The Fountainhead: A Book Review
Ms. Devarshi Pandya
Department of Communication Skills, MEFGI, Rajkot
Ayn Raynd - a name lost in war of canonical and non canonical. Over the decades scholars have been struggling to define and divide the works under two banners of Canonical and non- Canonical, which as in turn bounded us with a pre-conceived notions of writing. Her works like “Atlas Shrugged”, “The Fountainhead” and “Anthem” have surpassed the boundaries set by her contemporaries of writing a philosophical novel. “Fountainhead” is one such work overlooked for years. The book was written in 1943, a period of clashes and depression in the world i.e. the period of World War II. “The Fountainhead” seems an obscure title at the first, since it’s the scene unimaginable. The novel embarks you on the journey of grounded and philosophical questions. Through the struggle of its characters it takes you to the land of choices and consequences on life.
The most fascinating characteristic feature of this work is the way it breaks one’s notion of a “Novel”. It is nearly impossible to decide the protagonists, plot, themes etc. It breaks free the boundaries of thinking and drops you at the vast island of your imagination. Each character has his/her own place in novel, they might be classified as minor and major characters but they hold a due significance in entire novel. The philosophy of “Objectivism” is what keeps you hold on the book forever. The protagonist of the novel, Howard Roark, the protagonist struggles and squeezes life out of him but doesn’t settle for less. He is a firm believer of his work of art and though left out, broken, treated like an animal in a society of “Soul-Slaved”, he stands firm facing the society as a hurricane and being adamant of his future.
The book is an inspiration to many as the characters portrayed are not only difficult but also logically impossible to imagine. In reality, one doesn’t find such man so stubborn and firm towards his work. The spirit of man and his work are shown at great heights in this book, rather than the shallow lives that we live today. The book is a must read, for it is a window to one’s own soul. It depicts the inner conflicts of man and about those choices that he makes. It narrates how easy it can be for a man to trade his self respect and soul, which can be found when Howard Roark says, “To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That's what everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul - would you understand why that's much harder?” The novel begins with Roark getting fired from his architecture college, for his “dreadful” work of art. The kind of sketches he draws is disgust for others. He is rejected by almost all great people he comes across. Surprisingly, he knows what fascinates people, what art will they like and he is much capable of making it, however he refuses to please others. “Art of Art sake” is executed meticulously in this novel when he states, ‘’I came here to say that I do not recognize anyone's right to one minute of my life. Nor to any part of my energy. Nor to any achievement of mine. No matter who makes the claim, how large their number or how great their need. I wished to come here and say that I am a man who does not exist for others."
The perseverance of Howard Roark for many readers is a complete soul awakening. The way he battles with his enemies, with sheer indifference and consistent effort, makes us aware of the real hard work and its reward. Characters like Gail Waynayd- a tragic hero, Ellsworth Toohey- A satanic figure who slithers around mediocre others, falsely whispering their greatness into their ears in an effort to own their souls, Peter Keating a superficial, mediocre man filled with false pride and social acceptance . Last but not the least the unconquerable, misunderstood, independent and fearless “WOMAN” Dominique Francon. Together they bring alive darker shades of life and its misery. It’s a book of wisdom, intellect and harsh reality.
Fountainhead, is an artistically embellished work which cannot be missed out, if someone is in the urge to relish something inspiring with potential to bring about change in his/her life forever.