The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand: Everyone's a Douchebag

October 24, 2012 Classics 23

Hello Bookworms!

I got some (affectionate) crap recently from Heather at B(itch)Log for displaying an Ayn Rand cover on my blog. The blog header is a poorly executed instagram photo of my “smart looking” bookshelf. The Chic Lit Shelf and the Series Shelf aren’t ready for prime time. Why did I decide to read The FountainheadTwo reasons. One- it’s one of the books that Charlie is given to read by his teacher in The Perks of Being a Wallflower (Charlie is instructed to be a filter, not a sponge.)  Two- that awful Robbie guy in Dirty Dancing is reading it when Baby confronts him about being a two-timing filthy excuse for a human being. He says he has notes in the margin…

So. Smarmy! Anybody else cheer when Jerry Orbach took his check back?!

In my quest to read all the books Charlie read, and discover why evil Robbie thought being a jack wad was okay, I picked up a copy. In a nutshell, I hated every single character in this book. I hated Rand’s philosophy. But I found the story absolutely enthralling. It’s like watching Dance Moms. You want to look away, but you can’t!

The story centers on this brilliant architect named Howard Roark (coincidentally he’s a ginger. Anybody else notice the prevalence of red headed characters in literature?) Roark is absolutely convinced of his own genius, but he’s thwarted at every turn by the uninspired. He refuses to stoop to convention, and he’s horrible with people. But the man, can design a modernistic building with the best of them. Frankly, I despise modernistic architecture. I like big old Victorian houses. Houses that look like they’re made of gingerbread. I have no need for those weird square minimalist houses… I even hate Roark’s art. But I digress.

Seriously… Be a filter, not a sponge. If you’re a sponge and take this all to heart, you’ll turn into a giant jerk. For reals.

While struggling to make something of himself, Roark meets Dominique. Dominique is pretty much the male version of Roark. She is brilliant as well, but just soooo bored with everything. She admires Roark’s conviction and his individualism. Even after he RAPES her. Seriously, Ayn?! Seriously?! This isn’t General Hospital. They aren’t Luke and Laura. It’s INSULTING that you would even insinuate that a woman would fall for her rapist. Just. Ugh. That part made me so angry! Like Feminist-Zilla wanted to jump into the pages and SMASH THINGS.

There are other characters floating around this book. Rand paints a picture of a giant conspiracy of powerful people promoting mediocre talents to high positions. They just sit around being evil and toying with people. Hating on geniuses and promoting collectivism over individualism. I’m not saying that being an individual is a BAD thing. Far from it! Let your freak flag fly! Get down with your bad self! Contribute what you do best to the world! But don’t get so wrapped up in your own brilliance that you wreak havoc on the world around you. Nobody likes a douchebag. Nobody.

Any of you Bookworms ever read a book that you loved and hated simultaneously? Serious cognitive dissonance up in here. Let’s talk about it!

23 Responses to “The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand: Everyone's a Douchebag”

  1. didibooksenglish

    Well ypu know how I feel about it. Ya gotta read this one if you haven’t. How else can you judge it. It’s a very interesting read and everybody is despicable! That doesn’t happen so often. I think dominique was already in love with Roark before he “raped” her. She was pretty much described as a frigid woman and she wanted him. It’s just crappy that Ayn Rand would write this scene the way she does. Rand individualism all the way.

    • Words for Worms

      I don’t know if I’d jump on board with Rand’s philosophy per se, but in spite of my hatred of every character, I couldn’t put this down. That takes some serious talent, but I doubt I’d want to have tea with Ayn Rand. I think she’d make me cry. I’m sensitive.

  2. Brendan Justin

    “She admires Roark’s conviction and his individualism. Even after he RAPES her. Seriously, Ayn?! Seriously?! This isn’t General Hospital. They aren’t Luke and Laura. It’s INSULTING that you would even insinuate that a woman would fall for her rapist.”
    Didn’t you know the female body has a way of shutting that whole thing down? It’s really quite plausible because of human anatomy according to Todd Akin.

    • Words for Worms

      LOL way to bring in the politics, B! I seriously could have punched that guy too. Because you know, if you were raped and you got pregnant, you obviously wanted it on some level. What a tool!

  3. Christine

    I read The Fountainhead years ago & didn’t fall in love with it. The one that I truly reserve my passionate hatred for, however, is Atlas Shrugged, beloved by faux-tellectuals everywhere. The main character of that book – Dagny Taggart – is pure wishfulfillment Mary-Sue-stand-in for Rand herself.

    Nonetheless, everyone should read Atlas Shrugged, if only to understand the public figures who identify it as one of the great influences on their lives. Someone way funnier than I am once said:

    “Two novels can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other involves orcs.”

      • Christine

        You really must read it. It is probably the only book in existence in which a bunch of super rich people get mad because their inferiors are being insufficiently worshipful and, in response, they start a commune. One of my favorite things about the book is the indelible hypocrisy of Rand’s lip service to “meritocracy” as set against the reality of her main character, who inherited a railroad.

        One tip. When John Galt starts running off at the mouth like the Unabomber at the end, you can skip 25 of the 30 pages of his manifesto. Otherwise, you will end up digging your eyes out with a spoon to make the pain stop.

  4. Liesel Hill

    LOL. Okay so I haven’t read this but my sister (who I live with) is a huge Ayn Rand fan. When she read this she said a lot of the same things: she was more than half-way through the book before she even started to care about the story, it was hard to like the characters, etc. She did tell me a lot about the book and why she felt that way, so I have a pretty good idea of the philosophy. When I saw the subtitle of your post I started laughing and knew I had to read it. Overall, I often like Rand’s philosophies in general, but I agree that she can take them a bit too far. Great review. I thoroughly enjoyed it. 😀

    • Words for Worms

      Thanks Liesel! I’m glad you liked it. It makes me wonder what your Rand fan sister would have to say, but it sounds like she was kind of on my wavelength anyway. 🙂 Books are so fun!

  5. Meg

    Gone with the Wind…sigh…

    Haven’t worked up the courage to tackle Rand yet. Maybe once my children are sleeping through the night…

    • Words for Worms

      Good call on Gone With The Wind! I have a soft spot for it, but I can TOTALLY see where you’re coming from. Especially because I spent a good portion of my reading wishing I could smack Scarlett. By all means, wait until the children are sleeping through the night for Rand. It was physically exhausting for me, being mad at all the characters.

  6. Lenny Newman

    I love how lefties get all riled and offended at Ayn Rand’s celebration of freedom, individualism and meritocracy. Leftists are such sensitive souls. They know what is good for you. If you disagree, get to the gulag. Ayn Rand is worth 5 million of you deranged leftists.

    • Words for Worms

      I thought about not allowing the comment to post, but then I clicked on your name and it took me to your facebook page. I must commend you on not hiding behind an anonymous label, but I think it behooves all of my regular readers to “consider the source” on this one…

Talk to me, Bookworms!