I picked up a copy of Ayn Rand’s epic novel, “The Fountainhead” because she had a reputation as an excellent, even brilliant, writer. I knew she was a philosopher and an intellect. I just wanted to read a well-written book. I wasn’t aware, though, of her obsession with her idea of the ideal man. If the introduction were any indication of her writing, I would not have bothered to read her book. Eager, I forged ahead, and was pleasantly surprised.
She started writing it in 1935, but it was several years before it would be published in 1943. Wartime restrictions delayed production until 1948. Would you believe me if I told you that the book had twelve rejections before finally being published by The Bobbs-Merrill Company? There were issues—too intellectual, too controversial—and would not sell because no audience existed for it. She says, That was the difficult part of its history; difficult for me to bear. I mention it here for the sake of any other writer of my kind who might have to face the same battle—as a reminder of the fact that it can be done.
Twenty-five years later, when she wrote the introduction that addressed the mainstay of her book, no one, not even her, believed the number of years it had been in print. Now, in 2013, it is still being reprinted and read by untold numbers.
Rand’s basic premise, is man is an entity unto himself. Her exalted view of man as a heroic being that pervades her fiction is underpinned by her revolutionary moral code of rational egoism. Her distinctive view that moral values are objective—as objective as the laws of science—has its root in her discoveries about how man acquires and validates his knowledge.
In this introduction she quotes from The Goal of My Writing, an address she gave at Lewis and Clark College, on October 1, 1963: This is the motive and purpose of my writing: the projection of an ideal man. The portrayal of a moral ideal, as my ultimate literary goal, as an end in itself—to which any didactic, intellectual or philosophical values contained in a novel are only the means.
She says, I have been asked whether I have changed in these past twenty-five years. No, I am the same—only more so. Have my ideas changed? No, my fundamental convictions, my view of life and of man, have never changed, from as far back as I can remember, but my knowledge of their applications has grown, in scope and in precision. What is my present evaluation of “The Fountainhead?” I am as proud of it as I was on the day when I finished writing it.
In an overview of The Fountainhead, possibly the most influential and controversial novel of ideas in American history, presents a philosophy of vital interest to anyone seeking an understanding of our present-day culture. As relevant and exciting now as it was for those who clamored to read it when it first burst upon the scene, this book continues to focus worldwide attention on its brilliant author, who pointedly asks, “Is it possible to be an individual in today’s world?”
A phenomenal bestseller, The Fountainhead brought Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism to a worldwide audience. As original today as it was when it was written, this novel reinvents the modern-day hero. There is a 75th anniversary edition which includes a special afterword by Leonard Peikoff and excerpts from Rand’s own notes about the book.
Born: Alisa Alisa Zinov’yevna Rosenbaum
February 2, 1905
Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
United States Citizen 1931
Died: March 6, 1982 (aged 77)
New York City, New York
Pen Name: Ayn Rand
Alma Mater: Petrograd State University
Notable work(s): The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged
Notable award (s): Prometheus Award – Hall of fame
1983 Atlas Shrugged
Spouse: Frank O’Connor Married April 15, 1929 – November 7, 1979 (his death)
Have you read this epic novel? What did you think about the young, twenty-two at the time, Howard Roark, almost architect?