Wow, what a book ! I don't usually express a strong opinion in the beginning of a review, but here I'll have to make an exception, as "The Fountainhead" is definitely one of the best books I've ever read. If I'm asked what's the best book, in my opinion, I can never name one book, I name a group that I think are the best. "The Fountainhead" is from now on in this group.

I bought it from a used-books store, as it appears on that "best books of the century" list I'm trying to follow. It is more than 700 pages long, and with a few sections being a little "philosophically heavy", it's a real task to read it. But it's a task every minute of which I enjoyed.

Enough praises for now, let me say in brief what the book is about...

"The Fountainhead" tells the story of a few people in New York of the 20s-30s. There are 5 characters about whom a lot is written, and these are the main characters of the book. The characters are, in short: Howard Roark - a brillian architect. THE main character of the book. He keeps faithful to his beliefs and ideology. It's a story of his struggle against people and opinions that oppose that ideology. Dominique Francon - a newspaper woman. Daughter of the most famous architect in the city. Throughout the book she gets married with most of the main characters Keating, Wynand, Roark. Each marriage is, in my eyes, a symbol of a different union. She magnifies the difference between the people she marries. Gail Wynand - one of the most influential people in the city. Owner of a huge press empire, and in particular of "The New York Banner" - the most widely circulated paper in the city. Peter Keating - begins as an excellent architecture student (he finishes Uni with Roark), rises as a famous architect. Eventually falls to pieces. Ellsworth Toohey - a reporter, and organizer of communities in unions (which all has quite a clear goal, as we later find out).

The main theme of "The Fountainhead" is the struggle of the free mind, creativeness and individualism (all symbolized in Roark) against the common opinion, "second-handers", people who think only about what other people think (mostly symbolized in Keating). This main theme is very important, as it is THE philosophical main idea of the book, and most of the characters revolve around it. Roark is the spirit itself. He is an independent architect, caring little about the opinion of others. He builds in order to build, to create "right" buildings. Dominique, Wynand and Toohey all "understand" the theme, but differently. Dominique seemingly thinks that she's not really fit in that world, in which "second-handers" rule. Therefore, she really tries to make herself suffer. It's not always clear why she is sacrificing so much, by the way. Wynand raises himself about all others. He is a freak of power, caused by a difficult childhood. He despises all "second-handers" and aspires to rule them, bending their opinions at his will. Toohey is a wird bird, and his intentions are unclear until the very end. He is a very smart and sleek man. He understand how to influence "second-handers", and builds a great supporting around himself, which isn't really expliciltly felt as supporting by anyone. Eventually, it becomes clear that he wants to take over Wynand's empire. Perhaps his intentions are also to achieve power. He fears Roark, seeing in him everything he doesn't want the "second-handers" to understand, and tries to destroy him at every opportunity.

The ideas are exciting, the writing is excellent (sometimes when I read it, I found myself as-if waking up from a trance after half an hour, remembering nothing around me bar the printed words). The only bad thing about the book, is IMHO a little unreal presentation of events, but that can be easily forgiven as the main point of the book lies elsewhere, as I said before. Howard Roark should have been a hacker. Really, had he lived in our times, his talent, devotion to the work and excitement is what values best in hackers.

All in all, I really enjoyed reading "The Fountainhead". Bar a good entertainment, it's also very inspiring, partly in ways I find hard to express. I warmly recommend it to everyone. (especially in our profession when people can actually really love their jobs).


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