient to the wills of others - Dominique Francon's father, the architectural establishment, his mother, even Roark himself. Keating is "a man who never could be, but doesn't know it," according to Rand.

Ellsworth Toohey

Rand describes Toohey as "a man who never could be, and knows it." Toohey is an architectural critic for Wynand's paper who uses his influence over the masses to hinder Howard Roark. Toohey is an unabashed collectivist, who styles himself as representative of the will of the masses. Having no true genius that such innovators as Roark possess, he makes himself excellent by manipulating the masses to believe that mediocrity is excellent. Toohey serves as the primary villain in the novel, and the gravest enemy of Objectivist ideals. Toohey is also the only character in the novel to have political goals. He is attempting to establish a Communist dictatorship in America by altering people’s view of excellence; to destroy that which is great and spread the word that altruism is the ultimate ideal. This is put forward in one of his most memorable quotes: “Don’t set out to raze all shrines – you’ll frighten man. Enshrine mediocrity, and your shrines are razed.” It is in this that makes Ellsworth Toohey Ayn Rand’s most evil villain; unlike the characters in Atlas Shrugged, who are really just blindly following Toohey’s religion, Toohey knows exactly what he is doing – and why.

Though the character was created before hand, Rand used her memory of British socialist Harold Laski to help her imagine what he would do in a given situation. Socialism is a political philosophy advocating an economic system in which the means of production are owned and controlled collectively. ... Harold Joseph Laski (June 30, 1893, Manchester, England - March 24, 1950, London, England) was an English political scientist, economist, author, and lecturer, and served as the 1945-1946 chairman of the Labour Party. ...

Main themes

Architectural theme

In addition to dedicating this book to her husband, Frank O'Connor, Ayn Rand also dedicated this book to "the noble profession of architecture." She chose the architectural profession for the analogy it offered to her ideas, especially in the context of the rise of the Modern Movement in architecture. In her hands, this profession becomes a convenient vehicle for portraying her views — that the ego is supreme, and individualism and selfishness are virtues to be treasured. The Parthenon on top of the Acropolis, Athens, Greece Architecture (from Latin, architectura and ultimately from Greek, αρχιτεκτων, a master builder, from αρχι- chief, leader and τεκτων, builder, carpenter) is the art and science of designing buildings and structures. ... Analogy is either the cognitive process of transferring information from a particular subject (the analogue or source) to another particular subject (the target), or a linguistic expression corresponding to such a process. ... Modern architecture is a broad term given to a number of building styles with similar characteristics, primarily the simplification of form and the elimination of ornament, that first arose around 1900. ... Individualism is a moral, political, and social philosophy, which emphasizes individual liberty, the primary importance of the individual, and the virtues of self-reliance and personal independence. It assumes that a person can be socially and culturally free of upbringing: deep-structure language(s), family(s) of origin, and both... Selfishness is, at base, the concept and/or practise of concern with ones own interests; it is often used to refer to a self-interest that comes in a particular form, or above a certain level. ...

The characters of Peter Keating and Howard Roark are placed in, as far as their careers go, antithesis to each other. Keating still practices in an eclectic/neo-classical/historical mould even when the building typology is modern like a skyscraper and is therefore dishonest and imitative. He is also accommodating of changes suggested by others. This mirrors the various eclectic directions and the general willingness to adapt at the turn of the twentieth century. Roark, however, rejects history, searches for truth and honesty and tries to express these in his works. He takes an uncompromising stand when changes are suggested in his buildings. This mirrors the trajectory of Modern architecture with its origins from dissatisfaction with earlier trends and its emphasis on individual creativity. The celebration of Roark's individuality can be seen in parallel with the eulogizing of modern architects as uncompromising and heroic "masters." It is possible that the character of Roark is based on the famous American architect Frank Lloyd Wright - though Rand herself denied this. Neoclassicism (sometimes rendered as Neo-Classicism or Neo-classicism) is the name given to quite distinct movements in the visual arts, literature, theatre, music, and architecture. ... The word typology literally means the study of types. ... Taipei 101, the worlds tallest building since its completion in 2004, is located in Taipei, Republic of China (Taiwan). ... (19th century - 20th century - 21st century - more centuries) Decades: 1900s 1910s 1920s 1930s 1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s The 20th century lasted from 1901 to 2000 in the Gregorian calendar (often from (1900 to 1999 in common usage). ... Creativity (or creativeness) is a mental process involving the generation of new ideas or concepts, or new associations between existing ideas or concepts. ... Frank Lloyd Wright Frank Lloyd Wright (June 8, 1867 – April 9, 1959) was one of the most prominent and influential architects of the first half of the 20th century. ...

Literary significance & criticism

Economist Mark Skousen criticized The Fountainhead on philosophical grounds, arguing that Rand's protagonist contradicts a basic premise of laissez-faire capitalism (and therefore of Objectivist philosophy) — consumer sovereignty: "Howard Roark's conviction ["An architect needs clients, but he does not subordinate his work to their wishes."] is irrational... For Roark, A is not A. He wants A to be B — his B, not his customer's A. Thus, Ayn Rand's ideal man misconceives the very nature and logic of capitalism — to fulfill the needs of customers and thereby advance the general welfare."[1] Objectivism is the philosophical system developed by Russian-American philosopher and writer Ayn Rand. ...

However, one might easily argue that Skousen's criticism is beside the point: "In all proper relationships there is no sacrifice of anyone to anyone. An architect needs clients, but he does not subordinate his work to their wishes. They need him, but they do not order a house just to give him a commission. Men exchange their work by free, mutual consent to mutual advantage when their personal interests agree and they both desire the exchange. If they do not desire it, they are not forced to deal with each other. They seek further. This is the only possible form of relationship between equals. Anything else is a relation of slave to master, or victim to executioner." [2] According to Rand, the basis of capitalism is neither "to fulfill the needs of customers" nor to "advance the general welfare." There is no such thing as consumer sovereignty. The consumer is not the sovereign of the producer, as little as the producer is the sovereign of the consumer. There are no sovereigns in capitalism, only freedom of choice. The basis of capitalism is free exchange to mutual advantage if the interests of buyer and seller coincide. For the producer to enslave and sacrifice himself to the wishes of the customer is therefore not capitalism.

Furthermore, it is misleading to talk about A and non-A (or B) in this context. A refers to a metaphysical fact. The whims of a customer are manmade — and not an A in the implied sense. According to Leonard Peikoff such an argument amounts to "realism," i.e. mistaking manmade evils for facts of nature. [3] Admitting the term A for the sake of the argument, Roark does not want his customers’ non-A to be his own A. He simply chooses not to do business with non-A people, and holds out for people who want his A. Leonard Peikoff circa 1970 Leonard Peikoff (born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1933) is an Objectivist philosopher. ...

Library of Congress dispute

As Ayn Rand's heir, Leonard Peikoff inherited many of Rand's manuscripts. During her lifetime, Rand had apparently made a comment at one point saying that she would donate her manuscripts to the Library of Congress upon her death, a bequeathal she later had reservations about. Leonard Peikoff circa 1970 Leonard Peikoff (born in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1933) is an Objectivist philosopher. ... A manuscript (Latin manu scriptus, written by hand), strictly speaking, is any written document that is put down by hand, in contrast to being printed or reproduced some other way. ... The Great Hall interior. ...

The Library of Congress had no reservations, though. They continued to pester Peikoff about the manuscripts, and even resorted to demanding that he present them to the library. He considered his options, but after a heart attack in July 1991, he decided to turn over the manuscripts as Rand's initial, though reserved, wish had been. He had his assistant box all of the manuscript pages except for two--the first and last pages of The Fountainhead--which he had framed. In their stead, he had the pages photocopied so that the manuscripts would be "complete." An appraiser went through the manuscripts and notified the Library of Congress about the replacement pages, but the Library of Congress replied that it was of no consequence. 1991 (MCMXCI) was a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar. ...

Some years later, Peikoff held an interview in his home with a reporter from the Los Angeles Times, and when asked about the pages (which had been framed and hung on the wall of his office), Peikoff joked about having "stolen" them from the Library of Congress. This apparently went into the article, and not long after that the Library of Congress contacted Peikoff and demanded that he return U. S. Government property. The Los Angeles Times (also known as the LA Times) is a daily newspaper published in Los Angeles, California and distributed throughout the western United States. ... This law-related article does not cite its references or sources. ...

After consulting with his lawyer, Peikoff determined that there was not much he could do about his situation. While perhaps he had a right to keep the papers and even though they were legally his (his argument is that he had never donated them to the library, so they had never been property of the U. S. Government), and even though he might win a lawsuit against the government, the process would be long and expensive. So he signed a capitulation agreement, but supplied the condition that the Library of Congress must come and retrieve the pages themselves. This retrieval was videotaped by a friend.

Peikoff's personal narrative of the story and video of the manuscript pages' retrieval can be found on his website, Peikoff.com.

Allusions/references from other works

  • A worn paperback copy of the novel appears briefly, with negative context, in the movie Dirty Dancing.
  • In the original script of Cruel Intentions, Annette is reading The Fountainhead in the scene where she meets Sebastian at the swimming pool. When he compliments the book, she is surprised he knew the novel. Sebastian goes on to say, "I think the scene where Howard Roark makes love to Dominique Francon is the most romantic work in all literature." Annette replies, "Romantic? He rapes her." Sebastian finishes with, "That's a matter of opinion."
  • In the cinematic adaptation of the Philip K. Dick Novel A Scanner Darkly, Rory Cochrane's character, Charles Freck, can be seen holding the book during the course of a suicidally-derived hallucination.

Dirty Dancing is a 1987 musical and romance film directed by Emile Ardolino. ... Movie Poster for Cruel Intentions Cecile Caldwell (Selma Blair) Cruel Intentions is a 1999 film starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Ryan Phillippe, Selma Blair and Reese Witherspoon. ... A Scanner Darkly is a 1977 science fiction novel by Philip K. Dick. ...

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

The film made in 1949 is based on the book and stars Gary Cooper as Howard Roark, Patricia Neal as Dominique Francon, Raymond Massey as Gail Wynand and Kent Smith as Peter Keating. The film was directed by King Vidor, with the screenplay written by Ayn Rand. Gary Cooper and Eleanor Roosevelt, in 1950 Gary Cooper (May 7, 1901 – May 13, 1961) was a two-time Oscar-winning American film actor of British heritage, whose career spanned from the 1920s up until the year of his death. ... Patricia Neal and Roald Dahl, photographed by Carl Van Vechten, 1954 Patricia Neal (born January 20, 1926) is an Academy Award-winning American actress. ... Raymond Massey photographed by Carl Van Vechten Raymond Hart Massey (August 30, 1896 – July 29, 1983) was a Canadian actor. ... Dorothy McGuire and Kent Smith in Spiral Staircase Kent Smith (March 19, 1907 – April 23, 1985) was an American actor who had a lengthy career in film, theater and television. ... King Wallis Vidor (February 8, 1894 – November 1, 1982) was an American film director. ... Ayn Rand (IPA: , February 2 [O.S. January 20] 1905 – March 6, 1982), born Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum, was a Russian-American author and philosopher best known for developing the philosophy of Objectivism and for writing the novels We the Living, Anthem, The Fountainhead, and Atlas Shrugged. ...


  1. ^ Skousen, Mark. "The troubled economics of Ayn Rand.". URL accessed on 2006-03-28.
  2. ^ Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead (New York: Signet, 1996), pp. 681-682.
  3. ^ Cf. Leonard Peikoff, Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand (New York: Plume Books, 1993), p. 26.

2006 (MMVI) is a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... March 28 is the 87th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (88th in Leap years). ...

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