Audio Books · Book & Product Reviews

The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand – book review

The Fountainhead

Overview:

The Fountainhead was written in 1943 by Ayn Rand who has to be one of my top 5 authors. I have read The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged another Ayn Rand novel several times. More recently I have both books available on Audible. There are several key characters in this novel, but the most notable is Howard Roark who is an architect. Howard is the focal point of the book for his individualist character and the love he possesses for his work. As with Atlas Shrugged this novel pits the individualist (capitalist) against those that feel there is little meaning to life and everything should be shared (socialist). Like all of Ayn Rand’s novels there is this good vs. evil plot being played out, or you might look at it as conventional vs. innovative when referring to the central theme of architecture. I won’t give away the details of the plot or how it ends, but I can guarantee you will enjoy reading or listening to this book.

If you have Audible beware that this is a very long book and is over 32 hours. The narration is incredible as the narrator changes their voice for various characters, making it much easier to listen to. Ayn Rand does an incredible job of creating compelling characters with all their virtues and flaws. As I mentioned the key character Howard Roark is what the author would call the ideal man. A man of virtue, dedicated to his work, and idealistic.

Recommendation:

As you can probably tell I loved it. There is nothing in this book not to like and while it is a substantial investment in terms of the time to read it (752 pages), you will not be disappointed. Due to the quality of the narration and the fact that it is a novel, where much of it consists of dialog it really lends itself to the audio book format. If you choose to listen to it on Audible the version I listened to had Christopher Hurt as the narrator. While the underlying theme in this novel is philosophical, it is also entertaining and most of the characters are somewhat complex, making it fun to read.

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The Fountainhead

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Fountainhead

A little bit about the Author

(source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ayn_Rand)

Ayn Rand born Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum; February 2, 1905 – March 6, 1982) was a Russian-American writer and philosopher. She is known for her two best-selling novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, and for developing a philosophical system she named Objectivism. Educated in Russia, she moved to the United States in 1926. She had a play produced on Broadway in 1935 and 1936. After two early novels that were initially unsuccessful, she achieved fame with her 1943 novel, The Fountainhead. In 1957, Rand published her best-known work, the novel Atlas Shrugged. Afterward, she turned to non-fiction to promote her philosophy, publishing her own periodicals and releasing several collections of essays until her death in 1982.

Rand advocated reason as the only means of acquiring knowledge and rejected faith and religion. She supported rational and ethical egoism and rejected altruism. In politics, she condemned the initiation of force as immoral and opposed collectivism and statism as well as anarchism, instead supporting laissez-faire capitalism, which she defined as the system based on recognizing individual rights, including property rights. In art, Rand promoted romantic realism. She was sharply critical of most philosophers and philosophical traditions known to her, except for Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas and classical liberals.

Literary critics received Rand’s fiction with mixed reviews and academia generally ignored or rejected her philosophy, though academic interest has increased in recent decades. The Objectivist movement attempts to spread her ideas, both to the public and in academic settings. She has been a significant influence among libertarians and American conservatives.

 

Book & Product Reviews

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Crime and Punishment
I just finished listening to the audio book Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky. This part of the my own personal discovery of Russian novelists. I have been reading The Gulag Achipelago by Solzhenitsyn, enjoying it very much so I thought I would check out one of Fyodor Dostoevsky’s famous novels. Written in installments in 1886 the book centers around a central character Rodion Raskolnikov sometimes just referred to as Raskolnikov in the book. Raskolnikov is a student living in Saint Petersburg, who falls upon hard times and commits a capital crime. I won’t spoil it for you by going into a lot of details, but let’s just say it is pretty unexpected.

I just wanted to state that I don’t write book reviews that summarize the story line, which would frankly just ruin it for you should you decide to read or listen to the book. My purpose for writing these reviews is more about offering up an opinion of whether the book is worth reading and how it made me feel.

If you have ever read anything from Dostoevsky or Solzhenitsyn you have a pretty good idea of what Russia was like late 1800’s through mid 1900’s. This book provides a wonderful depiction of the plight of the people during that time period and the pathetic living conditions the Russian people experienced. This book is not one of those uplifting novels that I normally write about; instead it is all pretty morbid. If I could sum up the book in a couple of sentences it would be something like this:

An in-depth character study of what desperate people are willing to do to each other. Secondly the price one pays for their indiscretions in terms of guilt and self loathing. 

Recommendation:

Fyodor Dostoevsky is a talented writer and I would read other books that he has written, but I kind of like this kind of morbid stuff. This is a very long book, with the audio book being over 21 hours, so be prepared to invest some serious time reading or listening to this book. There are chapters that kind of drag on and on, so you need to be willing to deal with that as the author delves deeper into the characters and their relationship to each other. I’m a bit torn about recommending this unless you have read something like the Gulag Archipelago and enjoyed it. The author is a fascinating character and you will see portions of his own life reflected in his writing.

A little bit about Dostoevsky from Wikipedia:

Born in Moscow in 1821, Dostoevsky was introduced to literature at an early age through fairy tales and legends, and through books by Russian and foreign authors. His mother died in 1837 when he was 15, and around the same time, he left school to enter the Nikolayev Military Engineering Institute. After graduating, he worked as an engineer and briefly enjoyed a lavish lifestyle, translating books to earn extra money. In the mid-1840s he wrote his first novel, Poor Folk, which gained him entry into St. Petersburg’s literary circles. Arrested in 1849 for belonging to a literary group that discussed banned books critical of “Tsarist Russia”, he was sentenced to death but the sentence was commuted at the last moment. He spent four years in a Siberian prison camp, followed by six years of compulsory military service in exile. In the following years, Dostoevsky worked as a journalist, publishing and editing several magazines of his own and later A Writer’s Diary, a collection of his writings. He began to travel around western Europe and developed a gambling addiction, which led to financial hardship. For a time, he had to beg for money, but he eventually became one of the most widely read and highly regarded Russian writers.

Namaste

 

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Crime and Punishment

 

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Crime & Punishment