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Acquire an understanding of the novel with Critical Essays DOWNLOAD PDF .. For further information on Ayn Rand and The Fountainhead, check out the. The Fountainhead has become an enduring piece of literature, more popular now than when published in On the surface, it is a story of one man, Howard. published in by Russian immigrant Ayn Rand ( – ). The novel centers on an uncompromising young architect named Howard Roark. When we .
Not in United States? Choose your country's store to see books available for purchase. The revolutionary literary vision that sowed the seeds of Objectivism, Ayn Rand's groundbreaking philosophy, and brought her immediate worldwide acclaim. She has a subtle and ingenious mind and the capacity of writing brilliantly, beautifully, bitterly This is the only novel of ideas written by an American woman that I can recall. The Cabin at the End of the World.
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The High Mountains of Portugal. Yann Martel. A Strangeness in my Mind. Her love for the West—especially America—was fueled by the Viennese operettas and American and German films, which the Soviets temporarily allowed to be shown.
When Rand and her family returned from the Crimea, she entered the University of Petrograd to study philosophy and history, graduating in She entered the State Institute for Cinema Arts in to study screenwriting, as a step to becoming a novelist.
Immigration to the United States In late , Ayn Rand obtained permission to leave the Soviet Union for a visit to relatives in the United States, on the pretext of learning the American film business. After six months with relatives in Life and Background of the Author 3 Chicago, she moved to Hollywood to pursue a career as a screenwriter.
On her second day there, she had a chance meeting with her favorite American director, Cecil B. DeMille, who took her to the set of his epic film, The King of Kings, and gave her a job, first as an extra, then as a script reader.
Career Highlights After struggling for several years at various non-writing jobs, including one in the wardrobe department at the RKO film studio, Rand sold her first screenplay, Red Pawn, to Universal Studios in In the same year, Rand saw her first stage play, Night of January 16th, produced in Hollywood and then on Broadway.
Her first novel, We the Living, was completed in In , Rand devoted a few weeks to write her novella, Anthem, which was soon published in England but was not published in the United States until , ten years later.
Although positively reviewed, neither We the Living nor Anthem garnered high sales. Not until the publication of The Fountainhead did Ayn Rand achieve fame. Rand began writing The Fountainhead in , taking seven years to complete the book. In the hero of The Fountainhead, architect Howard Roark, she presented for the first time the kind of hero whose depiction was the chief goal of her writing: Although published in , The Fountainhead made history by becoming a bestseller two years later, through word-of-mouth, and it gained for its author lasting recognition as a champion of individualism.
Ayn Rand returned to Hollywood in late to write the screenplay for The Fountainhead, but war-time restrictions delayed production until In , Rand moved permanently back to New York City and devoted herself fulltime to the completion of the novel Atlas Shrugged. Despite extremely negative reviews, Atlas Shrugged quickly became a best-seller.
Objectivism After the publication of Atlas Shrugged in , Ayn Rand realized that she would have to identify the philosophy that made her heroes possible. For the remaining years of her life, Rand devoted herself to nonfiction writing, penning and editing a number of articles for her periodicals. These articles later appeared in numerous philosophic collections, including ethics The Virtue of Selfishness , politics Capitalism: At the time of her death in , Rand was working on a television miniseries of Atlas Shrugged.
A controversial novelist and philosopher—especially in academic circles—Ayn Rand attained widespread recognition, as indicated by a survey placing Atlas Shrugged as second only to the Bible as the most influential book among American readers. A Sense of Life, also serve as proof of her influence. Having grown up in the totalitarian dictatorship of the Soviet Union, holding an impassioned belief in political freedom and the rights of the individual, Ayn Rand wrote The Fountainhead as a tribute to the creative freethinker.
Its hero, Howard Roark, is an innovative architect, a man whose brilliant and radically new designs are not understood and are rejected by the majority of society. Roark, like many inventors and creative thinkers of history, struggles to win acceptance for his ideas against the tradition-bound masses, who follow established norms and are fearful of change.
The book is about the conflict between those who think for themselves and those who allow others to dominate their lives. According to Ayn Rand, the goal of her writing is the presentation of an ideal man.
Howard Roark is the first such figure in her novels. His independence, his commitment to his own rational thinking, and his integrity mark him as a distinctive Ayn Rand hero. Ayn Rand presents her heroes as ends in themselves, inviting her readers to simply witness and savor the sight of human greatness. Which, incidentally, is the greatest value I could ever offer a reader. She points out that, as a benign secondary consequence, a reader witnessing the life of Howard Roark may be inspired to seek his own heroic achievements.
Roark, as a freethinking individual, is opposed by sundry collectivists—some who believe that a person should conform to others, some Introduction to the Novel 7 who believe that a person should rebel against others, and some who believe that, politically, we should have a Fascist or Communist dictatorship in which the individual is utterly subordinate to the will of the people. Regarding this aspect of the book, Rand sets her hero against various collectivist ideas that existed—and to some degree continue to exist—in the United States.
The obvious example of collectivism in The Fountainhead is the political one. He holds that an individual has no value in himself but exists solely to serve his brothers. As Ayn Rand wrote the novel, in the s, collectivism was rapidly engulfing the world. First the Communists took over her native Russia, then the Fascists came to power in Italy, then Hitler and the National Socialists took political control of Germany. On September 1, , Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, as allies, invaded Poland, plunging mankind into the most destructive war of its history.
In the early s, collectivism appeared to be on the threshold of military conquest of large portions of the globe. Before the war, there was ideological support in the United States for both the Communists and the Nazis; even after the war, support among the intellectuals continued for Communism and does to this day.
Ayn Rand wrote The Fountainhead, at one level, as a fervent warning to her fellow man of the unmitigated horrors of collectivism, whether of the Nazi, Fascist, or Communist variety; the evils that result in concentration camps; the extermination of millions of innocent victims; and the precipitation of world war.
Ayn Rand witnessed these horrors firsthand in Europe; she wrote The Fountainhead, in part, to prevent their recurrence in America. But The Fountainhead is not fundamentally about politics. The book warns against a more subtle manifestation of collectivism, one that underlies the political danger and makes that danger possible.
Although all human beings have minds, many people choose not to use theirs, looking instead to others for guidance. Many people prefer to be led in their personal lives by an authority figure—be it parents, teachers, clergymen, or others. Those who prefer to be led by authority figures are conformists, refusing the responsibility of thought and self-directed motivation, taking the path of least resistance in life. The picture is frightening. Keating, in many ways an average American status seeker, desires acclaim from others.
In exchange for social approval, he is willing to sacrifice any and all of his personal convictions. Ayn Rand shows that conformity, a widespread phenomenon in contemporary American society, is one of the underlying causes of collectivist dictatorship. In The Fountainhead, Rand also shows that nonconformity, often thought to be the opposite of blind obedience, is merely a variation on the same theme.
The nonconformist, too, places the beliefs of others first, before his own thinking; he merely reacts against them, instead of following them. It is no accident that Ayn Rand shows these rebels as followers of Toohey, because nonconformists, placing others first, always cluster into private enclaves that inevitably demand rigid obedience to their own set of rules. Nonconformists value freethinking no more than does the herd of conformists. The nonconformist characters of the novel are fictional examples of historical movements of the early twentieth century.
They are predominantly writers and artists who rebel against grammar, coherent sentences, and representational art in the same way that the surrealists, expressionists, and Dadaists did in actual fact. This band of real-life rebels, not surprisingly, centered in Weimar, Germany, in the s. Outwardly, some opposed Hitler. But at a deeper level, their blind rebelliousness against others and their slavish conformity to their own little subgroup fostered a herd mentality similar to that of the conformists.
The nonconformists, too, were part of the culture that spawned the Nazis. The issue of conformity in the story relates to another real-life movement of the time. The Fountainhead takes place in America in the s and s.
Roark and his mentor, Henry Cameron, are early designers of the modern style. Although the book is not historical fiction, and the lives of Cameron and Roark are not based on the lives of Introduction to the Novel 9 real-life individuals, their struggles parallel the battles waged by Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. In the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, the architectural style that still dominated American building was Classical.
American architects largely copied Greek and Roman designs or those of other historical periods such as the Renaissance. Louis Sullivan — was one of the first to build in what became known as the modern style. Generally held to be the father of modern architecture and, in particular, of the skyscraper, Sullivan waged a long battle for his ideas against conventional standards. Cameron and Roark, in the novel, struggle against characters like the Dean of Stanton Institute, who believes that all the great ideas in architecture have been discovered already by the designers of the past, and that contemporary architects are simply to copy those ideas.
Sullivan and Wright, in real life, battled against similar instances of conformity. In her previous novels, Ayn Rand had also glorified the heroism of the freethinking human mind, although in different forms. Her first novel, We the Living, published in , tells the story of three individuals who dare to think for themselves in the Communist dictatorship of Soviet Russia. Its heroine, Kira Arguonova, is similar to the author; she is an independently thinking young woman, fiercely opposed to the totalitarian state in which she exists.
But Kira desires to be an engineer in a society in which neither her bourgeois background nor her freethinking mind is welcome. Despite being an outstanding student, she is expelled from engineering school. The story focuses on her relationships with two men—Leo Kovalensky, the aristocrat whom she loves, and Andrei Taganov, the Communist who loves her. Leo is a brilliant young scholar, but his aristocratic family and individualistic views leave him no future in the Soviet Union.
We the Living shows the fate of freethinking men and women in a totalitarian state. Her second book, the novella, Anthem, published in , also takes place in a collectivist dictatorship—but in an unspecified future.
With independent thought stifled, this society has lost all technological progress and reverted to a primitive condition. The hero reinvents the electric light, but is condemned to death for the crime of thinking for himself.
In both love and work, he thinks independently, refusing to obey, unwilling to surrender the things most precious to him. Ayn Rand shows in Anthem that all the values that make human life valuable and joyous come from the individual, not from society.
In both We the Living and Anthem, the independent heroes are pitted against a collectivist dictatorship; in both books the theme is political, emphasizing the necessity of freedom for human progress and happiness.
But the theme in The Fountainhead is deeper and more complex. It is psychological and epistemological. It concerns the way in which individuals choose to use their minds—whether they think and value independently or whether they allow their lives to be dominated, in one form or another, by the beliefs of others. The story of innovative architect Howard Roark, and his lifelong battle against a society committed to traditional forms of design, The Fountainhead glorifies the great original thinkers of history.
It shows what happens when the thinkers go on strike—when the Howard Roark types, the inventors, scientists, and men of independent judgment— refuse to practice their professions in a world that expects them to comply. Introduction to the Novel 11 The history of The Fountainhead is like an example of its own theme.
It was rejected by twelve publishers. Some thought that it was too intellectual, that there was no market for such a book among a reading public that was interested only in stories of physical action. Others rejected it because it glorified individualism and repudiated the collectivist ideals so popular among modern intellectuals. But Ayn Rand refused to alter her story or dilute her theme. Finally, the book was read by Archibald Ogden, an editor at Bobbs-Merrill.
Like an independent-minded Ayn Rand hero, Ogden loved the book and fought for it against dissenting thought in the company. Despite the opposition, Ogden staked his career on this book. It was published in and made history several years later by becoming a best-seller through word of mouth.
To this day, it sells well over a hundred thousand copies every year. A poll conducted jointly in by the Library of Congress and the Book-of-the-Month Club showed that Atlas Shrugged was the second most influential book in the lives of the respondents behind only the Bible and showed The Fountainhead among the top twenty.
Today, The Fountainhead has achieved the status of a modern classic. It is taught in college literature and philosophy courses, as well as in high school English classes.
The Fountainhead continues to be an example of its own theme: But, in principle and in the long run, truth wins out. Its theme of glorifying the independent mind not only captures the essence of the American spirit but, more fundamentally, expresses the deep human yearning for freedom.
The Fountainhead is a theme and a novel that will live forever. It chronicles the struggles of the innovative architect Howard Roark in his effort to achieve success on his own terms.
After leaving Stanton, Roark goes to work for Henry Cameron, an elderly and cantankerous genius, whose ideas are far ahead of their time. Cameron is a commercial failure, but an uncompromising man of integrity.
He is one of the first to design buildings that tower over others, and the first to insist that a tall building should look tall. His hostility only increases the difficulty that a public fearful of progress has in recognizing his genius.
After graduating from Stanton, Keating works for Guy Francon, the most successful and prestigious architect in the country. Francon is a phony, who teaches Keating only about manipulating and influencing people, not about building honestly and effectively.
Francon has a beautiful young daughter, Dominique, who possesses a mind of her own. Dominique writes a column devoted to design and interior decorating in The New York Banner, a daily newspaper owned by the powerful publisher, Gail Wynand. Dominique is a passionate idealist who recognizes and reveres the human potential for greatness. But finding little of it in the world— indeed, finding everywhere the triumph of vulgar mediocrity—she Introduction to the Novel 13 becomes disillusioned. Dominique believes that true nobility has no chance to succeed in a world dominated by the mindless and the corrupt.
She recognizes and loathes the unscrupulous pandering engaged in by Keating and her father—and states her convictions openly. But Keating, smitten with the way in which her beauty and elegance impress other people, proposes marriage. Though not adept at design, Keating knows someone who is: Howard Roark, whose love of buildings is so great that he cannot refuse any opportunity to improve one. Roark helps Keating in his design work.
Roark designs a brilliant and simple plan for his building, to which Keating adds his customary ostentatious ornamentation. Keating believes his eclectic hodgepodge of conflicting styles has no chance to win; he must get the partnership now, while Francon still trusts him.
He berates Heyer, screaming at the old man to retire, causing the stroke the doctors had feared. Heyer dies, having left the charming Keating his money. Keating wins the Cosmo-Slotnick competition. Francon makes him partner. For a long period of time, Roark cannot find employment with any architect. Eventually, he is hired by John Erik Snyte, an eclectic builder who is not wedded to any specific school of design.
Snyte is content to give the public whatever it desires. He employs specialists in various schools of design—Classical, Gothic, Renaissance—and wants Roark to be his modernist. Snyte allows his designers freedom to design in their specialties, but then combines their ideas into one finished product of clashing principles.
Roark opens his own office, but his designs are too revolutionary, and he receives very few commissions. When Roark turns down the commission for the important Manhattan Bank Building rather than permit the adulteration of his design, he is destitute. He closes his office temporarily and goes to work in a granite quarry in Connecticut.
The quarry is owned by Guy Francon. That summer, Dominique vacations at the family estate bordering the property. Upon meeting Roark, Dominique notices immediately the taut lines of his body and the scornful look of his eyes. Though at a conscious level, Dominique believes he may be an ex-convict like others of the work gang, at some deeper level she knows better. The way he holds himself and moves, his posture and mannerisms, his countenance and the look in his eyes all convey a proud dignity that would not stoop to the commission of crimes.
She is deeply drawn to him and initiates a pursuit that results in their passionate lovemaking.
But despite her profound attraction and aggressive pursuit, she is afraid of a love relationship with him. She ardently desires their sexual relationship, but almost as intensely fears it. Roark leaves the quarry and returns to New York.
Even then, he finds himself thinking of Dominique. The construction of the Enright House brings Roark recognition and further commissions. Anthony Cord, a successful Wall Street businessman, hires him to build his first office building, a fifty-story skyscraper in the center of Manhattan. Kent Lansing, a member of the board formed to build a luxury hotel on Central Park South, wants Roark and fights for him.
Eventually, he wins, and Roark signs a contract to build the Aquitania Hotel. Although construction of the Aquitania is eventually stopped due to legal wrangles, Kent Lansing vows to win control of the project and complete it. Toohey, who seeks power over the architectural profession, attempts to end the career of this individualist who will not obey. He influences a wealthy lackey, Hopton Stoddard, to hire Roark to build a temple.
Because Roark is an atheist, Toohey coaches Stoddard regarding the best means to approach Roark to build a religious structure. Roark— in your own way. I can see that in your buildings. He designs a masterpiece for the Stoddard Temple, as Toohey knew he would.
He hires Steven Mallory to do the sculpture for the Temple. Mallory is a brilliant young talent, who sculpts in the Classic Greek style, emphasizing the nobility and grandeur of man.
His relationship with Roark, however, inspires him. After his work on the Stoddard Temple, although still suffering from moments of despair, Mallory never again reaches the depths of torment he is in when Roark meets him.
But Toohey, as was his plan, manipulates both Stoddard and the public. The Stoddard Temple is torn down, and Roark is condemned as an apostate.
Dominique, in agony at the attack on the hero she loves, marries Keating—the most despicable individual she can find—in an attempt to kill off in herself that greatness of soul that enables her to love only man at his highest and best. It convinces her that she was right in wanting to avoid entanglement in a romantic relationship with Roark.
His creative work and uncompromising character have no chance in a world that merely follows the beliefs it has been taught. He will be destroyed, just as Cameron was. This was, and remains, her deepest belief. Given her values, Dominique must love Roark and everything about the human potential that he represents. She loves man the noble hero.
Therefore, the only choice, as Dominique sees it, is to kill off in herself her capacity for hero worship. In so doing, she can escape her agony when presented with the destruction of greatness. The love of virtue and beauty, she hopes, cannot survive absorption into a life filled with corruption and ugliness. With full conscious intent, she marries Peter Keating. Keating and Dominique are married for twenty months.
The powerful Wynand is a man of mixed premises. Like Dominique, he worships man the noble hero, but, unlike her, he has sold his soul, publishing The Banner, a yellow-press scandal sheet, gaining him wealth and influence. But on her way to Reno to obtain the divorce, Dominique stops in the small town of Clayton, Ohio, where Roark is building a small department store.
She has not seen him since her marriage to Keating. Roark notices from her questions that she is still concerned with other people and their ability to hurt—or even observe—him. She tells him that she wishes to remain with him in this small town. She says they can marry, that she will wash his clothes and cook his meals, and that he will give up architecture and work in a store.
Out of consideration for her, he tries not to laugh. He tells her if he were cruel, he would accept her offer just to see how long it would take her to beg him to return to architecture. She understands. Roark knows that Dominique is not ready to stay with him.
She boards the train for Reno and, after her divorce, marries Gail Wynand. Holding the same basic premises as Dominique, it is logical that he loves her. He becomes fanatically jealous of sharing Dominique with others.
Wynand wishes to build a home in the country as an isolated fortress, so he will not have to see Dominique among the people of the city. So Wynand hires Roark to build his home. Roark receives more commissions and becomes better known. One of the more prominent commissions he receives prior to his relationship with Wynand is for the Monadnock Valley Resort.
The owners of the resort conceive it as a swindle. They sell two hundred percent of it. They are certain it will fail. They want it to fail. They choose Roark as the worst architect they can find. They hire him because of it. People come, and the resort is successful. The owners are arrested for fraud, but Roark is not involved in the legal case.
The simple fact, however, that Roark made money for people who did not want to make money impresses businessmen, and Roark receives commissions. Keating knows he cannot solve the problems of design, and does not attempt to. Instead, he brings the specifications to Roark. Keating requests that Roark design it and allow Keating to take the credit for it. Roark knows that he can do it and is eager to. He also knows that he could never get approved by Toohey, who is the behind-the-scenes power on the project.
Roark agrees only on the condition that the buildings be erected exactly as he designs them; Keating agrees. Keating will receive the recognition, the money, and whatever other benefits society may confer on a man—but Roark will build Cortlandt.
Roark designs a masterpiece, Keating submits it as his, and Toohey accepts it. When Roark returns, he dynamites the defaced masterpiece and allows himself to be arrested. Whereas years earlier, she had been afraid that society would reject him, now she is not afraid to help Roark in an act for which society may imprison him.
Roark knows that Dominique is now ready for their relationship. Believing that his papers mold public opinion, Wynand defends Roark vociferously in The Banner. When Wynand is out of town in a desperate attempt to save an advertising contract, Toohey strikes. Toohey, who writes a column for The Banner, has schemed for years to take over the paper.
Gradually, he has maneuvered his followers into key editorial positions, and they all come out against Roark. When Wynand fires them, the union, controlled by Toohey, goes on strike.
To save the paper, Wynand is forced to reverse his stand on the Cortlandt dynamiting. At his trial, Roark defends the right of the creator to the product of his effort. Roark points out that it was he who designed Cortlandt and that he was not paid for his work.
The only price—that it be erected as designed—was not paid. He points out that, down through the ages, creative men have often developed beneficial new ideas and products, only to be rejected by their societies.
Despite social opposition, the creators move ahead, carrying the rest of mankind with them. Cortlandt Homes is the product of his mind; it is his creation and belongs to him.
If society wants it—as it does—justice requires that his asking price be paid. It must be built as he designed it. The jury understands his position and votes to acquit him. Roger Enright buys Cortlandt Homes from the government and hires Roark to build it; Wynand, as long planned, hires Roark to build the Wynand Building, the tallest skyscraper in the city.
Roark has achieved commercial success on his own terms. Roark sees his ideas finally winning in the field of architecture. After decades of the battle that he and Cameron fought, their new methods are ultimately gaining recognition. Dominique, seeing that she was mistaken in believing that a genius like Roark has no chance in a corrupt world, is liberated from her fears and is finally free to marry him. Wynand is psychologically and morally crushed by the realization that success did not require him to sell his soul to the masses, that his professional life was founded on a lie.
When Toohey emerges victorious from the strike, prepared to dictate editorial policy on The Banner, Wynand shuts down the paper rather than allow Toohey to control it. Keating, who once enjoyed acclaim, now finds that his career in architecture is finished. He is a rotted-out shell of a man. List of Characters Howard Roark The hero of the story. His independent functioning serves as a standard by which to judge the other characters—either they are like Roark or they allow others, in one form or another, to control their lives.
Roark is the embodiment of the great innovative thinkers who have carried mankind forward but are often opposed by their societies. He is an aged, bitter curmudgeon—and a commercial failure—but he is the greatest architect of his day. He is an early modernist, one of the first to design skyscrapers and a man of unbending integrity.
Roark admires Cameron as he does no one else in the novel. His life exemplifies the fate of many innovators who have discovered new knowledge or invented a revolutionary product, only to be repudiated by society. Dominique Francon An impassioned idealist who loves only man the hero.
Dominique, though a brilliant woman, holds a pessimistic philosophy throughout much of the novel that prevents her from fulfilling her vast potential.
A phony architect, who achieves commercial success by two means: His great financial success despite his unprincipled methods provides some of the evidence on which Dominique originally bases her conclusion that the world is essentially corrupt.
He lacks the backbone to ever stand alone, and spends his life forever seeking the approval of others. He even codifies his toadying attitude into a formal principle: She seeks respectability above all.
She teaches her son to put the values of others before his own. By encouraging her son to surrender his mind to others, she is indirectly responsible for causing his ultimate self-destruction. Ellsworth Toohey Architectural critic and spiritual power broker.
Toohey is simultaneously a cult leader acquiring a private army of slavish followers and a Marxist intellectual preaching socialism to the masses. The villain of the novel, Toohey represents collectivism in its most undiluted form. Catherine is an honest girl of only modest intellect and ambition, but she loves Peter sincerely.
Gail Wynand Powerful publisher of vulgar tabloids. Wynand combines a mixture of independent and dependent methods of functioning. In his personal life, he lives by his own judgment, but he panders shamelessly to the masses in his career.
Though loyal to Wynand, his abject conformity makes him easy prey for Toohey. He embodies the trite conventionality of popular culture. Introduction to the Novel 21 Austen Heller Newspaper columnist who defends the rights of the individual. That he gives money generously to help political prisoners around the globe shows his respect for the independent mind.
He gives Roark his first commission by hiring him to build a private home, then remains a trusted friend. Steven Mallory Sculptor of significant ability, who portrays man the exalted hero in his figures.
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Mike Donnigan Construction worker. He knows construction, scorns social opinion, and goes by his own judgment. Roger Enright Innovative businessman.
He conceives a new idea for an apartment building—the Enright House—and hires Roark to build it. Lansing is an example, as is Roark on a larger scale, of the unswerving dedication that an innovative thinker must possess if he is to reach his goals against a society opposed to change. The Dean of Stanton Institute A traditionalist in architecture. His commitment to the established rules of design and unwillingness to consider new ideas make him the first of the many conformists with whom Roark comes into conflict.
Holcolmbe believes Renaissance is the only appropriate style of building for the modern world. He embodies a different type of conformity than Francon, who adheres to the Classical school of design. Both he and Francon are rigid dogmatists unwilling to consider the new ideas of modern architecture.
John Erik Snyte An eclectic in the field of architecture. Snyte refuses to cling slavishly to one school of design; instead, he combines clashing styles into a hodgepodge of contradictory elements.
As a man willing to give the public anything it wants, no matter how vulgar or inane, Snyte represents conformity in yet another form. Gordon L.
Prescott A phony architect who seeks to impress people by spouting the terminology of Hegelian dialectic. He is not concerned with building effectively, but merely with winning adulation from a gaping public. Lois Cook Another mindless rebel and follower of Toohey. She is an avant-garde writer who dispenses with coherent sentence structure.
She and Gus Webb, in blindly rebelling against the values of society, are as controlled by other people as is an abject conformist like Keating. Introduction to the Novel 23 Character Map Dominique Francon an impassioned idealist; loves only man the hero; Roark's greatest admirer r to e ath Gail Wynand Guy Francon publisher of vulgar tabloids; lives by his own judgment in his personal life, but panders to the masses in his career lovers works for phony architect; achieves commercial success by copying great Classical designers and by wining and dining prospective clients with wit and charm Peter Keating Henry Cameron arried gaged s ate or nt to be m sm las to rc Howard Roark the novel's hero; his stuggle to succeed as an architect on his own terms forms the essence of the novel's conflict tri es in lo e en ve, onc mother to a great architect rejected for his innovative genius; a bitter and angry old man me for friends the opposite of Roark; forever seeks the approval of others me f br ma iefly rrie d Mrs.
Part One: Roark, however, is a modernist designer and a man who thinks for himself. Even though he recognizes that the career path ahead of him will be arduous, he laughs at his expulsion from school. People notice Howard Roark when he walks on the streets; he notices no one. In fact, he often arouses resentment in strangers, who somehow cannot explain what they feel when they see Roark. But Roark could walk the streets naked without concern; he has no regard for the evaluations of others.
Roark boards at the home of Mrs. Keating, whose son, Peter, graduates from Stanton with high honors on the same day that Roark is expelled. Keating is handsome, charming, and glib. Keating is utterly dependent on others, and he is faced with a difficult decision. He has won a scholarship to the prestigious Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris.
Because either option will greatly impress people, he has no basis upon which to choose. He comes to Roark with the dilemma. Although he would never state it publicly, Keating realizes that Roark understands more of importance about architecture than do his professors, and that Roark loves the subject in a way that his professors do not. Roark tells him that he has made a mistake, that he should not look to others for guidance regarding the decisions of his own life.
He tells Keating that an individual must know what he wants in life. Their conversation is interrupted by the arrival of Mrs. Keating, who makes it clear that she does not want her son in Paris, an ocean away. The decision is made for him: He will go to New York to work for Francon and Heyer. Roark and Keating pursue separate careers in architecture in New York City. Keating works for Guy Francon, a mediocre architect but a man who is possessed of all the social graces.
Francon knows little about building, but a great deal about matching his ties with his handkerchiefs and his wines with his foods. He does not gain clients by the brilliance of his designs, but by the phony warmth of his smile. From Francon, Keating learns how to impress others, not how to build.
Keating has a girlfriend named Catherine Halsey, whom he met a year before in Boston, where she lived with her mother. Even though he forgets to call her for weeks at a time, Katie waits patiently for his attention. In the time since Keating met Katie, her mother has passed away and she now lives with her uncle in New York. Despite her proximity, he visits her only infrequently. But when he does, her sincerity compels him into an honesty that he exhibits nowhere else.
When he finds that her uncle is Ellsworth Toohey, the rising star of architectural criticism, he tells her that, though he badly wants to meet Toohey, he will not do it through her. He makes an exception to his normal pattern of behavior when he is with Katie. Keating is concerned that her uncle is acquiring too much control over her life. Critical Commentaries: Because Cameron is one of the first to design skyscrapers, his buildings are revolutionary.
He is ahead of his time, and his designs are rejected by the public. Now sixty-nine, Cameron is a commercial failure and a bitter alcoholic, but also a genius and a man of great artistic integrity. Roark learns from Cameron the one thing of value: Cameron is an important secondary character in the story. In the s, he was the most successful architect in the country, personally designing every structure that came from his office, and building as he pleased.
Clients took what he gave them without complaint. His buildings were different, but this difference was not enough to frighten anybody. Other architects, in deference to tradition, attempted every visual trick to make their buildings look small and conventional.
The Exposition was a glorification of Classical architecture. Its designers copied every style of the Greeks and Romans, and all subsequent schools of history, eschewing all originality. The American public gaped at the Exposition and, in its architectural ignorance, was impressed.
Cameron refused to work for such an undertaking and called it names that were unprintable. When potential clients came to him with requests for banks or office buildings designed as copies of Classical structures, he became enraged; and even went so far as to throw an inkstand at a distinguished banker who had asked for a railroad station in the form of the temple of Diana at Ephesus.
By the time Roark meets him thirty years later, Cameron is an embittered, hard-drinking, commercial failure.
Roark learns from Cameron the means to develop his brilliant architectural ability. Keating, on the other hand, learns from Francon how to polish his method of pandering to others. Heyer has suffered a stroke and the doctors fear for his life. But his partnership in the firm gives his life meaning, and he stubbornly refuses to retire.
Keating has reasons to want Heyer out of his way immediately. Francon believes in Keating and is confident that he will win the Cosmo-Slotnick competition. Keating, therefore, looks for a weapon he can use against Heyer. In private, he berates Heyer, verbally abusing him and demanding that he retire. The senile Heyer is puzzled and frightened that this friendly young man is screaming at him. The strain for Heyer is too much. He suffers the second stroke the doctors had feared and dies immediately.
He also receives a large inheritance from Heyer, who had no family. He is, by conventional standards, an extremely successful man.
A minor draftsman at the outset of his employment, his focus is not to improve his skills and rise through merit, but to exploit the weaknesses of his fellow employees and thereby remove them from his path.
When Davis, who is apartment-hunting and planning his wedding, must be absent from work, Keating volunteers his assistance. Over time, this becomes a permanent arrangement.
Stengel is ready to go out on his own and start his own firm; he just needs someone to give him his first commission. Keating understands the situation. By now, he has proven to be an apt pupil of Francon, charming prospective clients with suave urbanity. Francon puts him in charge of a potential account, expecting that Keating will deliver it to the firm. Instead, Keating surreptitiously convinces the client to hire Stengel.
At this point, Keating has created a problem for himself. Up until now his work has been limited to drafting—a sophisticated form of copying—of which he is eminently capable.
But now he must design, producing creative work. At this, he is a failure. But Keating knows someone who is a superb designer. He brings the specifications for his first building to Roark, who helped him similarly with his college projects. This arrangement establishes a pattern in the professional relationship of the two men: Roark often assists Keating with problems of design.
Roark, by contrast, struggles. Cameron does not have the money to pay either rent or salaries, but Roark remains. Their one hope is the potential commission for the Securities Trust Company building. Cameron and Roark work night after night, with a pot of black coffee to keep them awake. On the last day of their vigil, Cameron is on the verge of collapse. Roark orders him home after midnight.
The next day, when Cameron enters the office, he finds Roark fast asleep on the floor. The drawings, finished, are on the table. But the board of directors awards the commission to another firm of Gould and Pettingill.
Cameron is left with a check that does not cover the cost of preparing his drawings and an electric bill that he cannot pay. Eventually, Cameron loses the shame of his drunkenness and staggers into his office, openly drunk in the one place on earth he had always revered.
But, still, Cameron and Roark fight on; they keep the office open though the commissions are merely drops from a pipe that is slowly running dry. They take what they can get—country cottages, garages, remodeling of old buildings. But then the flow stops completely. When Cameron finally collapses, Roark takes him home. The doctor he summons tells them that an attempt to leave his bed will be enough to kill Cameron.
Roark closes the office, and Cameron goes to live with an elderly sister in New Jersey. There are few opportunities for an architect with radically new ideas. Finally, Roark gets a job with the architect, John Erik Snyte, who employs an unusual method of design.
Snyte is an eclectic, who hires specialists in several historical styles; he has a Renaissance designer and a Gothic specialist, among others. He hires Roark to be his Modernist. Snyte permits each of his men to design in their own style, then melds the plans together into a final product. Therefore, Roark has the freedom to design as he likes, but his buildings will not be erected as he designs them. When the newspaper columnist, Austen Heller, comes to Snyte, desiring to build a private home, life changes for Roark.
Peter Keating 31 Heller is an individualist who refuses to contribute to charity but who spends generous sums to help free political prisoners around the globe. He repudiates the clashing hodgepodge that Snyte offers, but recognizes great potential in the drawing.
When Roark presents his original plan, Heller immediately responds and hires him on the spot. Roark builds the Heller house in Connecticut, his first commission in private practice; he opens his own office. Most men choose the safe and the known, that with which they have been surrounded all their lives. Roark receives a mere three commissions after the Heller house. The first comes from Jimmy Gowan, an auto mechanic who, after fifteen years of hard work, is ready to go out on his own and open a service station.
Gowan hires Roark to build his gas station. At the end of Part One, the difference in the respective fortunes of Keating and Roark is striking: Other plot elements are introduced in this section. How will it look, Mrs. Keating asks Peter, if he prefers Katie to Dominique?
It will insult Guy Francon and cost Peter a chance at the partnership. Additionally, Mrs. Keating stresses the importance of choosing the right wife for a successful career.
Because Katie is plain and dull, she impresses no one. Peter cannot rise into the rarified air of high society with a vulgar little guttersnipe for a wife. His success requires a high-class woman at his side. In keeping with the wishes of both his mother and his boss, and despite his love for Katie, Peter proposes marriage to Dominique Francon.
Dominique is beautiful, elegant, and haughty—everything Katie is not. A brilliant, free-spirited, outspoken woman, Dominique sees with her own eyes and understands with her own mind. She recognizes that Keating is a manipulative fraud and says so to his face. She responds to his proposal with the remark that if she ever wishes to punish herself for some terrible misdeed, she will marry Keating.
The Banner is a lowbrow, yellow-press tabloid, specializing in a combination of lurid and overly-sentimental stories aimed at those with the most vulgar tastes. The paper is owned by Gail Wynand, a brilliant man of consummate artistic judgment, but one who panders ceaselessly to the lowest tastes of the crowd in order to gain wealth and political influence. Henry Cameron, on his deathbed, warns Roark of the dangers represented by the Wynand papers and by the factors in human nature that make them possible.
As the conflict develops, the meeting of the characters occurs in subsequent chapters. Commentary The conflict of The Fountainhead is presented immediately. The Dean of Stanton Institute believes that all great architecture has been done already by the masters of the past. The rules of design come from them; all that modern architects can do is copy. The Dean believes that truth is found in the beliefs of others and that an individual should follow the established route rather than forge a new path.
The Dean is a conformist. Peter Keating is a conformist even more fully than the Dean. He, too, copies from past architects.
In addition, Keating grovels before all superiors, agreeing with them in order to win approval. He even chose architecture rather than the field he loves—painting—only to satisfy his mother. Keating is a man who refuses to think for himself; he follows, he copies, he obeys. He is utterly dependent on others for his convictions. He permits his life to be dominated by them. If one thinks, it is necessarily by and for oneself; there is no other way to do it.
Roark believes that architecture is a creative field, that it is important to innovate, and that new ideas have far greater value than copies of old ones.
His defense of the freethinking mind is eloquent and to the point: Why does it become sacred by the mere fact of not being your own? Why does the number of those others take the place of truth? Why is truth made a mere matter of arithmetic—and only of addition at that?
The essence of the book is the contrast and conflict between those who are independent and those who are dependent. The conflict between the dependent and the independent takes place in different forms.
One such form is the struggle between an innovator and the entrenched beliefs of a conservative society. Cameron and Roark have new ideas in architecture. They seek to build skyscrapers in an era when people have seen only two-story frame houses; they want to build with such new materials as glass, plastics, and light metals when people are accustomed only to wood and bricks.
The battle Cameron and Roark fight against a society committed to following tradition is similar to the real-life struggle of such innovative modern designers as Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright.
History abounds with examples of great thinkers with brilliant new ideas who were opposed by the very societies that most benefited from them. Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake and Galileo threatened with torture for defending the heliocentric worldview in opposition to the geocentric view held by the Catholic Church. Darwin was attacked by religious Fundamentalists for his theory of evolution, and Scopes was jailed in Tennessee for teaching it.
Inventors and discoverers of knowledge like Robert Fulton, Louis Pasteur, and the Wright brothers were denounced and their inventions rejected by many.
Roark says, in his climactic courtroom address, that: The great creators—the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors—stood alone against the men of their time. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered, and they paid. But they won. The word fountainhead means original source, as in the fountainhead of a river. Expressed in one form, the theme of the book is that the independent, reasoning mind is the original source of all human progress and prosperity.
It is only men with new ideas who discover a way to make weapons for hunting, who discover ways to grow crops and domesticate livestock, who build the first homes and cities. It is not the social followers who cure lethal diseases; it is only men of independent judgment.
One important way in which the theme of The Fountainhead is expressed involves a new understanding of the false alternative between conformity and nonconformity.
A conformist is one who lives with blind acceptance of the convictions and values of others. The beliefs of other people serve as his standard of truth.
The conformist permits the dominant beliefs of his family or society to control him, and he exists as a follower. The conformist refuses to use his mind, abdicating the responsibility of thinking and uncritically acquiescing to the opinions of others.
The Dean and Peter Keating are examples of conformity. Guy Francon who adheres rigidly to the Classical style , Ralston Holcolmbe who copies Renaissance designs , and John Erik Snyte who panders to the public taste are also examples of conformists in The Fountainhead.
Real life gives us a multitude of examples of conformists: All of these, Critical Commentaries: Peter Keating 35 and numerous others, are conformists. The form in each case is different, but the essence remains the same. They all choose to follow others rather than be guided by their own judgment. A commonly held belief is that the antithesis of a conformist is a nonconformist, but this is not the case.
A nonconformist, too, allows others to dominate his life; that dominance merely takes a different form. A nonconformist lives in rebellion against the convictions and values of others.
His attitude is: The nonconformist, too, refuses to use his mind. He also abdicates the responsibility of thinking; instead, he uncritically rebels against the opinions of others. For him, as well as for the conformist, truth is social: A good example of a nonconformist in The Fountainhead is Lois Cook, the avant-garde writer who rebels against the rules of grammar in her writing and against the rules of personal hygiene in her grooming.
Real-life examples are those modern artists who rebel against beauty by deliberately making their works as ugly as possible, and the hippies of the s who lived in rebellious opposition to the values of their middle-class families. A nonconformist is a variation on the same theme as the conformist: Both seek fundamentally to identify the beliefs of others—the conformist to obey, the nonconformist to rebel.
Neither is concerned with living by the judgment of his own mind. But Howard Roark is neither a follower nor a rebel.
He is an individualist, a man who relies on his own thinking to form his own conclusions. Such an independent person is not concerned with what others think—neither to obey nor to defy them; rather, he is concerned with what he thinks. History abounds with innovators who are perfect examples: Copernicus, Columbus, Edison, and others were creative thinkers, discoverers of new knowledge, not men taking public opinion polls, concerned with ascertaining the beliefs of society and acting based on the results.
Conformists like Keating and nonconformists like Lois Cook are cognitive dependents, relying on others for their grasp of truth. Individualists like Roark are cognitively independent; instead of looking to society for truth, they look at the facts. Independent thinkers understand that truth is a relationship between an idea and reality, not a relationship between an idea and the number of its devotees.
Millions of people, perhaps all of human society, once believed the earth is flat—but, as we know today, they were mistaken. Truth is objective; it is not collective or inter-subjective. The conventional understanding that people are either conformists or nonconformists is inadequate.
No two materials are alike. No two sites on earth are alike. No two buildings have the same purpose.
The purpose, the site, the material determine the shape. Each material has a definite nature, a specific physical makeup that enables it to do certain things but prohibits it from doing others. Wood, for example, is suitable for a single-story home or other types of small structures, but is inadequate for skyscrapers or suspension bridges.
Steel and concrete, on the other hand, can be used for such purposes; their molecular structures are such that they can withstand the necessary stresses.
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