I am a 30 year old architect. I read fountainhead for the juicy details of big time architecture. Rand wrote a story that is both bigger than life and true to life. She was a voracious researcher and a highly imaginative writer.
Art imitates life in Fountainhead, in glorified fashion. I can attest from personal experience that a career in architecture does indeed include elements such as school rivalries, office politics, insecurities, megalomania, long hours designing, critiques, skyscrapers, mansions, engineers, contractors, tradesmen, and wealthy clients.
There is mediocrity in American architecture, and there was a modernistic movement in the early twentieth century. Rand abridged it for her story. The lives of her magnified characters are entangled in destiny. This could never happen in real life, could it?
Many scenes are so confident and gritty I cannot forget them. Also, her building descriptions are vivid and beautiful.
As you can tell, I needed some extra excitement in my 9 to 5. I thank Rand for the greatest American story about architects that I know of.
Only, I wish she would have finished it.
I have a big problem with the last third of the book. A misplaced dialectic of philosophy cuts into her ending. The ending is missing something. If only Rand would have kept her artistry and philosophy more separated.
Thus, as is, Fountainhead ultimately is not literature to me, but propaganda. And every person should be wary of propaganda. The message of this story is not universal. It is a mistake for young readers to imitate Rand's protagonist.
Roark is the most wooden hero. He is a robot programmed to design masterpieces. A puppet in a book, not to be confused with a real life fountainhead.
Instead of anthropormizing Roark, look for real life leaders who struggle and ultimately change our world. I know I'm just a regular architect. If I was a fountainhead, I would know it. Don't be a player hater.