Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Why I Love The Fountainhead

If you talked to me sometime mid-June or so, you would know that I raved and gushed over this book. While I doubt many people actually care about what goes on in my head (sad face), I've tried so hard to insert as many references and comments about The Fountainhead only to receive blank stares that I just HAVE to devote a post to my favorite book (thus far). 

If I could fall in love with a book–not hysterical, beautiful love, but destructive, all-consuming love–I would have done so with this book. There is something simultaneously revolting and entrancing about this novel; perhaps that is because I cannot fully understand it, and never will be able to. I could read passages from the book over and over again and never tire, never fully grasp, perpetually stare unseeingly and ponder the monumental words on the pages (I have probably over a hundred pages in the book dog-eared for later scrutiny).
I know quite a few people who shudder and gnash their teeth at the mention of this book, at the mention of the author and her subsequent views conveyed in her works. When I began reading this novel–and as I was reading it–I knew that it would probably go against everything I believe in. But as I was reading this book, I recognized a terrible truth in her doctrine. The Fountainhead basically clobbered me on the head and made me blink, dazed and awed, and see the entire world a new way. It made me wonder, what is integrity, exactly? What is honesty? Where is our world going?
Sure, this is a novel that is crafted around Rand's philosophy of objectivism in rejection of collectivism, but that doesn't mean that it was purely clinical–at least, not for me. The characters themselves reeled me in, elevating me to a strange, metaphysical world as I watched the events unfold from their eyes. I can't even picture these characters clearly in my head; they are merely blurry shapes with personalities and life philosophies larger than life itself. I don't think I have ever read a novel like that (you never forget your first...). I was with Roark every step of the way and watched his battles, his suffering; my heart was literally pounding when the jury was deciding the verdict of the Cortlandt explosion. I actually was almost in tears during his incredible, hefty testimony (I think more than four pages long if I recall correctly). And I really needed to stretch my fingers after I put down the book because I had been gripping the pages so tightly.
This book was exhausting, but truly worth reading. It is most definitely not for everyone, but I think that the reactions it yanks out of every reader are equally strong, one way or another. 
Hats off to Ayn Rand and her brilliant cast of characters. This book has vaulted its way to the very top of my favorites list, and now when someone asks me "What's your favorite book?", a previously stumping question, I can automatically answer with "The Fountainhead". 

And YES I definitely recognize that objectivism is probably not the most practical philosophy to follow!!! But, the application of objectivism to the creative arts is actually very important for at least a few people, otherwise art would be dead.

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