For those who did not undergo the common American adolescent rite of passage of a brief infatuation with Rand, The Fountainhead was her first highly successful novel, soon made into a Hollywood film featuring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal. It is nowadays probably less well known than her later didactic masterpiece Atlas Shrugged, a massive hymn to the virtue of selfishness and laissez-faire capitalism that is frequently touted as the inspiration for libertarian-ish pols, famously including House Speaker Paul Ryan.
But while the hero of Atlas Shrugged is the mysterious John Galt, who gradually draws all of the major creative spirits out of a dysfunctional socialist society in a demonstration of “the mind on strike,” The Fountainhead‘s Roark is a self-involved architectural genius who dynamites a public housing project he designed because its builders did not follow his blueprint. His passionate contempt for the human herd of lesser beings reflected Rand’s own early Nietzschean influences, before the full flowering of her systematic philosophy of Objectivism, which was laid out in numbing detail in Atlas Shrugged. […Read More]