The Fountainhead

Thu 27 February 2014 by Thejaswi Puthraya

After finishing a book, whenever I asked for recommendations for my next, one book always figured in it, "The fountainhead". Many described it as a cult book, one that changed lives. With such compulsive reviews, dare I miss it?

Howard Roark is kicked out of architecture school because his ideas are bizarre and unconventional. He is unperturbed and moves on to make something of his passion. He interns under Henry Cameron, an architect who is pushed to obscurity due to the very ideas that Roark was expelled from school. After Cameron's death, Roark joins Guy Francon's firm under Peter Keating, a wily architect who gets his work done more through flattery than through his talent. Unable to suppress his vision, Roark is fired for insubordination.

Roark starts his own firm but doesn't get enough traction and winds it up to go and work on a granite quarry. Here he encounters Guy Francon's daughter Dominique and their unusual love story begins. But before their love story can make further progress, Roark is called back to resume his work at his own firm.

Ellsworth Tahooey, a self styled expert on everything under the sun and a news commentator connives with Peter Keating to get Roark a project only to have him sued upon it's completion. The whole architectural community is looking down upon Roark when Gail Wynad, a millionaire who made it from the scratch commissions Roark to build a home for him. Wynad and Roark become good friends in the process but their friendship is tested in a scandal conjured up by Tahooey. Throughout the novel, we see Roark unflinchingly driven by his conviction and vision and goes to any extent to defend them.

Most of the people who recommended this book read it during their undergrad years and that's why this influenced them so heavily. Having seen a little bit of corporate culture where one has to be pragmatic (not an idealist like Roark), I found the book a very good read but not one which swayed me.