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Summary

One of the 20th century's most challenging novels of ideas, The Fountainhead champions the cause of individualism through the story of a gifted young architect who defies the tyranny of conventional public opinion. The struggle for personal integrity in a world that values conformity above creativity is powerfully illustrated through three characters: Howard Roarke, the genius who is resented because he creates purely for the delight of his own work and on no other terms; Gail Wynand, the newspaper mogul and self-made millionaire whose power was bought by sacrificing his ideals to the lowest common denominator of public taste; and Dominique Francon, the devastating beauty whose desperate search for meaning has been twisted, through despair, into a quest to destroy the single object of her desire: Howard Roarke. Dramatic, poetic, and demanding, The Fountainhead remains one of the towering books on the contemporary intellectual scene.
©1943 The Bobbs-Merrill Company; 1968 Ayn Rand; 1993 Leonard Peikoff (P)1994 Blackstone Audio Inc.

Critic reviews

"Ayn Rand is a writer of great power. She has a subtle and ingenious mind and the capacity of writing brilliantly, beautifully, bitterly." ( New York Times Book Review)

What members say

Average customer ratings

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Romantic Objectivity at it's finest

Would you consider the audio edition of The Fountainhead to be better than the print version?

The audio edition was brilliantly read by Christopher Hurt who added a hidden depth to each character, something which I didn't get with the printed edition.

Who was your favorite character and why?

My favorite character has to be Howard Roark, as the main focus of the Fountainhead you follow his story. The story of Roark's life is one that won't only entertain you, make you feel the same emotions as Roark in the story but teach you about objectivist philosophy and how a purely objectivist man would live their life.

What does Christopher Hurt bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Christopher Hurt applies a level of depth to the characters which I didn't get in the book, emoting each speech which gives you the ability to feel more for the story and what is going on. Whilst keeping the story alive, Christopher allows you to keep fully immersed in the story without feeling like your being read too.

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

My emotional response to the book was one of sympathy, sympathy to the reality of today's society and the one that is described in the book. Unfortunately Rand's second-hander society is one I see around me everyday.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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Idealists, all creators and designers must read.

Difficult to compare, as different, but for me just behind Atlas Shrugged. Love, Ideas, Story.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Creator vs Second Hander

Very Interesting albeit long book about Creators vs Second Handers. Lot of food for thought and contemplation.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Exceptional

What an exceptionally thrilling story! I enjoyed the different characters, my favourites being Roricke and Dominique of course.

Applause to the narrator! Magnificent storytelling!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Surprisingly exceptionally.

A real treat. The characters quickly come alive, some will frustrate you, some you'll love, others you'll hate and truly wish a great tragedy befalls them in the next paragraph or perhaps the next. Desperately your mind will try impose a reason for the relationship and later character assassination of Rourke.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Russell
  • Leeds, United Kingdom
  • 06-03-13

Its no Atlas shrugged

Ayn Rand is so good at showing the dangers of central control that it actually hurts to write bad things about her books.

This is about one mans struggle to make his mark in the world and will make no compromise whatsoever. People will see it his way or not at all and the book is one depressing fall after another until he achieves his ambition.

It represents her philosophy of objectivism that is an acquired taste to say the least but it’s an interesting subject.

It’s nowhere near as good as ‘Atlas Shrugged’, which you must listen too.

The problem I have with Rand is her characters; I hate all of them, good or bad. She is also very pro man. I should not have a problem with this but her views of women do not sit well in my male mind despite not being particularly modern in my mind-set.

She is very much like her main character in that she writes this book her way despite what others may think which adds an air of authenticity to her works.

To sum up I suggest you get Atlas Shrugged first and see what you think of it, if you like try this if not stay well away.

9 of 13 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Both Fascinating and confusing

Made me want to find out more about Rand and her beliefs. The character of Rourke makes an impression like the character 'Shane'

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Thought provoking

loved it. Will have to go through certain parts again to really get the message but a great book and a great character arc.

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Best book I have ever read/listened to

Although long, it has become my favourite book. I like the descriptions, the story, the emotions it elicits. I like Christopher Hurts’s performance in producing the different tones for different people’s voices, it was very convincing.

I can’t praise this book enough. I will be listening to more of the author’s books (audiobooks).

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Great listen of a great classic.

Stunning and glorious. Great performance by Chris Hurt. Made me think, laugh and tear up

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Zachary
  • 04-06-10

The Fountainhead

This was my first brush against anything Ayn Rand ever did, and it was fantastic. Much of the enjoyment came not only from the elements of the story itself, but from the narrator; he is no Christopher Lee, but the particular voicing of so many various characters was brilliant. Whether it was the slyly pompous Ellsworth Toohey, the ever-stoic Howard Roark, the sad Dominique, or the brash Gail Wynand, hearing their dialogue spoken with such talent was the extra treat to the what they represented within the story itself. If you're looking for a story that transcends mere political philosophy with a philosophy of humanity, one that makes one think and enjoy at the same time, then I highly recommend this particular audio book.

62 of 64 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Christopher Collett
  • 23-05-09

One of the Best

One of the best narration's, if not the best that I've heard. Apparently, Christopher Hurt is very familiar with the book and captures the tone and attitude of the characters perfectly.
On top of that, Ayn Rand presents her philosophy incredibly effectively in the story. This makes for much better comprehension when you have the characters to exemplify the spectrum of attitudes towards life that exist around us. I personally saw pieces of myself in most of the characters and it has helped me recognize when I am thinking independently and truthfully, and conversely, when collective thought dominates my mind. A very good read for those trying to approach life in a pro-active, self-motivated, and independently chosen way.

42 of 45 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • virginia
  • 14-06-08

Go for the unabridged

My 19 year old son is a great Ayn Rand fan and has read all her books, and I could tell he was influenced by her thinking and wanted to discuss it. I was never going to get the time to read the books. So I tested the waters with Anthem- a good, quick listen, and knew I wanted more. The Unabridged version of The Fountainhead seemed so daunting, but I took the chance and 32 hours later am glad I did! I echo the other reviewers in the riveting interest in the book and would encourage anyone interested in modern thought to go for the whole thing! Today I download Atlas Shrugged... Unabridged!

74 of 81 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Bruce
  • 15-07-08

it's been 30 years

It took a little while to get into this. Ms. Rand's prose is thick. Her philosophy is as important to me now as it was when I was younger and I appreciated relearning it.

The story is dated (written in the mid 1950s with the scene set in the the 1920s in 1930s).

The narrator is excellent.

I gave this book 4 stars but I think that to enjoy this you have to appreciate "objectivism" or its close cousin "libertarianism". If you don't, I don't think you will be able to l make it through the entire reading.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Eric Pietz
  • 25-07-09

Powerful

The prose, philosophy and character development are simply brilliant. Its amazing to think that she was able to fuse these three things together to create such a timeless work at a relatively young age...mid-thirties. Its equally amazing to think this book was rejected by 12 publishers before one accepted it.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Gohar
  • 19-05-09

Outstanding book....

This is one of the best fictional books I have ever read. Ayn Rand talks about individualism in a beautiful crafted fictional story. The main characters are so different from each other that Rand has dedicated every part of the book to their origin, beliefs and personality. You get to understand where every one of them comes from and their reasons for their decisions. Howard Roark is an emblem for creative minds and an individual who would stand for his own beliefs. Rand uses architecture as a profession to describe her objectivist theory but you'd see in every and specially your own profession so many times in the book. Great listen. And I would definitely recommend this book more than Atlas Shrugged, reasons for which I have already reviewed in that audiobook's section.

24 of 27 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Richard
  • 23-08-15

A foundation book

There are books that should be read simply because they're important. Having read Atlas Shrugged, I had high expectations for Fountainhead. This exceeded them by leaps and bounds. Brilliant wordsmithing, exceptional characters, gripping story development are all brought together with great narration.

14 of 16 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • Mike
  • 16-09-18

Every American should read or listen to this book

I read this book in High School and it helped shaped my perspective on how to live a valuable life. I just listened to it again, 35 years later, and it reaffirmed that perspective. This is a great book with an important message; a message that is uniquely American. Find your own path, open your own doors. The story is dated, but still compelling. The message is still important and the audible performance is well done.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars
  • David Voelker
  • 28-12-16

Contrived story of an individualism worldview

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

Yes with some reservations. I know Ayn's books are very well regarded and I agree with much of her worldview myself but the storyline felt incredibly contrived at points. The lavish response to the inner workings of high-powered architects, even for the time period, was simply too grandiose to be believable. I followed along in order to get through the book but I found the glorification and of architects/architecture to be a distraction.

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

Much of the book seemed to move in slow motion with the ending suddenly lurching forward. The 2% monologue at the end was a thesis worthy of the price of admission alone but for which the listener had to languish through the other 98%.

What does Christopher Hurt bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His enunciation of character dialogue helped to more quickly understand and build a solid mental view of the characters.

Did The Fountainhead inspire you to do anything?

Question whether I should plow through a 52 hour listen of Atlas Shrugged...

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Rob
  • 21-10-09

2nd Only to Atlas

I recently discovered Ayn Rand recently, and listened to Atlas Shrugged, and it was the best book I have read or listened to. I read Fountainhead next not expecting it to be anything as good as Atlas, but it was just about as great. It's different but similar, a little quieter but just as thought provoking. Such a range of characters. Is it coincident between the two books, the two main ladies have a name that start with D, and the two main men have the initials HR?

27 of 33 people found this review helpful