BLOG: Ayn Rand's Work Continues to Captivate and Inspire

Patch contributor Lauren Lola kicks off her second blog series dedicated entirely to books; beginning with analyzing some of the works of Ayn Rand.

This is the intro to a blog series entirely dedicated to discussing, analyzing and reviewing books spanning from various genres and categories that have either been released within recent time or have been around awhile but aren’t as known about or read.

Author, screenwriter and philosopher Ayn Rand just may be considered one of the most in-depth, wisest voices to come into American literature within the past century.  Being an avid bookworm, it only seemed natural for me to take in upon myself and read her renowned novel, "The Fountainhead," the summer following my first year of college.

To maintain the thoughts, ideas and opinions of the individual mind are just as powerful and important than that of the collective perspective.  This philosophy is emphasized a lot in Rand’s work and in the case of "The Fountainhead," it gets to the point where the protagonist is standing up for what he believes in, despite the consequences of his decision.

Taking place from the 1920s to the 1940s in New York City, the protagonist, Howard Roark, is an aspiring architect who wants to create and design original architectural designs.  Living in a society where copying designs from ancient times is the norm, this causes him to stick out like a thumb from society and is looked down on for that.

Throughout the course of the novel, Howard is kicked out of architecture school, loses a lot of jobs and is publicly humiliated.  Anything that can easily tear a person down is thrown his way, but Howard still stands strong and firm with his beliefs.

"The Fountainhead" is a piece of philosophy but even more so, it’s a novel that has been inspiring readers everywhere.  Even though it was published in 1943, in some ways its themes and values can be applied to society today.  While individualism is much more appreciated in today’s time than ever before, there are still certain existing circumstances and situations where the collective thought can easily overrule individualism.  "The Fountainhead" is an approximately 700-page reminder to stay true to yourself and the values you stand for.

"Anthem," Rand’s shortest book she ever wrote which was first published in England in 1938, is another story dedicated to the theme of individualism versus collectivism- but to an extreme.  Taking place in a future society where collectivism literally rules while the usage of the words “I” and “ego” are an automatic death sentence, one man, known for the most part by the name of Equality 7-2521, is a bit different from his “brothers.”  Through a series of journal-style entries where “we” takes the place of where “I” should be, Equality 7-2521 records his observations and ideas that don’t fit in to society’s way of life, coming to terms with having an individual mind and the unfamiliar happening of falling in love.

Unlike Rand’s other novels, it’s a science fiction book but even still, it’s evident that she doesn’t stray far from the themes covered in "The Fountainhead."  Despite its abstract setting in an automaton-like society, "Anthem" is unquestionably a good read on just how valuable individualism is.

It’s nice when you come across books where they are not only excellent as far as the writing quality goes but are inspiring to the reader as well.  Rand’s books do just that.  In fact, while I was reading "The Fountainhead," I couldn’t help but think to myself, Too bad I didn’t read anything like this in high school.

I’ve gone through the entire school system here in Newark and what appeared to be a continual recurrence in my English classes at and was reading and analyzing books where either someone dies or gets raped (or both).  Reading depressing material such as John Steinbeck’s "Of Mice and Men" and Maya Angelou’s "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" got old really fast and I know for a fact that not a lot of my classmates enjoyed reading these books either.  If anything, the only assigned reading I actually enjoyed while in high school was Amy Tan’s "The Joy Luck Club."  At least that book had a good outcome in the end.

Reading and discussing the classics is essential at that level of education and I believe Rand’s work can even the scale as far as finding a balance between “feel good” and depressing material goes.  Her philosophy has been highly embraced by many who’ve read her work and is guaranteed not to disappoint.  She stayed very true to her philosophy in her own life, for as it says on the “About the Author” page in "Anthem," she became a writer not for the sake of mankind but for her own happiness in creating people she could respect.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Lauren Lola July 02, 2012 at 09:06 PM
In the event of preventing confusion in the possibly near future, I'm posting this here to make this clarification: Is this my second blog post on Patch? Yes. Does it have any relation to my first one? Nope. That's because the first one is the intro blog to a series I will be doing dedicated entirely to motivating young people to pursue their goals and ambitions in life. As it says at the beginning of this one, this is the intro blog for my second series entirely devoted to books. I do plan to do a third series. What the subject matter will be has yet to be decided. However, when I know, you'll know. I hope this all makes sense now and I hope you enjoy!
Rob Sorensen July 03, 2012 at 09:37 PM
I'm glad you've focused on Ayn Rand as progressives get upset by such authors. The concept of individual freedom, enterprise and self determination free of Leviathan are powerful. Congratulations to Lauren.
Albert Rubio July 04, 2012 at 02:37 AM
<===== Howard Roark from the Fountainhead Film. "The Fountainhead is a 1949 American film directed by King Vidor, based on the best-selling book of the same name by Ayn Rand, who wrote the screenplay adaptation. The film and novel focus on Howard Roark, an individualistic young architect who chooses to struggle in obscurity rather than compromise his artistic and personal vision, following his battle to practice what the public sees as modern architecture, which he believes to be superior, despite an establishment centered on tradition-worship. The complex relationships between Roark and the various kinds of individuals who assist or hinder his progress, or both, allow the film to be at once a romantic drama and a philosophical work. Roark is Rand's embodiment of the human spirit, and his struggle represents the triumph of individualism over collectivism."
Albert Rubio July 04, 2012 at 02:52 AM
Lauren, I'm glad young people like you are still discovering Rand. I discovered Rand only about 5 years ago, so I have much more to lament about lost time. While I love the Fountainhead, Rand's greatest work is Atlas Shrugged. This is a longer read but worth it. I am just past half way through the second time around. In her collection of essays, "Capitalism, the unknown ideal," she refers to that work as “a nonfiction footnote to Atlas Shrugged,” I look forward to see what other books you might discuss. I am a believer in reading the Classics (Greek and Roman to start with). Also, the Mises Institute (www.mises.org) has many worthwhile intellectual books which can be generously downloaded for FREE. You can see some of my reading at my blog www.Newark-Salon.com Cheers.
Michael R. Brown August 03, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Rand has a great deal of depth - more than almost anyone knows. Glad you have started your journey. : )


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