While Ayn Rand’s book, Atlas Shrugged, garners a lot of attention in these times, it must be mentioned that there was another that came before – The Fountainhead.
The Fountainhead is a 1943 novel by Ayn Rand. It was Rand’s first major literary success and brought her fame and financial success. More than 6.5 million copies of the book have been sold worldwide.
The Fountainhead’s protagonist, Howard Roark, is an individualistic young architect who chooses to struggle in obscurity rather than compromise his artistic and personal vision. The book follows his battle to practice what the public sees as modern architecture, which he believes to be superior, despite an establishment centered on tradition-worship. How others in the novel relate to Roark demonstrates Rand’s various archetypes of human character, all of which are variants between Roark, the author’s ideal man of independent-mindedness and integrity, and what she described as the “second-handers.” The complex relationships between Roark and the various kinds of individuals who assist or hinder his progress, or both, allow the novel to be at once a romantic drama and a philosophical work. Roark is Rand’s embodiment of the human spirit, and his struggle represents the triumph of individualism over collectivism.
It was made into a movie in 1949 starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal. Here’s Roark’s summation at his trial for destroying the building he designed:
Individualism vs. collectivism – that is what is on the ballot in November.