The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
The reason why I read this book was because I know it will hit close to home. I haven’t read novels tackling architecture and life as an architect as deeply as this so it took me a while to finish the book because of so many feels I had with the plot.
The Fountainhead is a novel about Howard Roark, a struggling architect who chooses to practice and apply modernist design in a society stuck in traditions. He refuses to design structures that compromise his vision as an artist and as a result, he gains the ire of the architecture community and the involved society as well.
- Howard Roark as the main protagonist of the novel is hateful. He seems like a person devoid of any emotion which makes him unrealistic. I know this novel is not about the mushy feels of a struggling young architect but I think it would have been more effective (at least for me) if the lead character was more like a normal human, with all the spiking moods every now and then. But Roark, as an architect, I admire his boldness to go against the practiced traditional architecture. His love for the craft and his uncompromising way of building structures is something I think is noteworthy. He is able to stand up to for his designs and doesn’t feel compelled to give in to other’s opinion of his work and would rather walk away on a good deal than sacrifice his design identity.
- Peter Keating on the other hand is Roark’s antithesis. His character feels more believable because there will always be someone who would do ANYTHING to be accepted by society, go up the corporate ladder and be renowned for his profession. More or less, Keating is a yes-man, someone who tries to win everyone’s favor by providing what other people want despite his own hesitations. Keating has a lot of issues within himself that is presented in the book: over-confidence and lack thereof in different facets of his life and the need to be favored and in power.
- Dominique Francon is Roark’s love interest which felt like a WTF character. She’s an interesting woman who exudes independence and class but I do not get her reasoning of showing her interest/love for Roark: bad-mouthing Roark and his works, and then marrying someone else to punish herself?
- Ellsworth Toohey is a man hungry for power, while Peter seeks for acceptance; Toohey seeks for power and dominance. His influence over the taste of people shows how media can make or break a person and push a trend in a direction they wish.
- The novel was a bit long and there were a lot of monologues that were engaging but felt dragging as it got along. The book would have better if it were a bit shorter. There were a lot of goings on that was not necessary to build the climax.
- While reading I always thought of Roark Vs. Keating. As a designer, I want to be a Roark but part of me is a Keating. There are times that you want to stand by the design idea that you have but then, this work is not entirely for creative purposes. You design with the client in mind and no matter how brilliant the idea is, if the end user will not approve (or pay) for it, it’s useless. So maybe there are instances you have to be firm with your ideas and there are instances that you need to comply, I guess it’s finding a balance in what you want and what they want is more appropriate.
Overall, I liked the book when it came to the things it portrayed about architecture as a profession. The plot and characters were a bit dramatic. Definitely not predictable but lacking in realism.
PS: Hi! I’m back after a long while of hibernation. Hehe. I haven’t been able to write as much as I used to but I’ll be trying to get my groove back. I have a long list of books to write about so stay tuned. 🙂