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Customer Review

on 26 May 2003
I was almost completely unaware of Ayn Rand before I bought a dog-eared second hand copy of The Fountainhead from a jumble sale. But I can honestly say that reading this one book lead to a huge upheaval in my life. And you can't say that about many books these days!
The Fountainhead is one of two explicitly philosphical novels Ayn Rand wrote to dramatise the principles of her philosophy, Objectivism (the other is Atlas Shrugged). To my mind The Fountainhead is the better of the two - it's shorter for one thing and makes it's points more precisely. It also reads more like a "proper" novel than Atlas Shrugged whose characters operate much more obviously as illustrative examples of her philosophy.
The Fountainhead is basically the story of a radical architect and his struggle to remain true to his vision of his work in the face of the public's preference for tradition and mediocroty and unscrupulous opinion-makers who wish to enforce these traits for their own ends. But what the book is REALLY about is the conflict between individuality and collectivism. Ayn Rand's insight into this theme and her powerful ideas more than compensate for her slightly dull prose style.
The reason this book had such a profound effect on me was that it was my first real exposure to the rich tradition of classical liberalism (often called libertarianism) in the US which is, unfortunately, very little known in Europe. For anyone disillusioned with the false conservative/socialist political dichotomy we're presented with by the media and political elites in the UK Ayn Rand's work will open up wonderful, hopeful, new ideas. I hope you will go on to read her explicitly philosophical and political non-fiction as well. Objectivism is like a draught of cool water to a parched mind!
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