A Film is a Petrified Fountain of Thought

So is a book, I believe (thank you to Jean Cocteau for that quote).  Post #5, the last in the “series” of favorite books/authors who have influenced me in one form or another, goes to Russian-American author, Ayn Rand.  I’ve enjoyed all her books, but I think The Fountainhead takes the number one spot (I still see Roark’s architectural creativity in certain dwellings).

A quick what’s what: this 1943 novel revolves around Howard Roark, a young architect with an innovative flair.  A designer of modernist buildings, he won’t part from his concepts to act on other’s wishes; it’s his way, or no way.  He symbolizes what Rand viewed as the “ideal man”.

A fairly intense read set in the 20s, Roark is ousted from Stanton because he won’t stick to historical architectural convention.  He heads to New York and lands a job with a once celebrated architect, Henry Cameron, who has lost favor and only receives the odd contract.  They create some notable work, but don’t do well financially.

Roark’s destined to be crushed by self-centered individuals.  Ellsworth Toohey, a malevolent soul, is a collectivist critic of architecture who wants to ruin Roark’s career.  A man who embraced wealth after being born into poverty, publisher Gail Wynand pursues power over others; he proves disloyal to our young architect when he can no longer contain popular opinion.  And let’s not forget the intriguing heroine, Dominique Francon, a columnist for The New York Banner.  She fluctuates between aiding and undercutting Roark (a love-hate relationship if ever there was one).

In some ways, it has the elements of a well-crafted soap opera, with characters possessing envy, greed, and pride, among other things, and how those feelings influence, alter, or destroy relationships/marriages.  We also have good versus evil, which makes for solid tension and friction.

Rand received several rejections for The Fountainhead.  Fortunately, she had an agent, who diligently submitted the manuscript to various publishers.  Knopf contracted the book in 1938, but when she was only half done come late 1940, the contract was annulled.  More rejections ensured.  Finally, Rand began submitting herself . . . with success.

I always liked the concept of individualism, which Rand is known for, and is the primary theme of The Fountainhead—“not in politics but within a man’s soul”.  And that soul belongs to Roark, a resilient, independent man who won’t give up principles and vision for money or fame.  Nor will he befriend someone to move up the corporate ladder.  Strong and resolute, he’s true to himself.  Roark embodies the traits/qualities I always wished I possessed.  (No wonder I particularly enjoyed that book so much.)

And, yes, there was a movie . . .  a petrified fountain of thought . . .