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If you used to be a loser kid, from reading The Fountainhead you learn that it is your brilliance, and others’ resentment of it, which caused you not to fit in. Roark’s antagonist, the perfidious egalitarian Elsworth Toohey who becomes the leading newspaper columnist and cultural arbiter of his age, was the most popular boy at school, a sure sign of perfidy in Randland and perhaps in the real world too.

While both authors would have hated the comparison, the appeal of The Fountainhead to the teenage mind is similar to that of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. The second-rater of one is the phoney of the other.

It is unfair in most cases to judge a novelist’s morals by the actions of their creations, but this is not the case with Rand. She regarded realism in literature as a grave crime and states that Roark is the prototype of human perfection.

This makes some of his moral choices rather peculiar. He is a rapist, although — this being Randland — the victim, Francon, then realises that being ravished by Roark is her profoundest desire. Rand’s views on sexual attraction were extremely dotty. She believed what attracted rational people to each other was admiration for the other person’s reason, which the extremely rational could instantly detect across a crowded room. (“It was her reason I was gawping at . . . ”)

It is not usually regarded as a morally acceptable form of architectural criticism to blow up a half-completed public housing project. Roark’s motivations for doing this are often misrepresented when left-wingers attack Rand.

Roark does not dynamite the building because he disapproves of public housing, although he does, but for much madder motives. A hugely successful second-rater by the name of Peter Keating has been commissioned to build a housing project, but he cannot do it on budget to the specifications. He knows the only man who can is Roark, who agrees to design the building but wants no acknowledgement or payment. His price is that not a single detail of his design may be changed.

Keating loses the battle to perfectly preserve Roark’s design, so Roark believes the only rational response is to blow the thing up. Rand is not a champion of modesty.

She did not write a substantive book on objectivism — what she modestly called her world view. Her non-fiction works such as Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal and The Virtue of Selfishness are collected lectures, essays from her newsletter and other ephemera. The Fountainhead is quite a good read (the same cannot be said of Atlas Shrugged), but it is not a book for grown-ups. Rand’s sub-Nietzschean philosophy has been taken too seriously by many people who should know better. 
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Anonymous
June 10th, 2018
10:06 PM
This does not strike me as a particularly trailblazing opinion. People have been saying Rand is overrated for decades now.

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