From the lesser mortal..

From the lesser mortal..
Fountainhead - Ayn Rand
I had stayed away from this book for years despite hearing good reviews with the stance that I will never be able to understand something that is so taxing on one's intellect. It doesn't do well to my ego, if I can’t comprehend what I read. But this one did quite a great deal to my ego.
I recently read Ayn Rand. Period. I am not going to try to review the book because I am just not going to be able to pay even an iota percentage of the kind of review it deserves.

Most of the characters in the book, the author's philosophy and ideas are left to be interpreted by the reader and that is what I love about the book. The book transports you to a whole new world. You think through every phrase in awe of the author's intelligence. Every character is crafted and the way the thoughts running in the minds of the characters is written in words is sheer brilliance.

The hero, Howard Roark, an architect is a man who pampers his ego, stands by his principles, gives no damn to anyone's views of him or his work. He is an ideal man who believes that every second thing on earth is only important after the self. The heroine, Dominique is a person with a great deal of strength and character , does what pleases her, firmly believes that she lives life only to meet a man of Roark's character. She hates out of love for her man, hates him because of a deeper hatred for the world which she thinks is not suited for people like herself and Roark.

Dominique believes that the world does not deserve the greatness of a person such as Roark. His success and good work will only eventually destroy and ruin him; It pains her to see somebody else destroy him, so she ventures to destroy him herself. She decides that she is not going to give the world the luxury of having people like herself and Roark. She does not even wish to give Roark herself, thus indicting defeat on to him and ruins herself in the attempt. Roark just lets her go for her to go out and realize for herself that if he is not one person who is going to be hurt or bogged by the society in any form. Any form of torture that the society thinks has subjected him to; he will only enjoy and emerge out of the struggle in his unique way.

The plot revolves around how the genius in Roark fights the stigma that society attaches to a student expelled from school, still would not give in to the society’s views, his struggle through the battle of life amongst characters like Keating. He builds masterpieces like Heller house, a Gas station and the Stoddard temple, highly criticized by the collectivist society. His love for his work makes him to allow his friend to take credit for his work but only letting him go to with the price that he leaves his work unaltered. When the friend defies, he strikes back in true style.

In a world of the mediocre as advocated by the Toohey’s, everyone is engulfed in opinions of others ; success and greatness is measured by opinions of others on your work and you. This is the world that Dominique despises and Roark just wouldn't care less to even hate. His character stands out when he comments on Wyanand's suggestion of the Stoddard Temple statue should have been his instead of Dominique, that he is too egotistic to be a symbol for anything. Characters like Wyanand, Cameroon complement the theme really well with strikingly distinct, individualistic characters.

The book preaches loud that self-pride and ego are the biggest virtues of mankind. Shouldn't the yardstick for one's degree of perfection be one's own previous best self. A job is best done only if the doer thinks that it is. Only when one feels in the deepest of one's conscience that it is not one's best, only then should others' opinions matter. You are your worst critic.

Reading the book, though in a slow pace, forces you to think; it hurts the egotist in you, just making you realize and hit you hard on your head and wake you up to say it loud and ringing in your ears that what so ever, you called as EGO thus far is insignificant and that the egotist in you is mere third class to the true EGOTIST in Roark. Count me in as one who got hit hard on the head. It awakens the rebel in you, if you thought you are independent and individualist, living the life that you had dreamt up for yourself , the author shocks you with her ideal woman , a character you get jealous of.

Understanding the characters in the book lead you to defy the meanings that you had conjured up in your minds and the beliefs you held strong thus far when you contemplated words like egotist, individualism, perfectionism and the likes. If you read this in your teens, it sure is going to inspire you to be an architect. If you read it in your late twenties, it sure puts the “I” in you to shame.

Now, after enough ranting of the niceties of the book, this is to tell my blog that I am frustrated after reading the book.
P.S: I am not exaggerating one bit, when I say, I wrote this blog in bits and pieces of scraps whenever I thought of this book and its characters almost for a couple of weeks after I read it. I took a great deal of effort to edit this piece and present it in this blog trying to capture all that I wanted to say.
Yeah, For Whatever it may be worth.

1 Response
  1. Samsung Says:

    One thing that is significant about Dominique's character is the way she wants to be detached from all wordly pleasures. This becomes evident when she says she threw away a pricely statue that she got from Rome(?) because she liked it very much and believed that if she did not destroy it, she might become dependent on it. Similar is the case with her job in The Banner. She continues in the job because she does not care about the job. In the same sense, it could also be thought that she does not want to be dependent on Roark. If Roark succeeds , then she will love him for all her worth and she cannot live without him. Thats probably a reason why she probably wanted to destroy him in the beginning.Eventually though, it can be seen that she becomes weak!!!

    I personally believe that Ayn Rand does not care much about the Fiction part in the book. Not disregarding her lierary ability and her class, but she wants to put forth ideas which will make people think about themselves and about the actual society around them.The beauty of this book is that even after 50 odd years of its first publishing, it still captivates the reader and has the ability to make people relate astonishingly with their surroundings!!

    Overall a nice review of the book.