Book Review: The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand

Pooja Krishna H. A., II Year B.A. English.

When I first got this book as a birthday gift, I looked at its length and thought, “Wow. I’m never going to read this”. For almost 2 years, the book sat untouched in my cupboard. Then, one fine day, as I was dusting my cupboard, this caught my eye, and since I had been bored stiff for some time, I decided I could give it a read.

Let me tell you, that was the best decision I could have made.

Six hundred and ninety seven pages of pure genius, that’s what The Fountainhead is. Ayn Rand has done an excellent job of portraying the pressure society places on a young man who refuses to give up his visions and morals, facing, along the way, various people who want to destroy him, including a woman who claims to love him.

The Fountainhead has everything a reader can possibly like: power, greed, love, betrayal, lust, life and all its perfections and imperfections. It has a young architect who society refuses to accept (Howard Roark), a beautiful woman in love with what she can never have (Dominique Francon), another young architect at the top of his field (Peter Keating), a captain not in control of his sinking ship (Gail Wynand), and so many more beautifully woven characters.

I am not going to lie. This book is not a breeze to read. It is not one of those books that will impact you in a small way for a long time.  It is not a casual read that you can forget as you move on to another one. It is not one which makes you laugh at the funny moments and cry at the sad ones.

It is like a hurricane. It hits you at your weakest point, tears apart all your carefully-built impressions and perceptions of the world, and settles like a scar in your heart; each time you are reminded of it, you remember the pain it brought you. It is a book that you will fall in love with, and not forget for a long, long, time. It is like an emotional punch to the gut.

Reading this book is a lot like finishing a piece of homework. You trudge through it, but each time you look up, you realize that there is a long way to go. It requires some determination to start, a little more to follow through, and a lot more to finally reach the end. The satisfaction, though, and the sweet joy that courses through your chest as you realize that you have finally finished it, is worth all the trouble.

In the end, the world of readers boils down, I realized, to two kinds. Those who are in love with ‘The Fountainhead’, and those who would not touch it with a ten foot pole. I am happy to say that I am a part of the former.

Does this book have controversies? Yes. Does it make you want to smash your head into a wall at times? Maybe. Does it make you weep with relief, joy and sorrow? Definitely. All in all, I think that ‘The Fountainhead’ is fantastic and a must-read for die-hard readers of all genres.


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