The Fountainhead

UPDATE (2019): If you enjoyed my review of The Fountainhead, you may also like my new book, Commonwealth: A Novel of Utopia, now publishing serially through Patreon. Sign up for as little as $1 a month, or if you don’t feel you can afford that, just e-mail me and I’ll share the manuscript with you.


Once More Into the Breach (January 6, 2017)
The Fountainhead is a chance to see Ayn Rand’s philosophy at an earlier, less-developed stage.

Part 1

Chapter 1

Our Hero (January 13, 2017)
In which we meet Howard Roark, the stereotypical Randian character who has no personality traits except a sociopathic disregard for other human beings.

We Don’t Need No Education (January 20, 2017)
Kids these days, they’ve got no work ethic.

Out With the Old (January 27, 2017)
Screw you, Aristotle.

A Very Bad Architect (February 3, 2017)
The worst possible profession for a stubborn nonconformist.

Chapter 2

No Man Is an Island (February 10, 2017)
Caring about other people’s opinions isn’t a strange or abnormal trait.

Know Thyself (February 17, 2017)
What, you mean everyone doesn’t know exactly what they want to do with their lives from birth?

Chapter 3

McMansion Hell (February 24, 2017)
If you’ve got it, flaunt it.

Market Forces (March 3, 2017)
Making buildings that people want to live and work in? Who cares about that?

The Art of the Interview (March 10, 2017)
How to not get hired.

Chapter 4

Roaring Twenties (March 17, 2017)
The evocative, glamorous setting of the 1920s… is completely ignored by this novel.

A Dream Deferred (March 24, 2017)
Why do all the worthless morons I’m surrounded by dislike me?

Chapter 5

Good Classic (March 31, 2017)
A hero of invincible integrity, until the plot requires otherwise.

Know Your Customer (April 7, 2017)
Figuring out what your clients want and are willing to pay for? Who cares about that?

Chapter 6

The Buried Past (April 14, 2017)
Don’t know much about history.

A Randian Guide to Retirement (April 21, 2017)
What should happen to a heroic creator when he’s too old or ill to keep working?

Why So Serious? (April 28, 2017)
Alert the media: it’s a joke in an Ayn Rand novel.

Chapter 7

A Friend in Need (May 5, 2017)
How dare you offer me a job!

Selling the Dream (May 12, 2017)
Even rationalists need people skills.

Remembering Seneca Village (May 19, 2017)
Roark only cares about his buildings, not any people who may have been displaced to build them.

Hard Hat Zone (May 26, 2017)
How many people died building those majestic skyscrapers?

Chapter 8

As Long As It’s Black (June 2, 2017)
The client’s wishes count, assuming it’s what I wanted to do anyway.

New York, New York (June 9, 2017)
Why do the good guys love a city built by evil classical architects?

Chapter 9

American Eclectic (June 16, 2017)
Another illustration of Rand’s belief that selling what your customers want to buy is a sin in business.

Hooray for Unions (June 23, 2017)
A particularly stark example of how Ayn Rand’s political views changed over time.

Bizarro Ayn Rand (June 30, 2017)
She am hold opposite opinions of real Objectivist!

Chapter 10

Serpent’s Tooth (July 7, 2017)
The author has no interest in explaining why her characters are the way they are.

Job-Hopper (July 14, 2017)
Serves you right for taking a chance on hiring me.

Chapter 11

Work for Hire (July 21, 2017)
Rand skips over what could’ve been a genuine and realistic obstacle for her hero to face.

Roark the Groucho (July 28, 2017)
He won’t join any club that would have him as a member.

Architectosexual (August 4, 2017)
Roark’s real-life inspiration was a bad structural engineer who thought he was a good one.

Machines for Living (August 11, 2017)
You can’t build houses that are good for people if you don’t understand people.

Chapter 12

How the Other Half Lives (August 18, 2017)
Another example of how Ayn Rand’s political views evolved.

Rebel Without a Cause (August 25, 2017)
There is none righteous, no, not even one.

Chapter 13

Beton Brut (September 1, 2017)
For all that The Fountainhead idolizes architecture, it has little to say about the technologies that make architecture possible.

Mad Men (September 8, 2017)
Advertising: it works.

The Customer Is Always Wrong (September 15, 2017)
The way to be an individualist is to do exactly what I tell you.

Sexual Selection (September 22, 2017)
The peacock’s tail, the lion’s mane, and classical buildings.

Americans with Disabilities (September 29, 2017)
A house that my elderly family members can get around in? Who cares about that?

Chapter 14

Who Moves the World? (October 6, 2017)
Ayn Rand seems to have forgotten who’s the heroic creator and who’s the second-hander.

The Rent Is Too Damn High (October 13, 2017)
Why cities need affordable housing.

Chapter 15

Villain Protagonist (October 20, 2017)
The Fountainhead is best when its supposed hero isn’t on the page.

Top of the World, Ma (October 27, 2017)
The difference between Stoicism and sociopathy.

Wool and Linen (November 3, 2017)
The view of architecture as a language shows what’s so absurd about Roark’s stubbornness and arbitrary rules.

Part 2

Chapter 1

Meet Cute (November 10, 2017)
She glimpsed his cruel and pitiless face, and it was love at first sight.

Chapter 2

Special Delivery (November 17, 2017)
Geology: surprisingly erotic.

Bodice-Ripper, Part 1 (November 24, 2017)
The most infamously misogynist scene in all of Ayn Rand’s works.

Bodice-Ripper, Part 2 (December 1, 2017)
Rand’s fans, like Rand herself, have overlaid the rape scene with their idea of what they want to be there rather than what’s actually there.

Chapter 3

A Shot in the Dark (December 8, 2017)
Rand’s villains resort to persuasion and democracy, while her heroes rely on terrorism and violence.

Who Knows What Evil Lurks in the Heart of Men? (December 15, 2017)
Applying your intelligence to understanding your fellow human beings is an unspeakable evil.

Chapter 4

Walk Over Corpses (December 22, 2017)
A disturbingly accurate metaphor.

Cool Girls (January 5, 2018)
Rand internalized and accepted the double standard for women and pined for her inability to personally live up to it.

Chapter 5

We’re Not Worthy (January 12, 2018)
The vast majority of humanity doesn’t deserve to breathe the same air as the True Creators.

Chapter 6

Famous Failures (January 19, 2018)
The Roark building collapse that didn’t happen, but should have.

Stalking Equals Love (January 26, 2018)
Roark and Dominique’s relationship is violent, in every sense of the word.

A Book By Its Cover (February 2, 2018)
All of Rand’s characters can be categorized based on physical appearance, and one of her villains figures this out.

Chapter 7

Hate Sex (February 9, 2018)
This scene only makes sense if Rand views sex not as a gesture of love or tenderness, but an act of contempt and sadism.

Chapter 8

Emotional Labor (February 16, 2018)
Rand’s men don’t have to understand what makes people tick, but her women do.

Down With Compassion (February 23, 2018)
Compassion as an act of evil; sex as an act of violence.

Architectural Pornography (March 2, 2018)
You’ll need a cold shower after getting an eyeful of all that hot, wet concrete and stiff rebar.

Chapter 9

Cultural Marxism (March 9, 2018)
It’s jarring to see a writer of Jewish ancestry using elements of propaganda rooted in the genocidal fantasies of the Third Reich.

Chapter 10

Horrible Bosses (March 16, 2018)
It’s not a positive sign when your boss believes that literally nothing is more important than work.

Nature Abhors a Committee (March 23, 2018)
Objectivist math: one plus one equals zero.

Profoundly Religious (March 30, 2018)
When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean, neither more nor less.

Poor Doors (April 6, 2018)
Why it’s bad for everyone when the rich retreat into their own private enclaves.

Chapter 11

For Pity’s Sake (April 13, 2018)
Depression, weakness, compassion, and other emotions we should never feel.

Small-Souled Men (April 20, 2018)
The paradox of a misanthrope building a temple intended to uplift humanity.

Chapter 12

City of God (April 27, 2018)
There’s more than one kind of religious architecture.

A Fool for a Client (May 4, 2018)
Howard Roark shrugs in his own defense.

Chapters 13 & 14

Love in the Time of Parasites (May 11, 2018)
To say “I love you,” one must first agree with everything Ayn Rand says.

Chapter 15

Vanitas (May 18, 2018)
How can you be certain that your life meant something? Ayn Rand doesn’t know either.

Crimes Against Architecture (May 25, 2018)
The life, death and rebirth of Pennsylvania Station.

The Jewish Eugenicist (June 1, 2018)
The Fountainhead echoes the Nazi ethic of treating the disabled as “life unworthy of life”.

The Background Depression (June 8, 2018)
The era-defining economic disaster of the 20s and 30s… is completely ignored by this novel.

Part 3

Chapter 1

Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda (June 15, 2018)
The man who could have been… a more interesting protagonist for this novel.

Gangs of New York (June 22, 2018)
Why Randian heroes are genetically superior; how cities are designed to keep the poor and the homeless out.

If It Bleeds, It Leads (June 29, 2018)
Why investigative journalism is evil.

White Picket Fence (July 6, 2018)
Suburbs, white flight, and the enduring legacy of American racism.

Chapter 2

Bridge and Tunnel (July 13, 2018)
Suburban sprawl and the real costs of commuting.

Chapter 3

Indecent Proposal (July 20, 2018)
For a book written by a woman, The Fountainhead has a surprisingly grim moral for what women should aspire to.

My Dinner with Wynand (July 27, 2018)
Why devotion to your wife is a character flaw.

Chapter 4

All You Need Is Love (August 3, 2018)
Loving humanity means hating humans, and vice versa.

Megaprojects (August 10, 2018)
Will you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean?

Chapter 5

Don’t Ever Change (August 17, 2018)
Rand’s protagonists can step twice in the same river.

Flyover States (August 24, 2018)
For a conservative, Ayn Rand was a surprising embodiment of the “coastal elitist” stereotype.

Retail Apocalypse (August 31, 2018)
Why Roark and Dominique’s eventual relationship is doomed; the death of the American mall.

Chapter 6

There Can Be Only One (September 7, 2018)
Building in styles that Howard Roark doesn’t like is bad, but trying to build like him is also bad.

Chapter 7

Soul-Searching (September 14, 2018)
Why second-handers are the best lovers; why wanting to find yourself is a sign of evil.

Chapter 8

First Broadway… Then the World (September 21, 2018)
You can savor a fine steak and still sometimes want a greasy hamburger.

Chapter 9

Power Corrupts (September 28, 2018)
But not according to The Fountainhead.

Part 4

Chapter 1

Green Space (October 5, 2018)
Nature and wilderness aren’t just a waste of space.

Subprime, U.S.A. (October 12, 2018)
Florida swampland for sale!

Springtime for Hitler (October 19, 2018)
War and violence are bad, sure, but not catering to every whim of an Objectivist Hero is worse.

Trust No One (October 26, 2018)
Cooperation is for suckers and inferior mortals.

Chapter 2

White Picket Fence, Part 2 (November 2, 2018)
The dark side of homeownership.

Living Small (November 9, 2018)
The benefits of downsizing.

Chapter 3

Non-Attachment (November 16, 2018)
A surprisingly Buddhist moral for an Ayn Rand novel.

Chekhov’s Misfire (November 23, 2018)
All setup, no payoff.

Chapter 4

Older and Wiser (November 30, 2018)
If you don’t like the same books, music and clothing at sixty that you did at sixteen, there’s something wrong with you.

Chapter 5

Eminent Domain (December 7, 2018)
An easily abused power, but there are times when it’s an essential tool in the state’s arsenal.

Chapter 6

NIMBY & BANANA (December 14, 2018)
Increasing the freedom of some people might mean decreasing the freedom of others.

Historic Preservation (December 21, 2018)
The value of protecting the past.

Workers of the World, Unite (December 28, 2018)
The historic presidency of FDR and the New Deal… is completely ignored by this novel.

Chapter 7

The Projects, Part 1 (January 4, 2019)
It’s cheaper to house people than to let them go homeless.

The Projects, Part 2 (January 11, 2019)
To understand the history of housing in America, you have to understand the history of race in America, which is a lesson Ayn Rand steadfastly refused to learn.

Chapter 8

Neither Hurt Nor Help (January 18, 2019)
Actually, every man is an island.

Rent Control (January 25, 2019)
As Yogi Berra might have said, “Nobody wants to rent there anymore – it’s too expensive.”

Chapter 9

The Ayn Rand Theory of Everything (February 1, 2019)
Howard Roark’s real-life inspiration disproves the idea that aesthetics and philosophy always match.

Ink by the Barrel (February 8, 2019)
Why is it that a socialist bad guy can sway public opinion but an Objectivist Hero can’t?

A History of Slums (February 15, 2019)
An unexpectedly pro-social-justice message to find in Ayn Rand.

Who’s Afraid of a Little Gentrification? (February 22, 2019)
It’s not a black-and-white morality play in either direction.

Chapter 10

Fallen Woman (March 1, 2019)
There’s one character in The Fountainhead who learns, grows and wins a happy ending, even if Ayn Rand didn’t think that’s what she was writing.

Chapter 11

Vox Populi (March 8, 2019)
If pleasing the masses is wrong, what’s an Objectivist journalist supposed to do?

For Their Own Good (March 15, 2019)
Rand’s assertion that the vast majority of people will always hate and persecute Objectivist Heroes sits uneasily with her belief that it’s wrong to seek political power.

Chapter 12

Holy of Holies (March 22, 2019)
Rand’s heroes are so much better than the rest of us that merely coming in contact with their genius is fatal to lesser mortals.

The Big Kaboom (March 29, 2019)
Dominique almost killing herself trying to help Howard Roark is a perfect, unintentional commentary on the sadism of Randian relationships.

Chapter 13

Blockbusting (April 5, 2019)
Ayn Rand is steadfastly uninterested in what happens to the people who were about to move into the housing project that her hero destroys.

Yellow Journalism (April 12, 2019)
How dare you accuse me of doing something I actually did!

Chapter 14

Villain Rant (April 19, 2019)
The classic monologue where the bad guy reveals his evil plan.

Ontology of Villainy (April 26, 2019)
Rand’s bad guys want to destroy the world for no reason at all.

Turn That Frown Upside Down (May 3, 2019)
Happiness is a good thing – or is it?

Chapter 15

Stop the Presses! (May 10, 2019)
Ayn Rand’s startling endorsement of labor unions, and why she never learned the lesson taught by her own book.

Chapter 16

Rand vs. Rand (May 17, 2019)
The central animating principles of The Fountainhead and of Atlas Shrugged are fatally at odds.

Chapter 17

Castle Doctrine (May 24, 2019)
How bad zoning perpetuates segregation and the affordability crisis.

Chapter 18

Trial of the Century (May 31, 2019)
The only accusations that the bad guys are allowed to make are the ones that the good guys accept and treat as praise.

Prometheus Unbound (June 7, 2019)
It’s easy to make history fit your ideological framework when you can make up whatever facts you want.

Nasty, Brutish and Short (June 14, 2019)
Ayn Rand’s philosophy holds that having to interact with your fellow human beings is a grudging, unpleasant necessity.

Jury Nullification (June 21, 2019)
Ayn Rand repeats her Big Lie about slavery and envisions a justice system that runs on random vigilante violence.

Chapter 19

Rubber Room (June 28, 2019)
In this story, the bad guy wins.

Urban Renewal (July 5, 2019)
Why there are no second chances in Ayn Rand novels, and America’s infrastructure maintenance time bomb.

Undertaking Preposterous (July 12, 2019)
Why you shouldn’t build a city in a desert.

Chapter 20

The Sexy Lamp (July 19, 2019)
The grand contradiction of The Fountainhead is that it was written to denounce those who put their self-esteem in others’ hands, yet its heroine derives her life’s purpose from the approval of a man.

Caput Mundi (July 26, 2019)
The history and evolution of cities, and what it means that humanity is now an urban species.

The Movie

Cutting Room Floor (August 2, 2019)
How and why the film version of The Fountainhead compresses and changes the plot of the book.

Hays Code (August 9, 2019)
Ayn Rand versus Hollywood censorship.

Life Imitates Art (August 16, 2019)
Even the grand doyenne of individualism turned out not to be as self-reliant as her protagonists.

A Faithful Adaptation (August 23, 2019)
The Fountainhead bombed at the box office because of, not in spite of, Ayn Rand’s hand on the tiller.