There are novels that you read for sheer entertainment. There are novels which take you on a journey into another world. There are novels with suspense so gripping that you can’t let go of them till you finish. And then, there are books that simply inspire.
The Fountainhead belongs to the last category. It is so beautiful a book that I don’t feel qualified enough to review it. The book surely inspires, but it inspires each person differently. This is how it inspires me.
I liked many aspects of the book. Each aspect was represented by one of the Fountainhead’s protagonists. Each represented an ideology of living, ideologies which can’t be categorized as valid or invalid. The book exposes you to so many facets of human nature that it leaves you heavy with thoughts.The egotism redefined by Roark was at the forefront. I personally belonged to a school of thought that despises the whole concept of egotism but this book made me rethink my stand. Is altruism positive in its truest sense? Is it not breeding a world of dependants? Why is living for one’s own self considered selfish? The book preaches egotism as the freedom of an individual, of morals, creativity and thought. All it implies is respect for one’s own space and that for someone else’s.
Dominique Francon symbolized the spirit of freedom. Frankly, she did appear eccentric to me when she made her first appearance. The more you read about her, the more mesmerized you are by the reason she lives for – it being no reason at all. The hardships which she takes upon herself so willfully to reach where Roark already is leave you perplexed, until you discover why.
The third most intriguing character of the book according to me was Mr. Gail Wynand, a bully who threw his weight around just to challenge the integrity of an individual. The self-made millionaire showed his new side, or rather, hidden side, after he tied his knot with the woman who he wanted to possess, who he later loved. He was one of the two people Roark loves in this world, for his courage to stand up on his own, against the majority. He had power and knew how to use it to manipulate and break individuals or organisations, the reasons for which changed as the book progressed.
Apart from the three discussed above, all others were second-handers. They were everything which these people were not. The book describes them as parasites, who feed on each other. They do what the world wants them to do, and not what they want to do themselves. But they have the power of collectivism, the power which suppresses individualism, breaks its back so that it cannot stand again. The second-handers are not the villains. They are just helpless against the force of the majority. The have sold their soul which is the easiest thing to do. They loathe the creators just because they cannot be them.
I am not aware of which category I belong to. I am not an altruist, nor an egotist. I am not exactly dependant, but I don’t know if I am completely independent. All I know is that this book has got me thinking, given me a direction. Hopefully, when I go in that direction, I will find my answer.