The Fountainhead

novel by Ayn Rand

The Fountainhead (1943) is a novel by Ayn Rand about an idealistic young architect who chooses to struggle in obscurity rather than compromise his artistic and personal vision. The book follows his battle to practice modern architecture, which he believes to be superior, despite an establishment centered on tradition-worship.

Civilization is the process of setting man free from men.

Quotes edit

Except as otherwise noted, page numbers correspond to the hardcover Bobbs-Merrill edition (1943)

Part I ( Peter Keating ) edit

  • Howard Roark laughed.
    • Chapter I, p. 9 ; opening sentence
  • "Do you mean to tell me that you're thinking seriously of building that way, when and if you are an architect?"
    "My dear fellow, who will let you?"
    "That's not the point. The point is, who will stop me?"
    • Chapter I, p. 17 ; the Dean and Howard Roark
  • "Why do you want me to think that this is great architecture?" He pointed to the picture of the Parthenon.
    "That," said the Dean, "is the Parthenon!"
    "So it is."
    "I haven't the time to waste on silly questions."
    "All right, then." Roark got up, he took a long ruler from the desk, he walked to the picture. "Shall I tell you what's rotten about it?"
    "It’s the Parthenon!" said the Dean.
    "Yes, God damn it, the Parthenon."
    The ruler struck the glass over the picture.
    "Look, " said Roark. "The famous flutings on the the famous columns—what are they there for? To hide the joints in the wood—when columns were made of wood, only these aren't, they're marble. The triglyphs, what are they? Wood. Wooden beams, the way they had to be laid when people began to build wooden shacks. Your Greeks took marble and they made copies of their wooden structures out of it, because others had done it that way. Then your masters of the Renaissance came along and made copies in plaster of copies in marble of copies in wood. Now here we are, making copies in steel and concrete of copies in plaster of copies in marble of copies in wood. Why?"
    • Chapter I, p. 23; Howard Roark to the Dean
  • "Here are my rules: what can be done with one substance must never be done with another. No two materials are alike. No two sites on earth are alike. No two buildings have the same purpose. The purpose, the site, the material determine the shape. Nothing can be reasonable or beautiful unless it's made by one central idea, and the idea sets every detail. A building is alive, like a man. Its integrity is to follow its own truth, its one single theme, and to serve its own single purpose. A man doesn't borrow pieces of his body. A building doesn't borrow hunks of its soul. Its maker gives it the soul and every wall, window and stairway to express it."
    • Chapter I, p. 18 ; Howard Roark to the Dean
  • "Every form has its own meaning. Every man creates his meaning and form and goal. Why is it so important—what others have done? Why does it become sacred by the mere fact of not being your own? Why is anyone and everyone right—so long as it's not yourself? Why does the number of those others take the place of truth? Why is truth made a mere matter of arithmetic—and only of addition at that? Why is everything twisted out of all sense to fit everything else? There must be some reason. I don't know. I've never known it. I'd like to understand."
    • Chapter I, pp. 18-19 ; Howard Roark to the Dean
  • "But you see, I have, let's say, sixty years to live. Most of that time will be spent working. I've chosen the work I want to do. If I find no joy in it, then I'm only condemning myself to sixty years of torture. And I can find the joy only if I do my work in the best way possible to me. But the best is a matter of standards—and I set my own standards. I inherit nothing. I stand at the end of no tradition. I may, perhaps, stand at the beginning of one."
    • Chapter I, p. 24; Howard Roark to the Dean
  • "I don't intend to build in order to have clients; I intend to have clients in order to build."
    • Chapter I, p. 20 ; Howard Roark to the Dean
  • "If you want my advice, Peter, you've made a mistake already. By asking me. By asking anyone. Never ask people. Not about your work. Don't you know what you want? How can you stand it, not to know?"
    • Chapter II, p. 28 ; Howard Roark to Peter Keating
  • "How do you always manage to decide?"
    "How can you let others decide for you?"
    • Chapter II, p. 28 ; Peter Keating and Howard Roark
  • It was not necessary to design buildings any longer, only to photograph them; the architect with the best library was the best architect. […]
    Henry Cameron had nothing to offer against this; nothing but a faith he held merely because it was his own. He had nobody to quote and nothing of importance to say. He said only that the form of a building must follow its function; that the structure of a building is the key to its beauty; that new methods of construction demand new forms; that he wished to build as he wished and for that reason only. […]
    Men hate passion, any great passion. Henry Cameron made a mistake: he loved his work. That was why he fought. That was why he lost.
    • Chapter III, p. 41
  • "Do you always have to have a purpose? Do you always have to be so damn serious? Can't you ever do things without reason, just like everybody else? You're so serious, so old. Everything's important with you, everything's great, significant in some way, every minute, even when you keep still. Can't you ever be comfortable—and unimportant?"
    • Chapter VII, p. 88 ; Peter Keating and Howard Roark
  • " […] the only way in which we can have any law at all is to have as little of it as possible. I see no ethical standard by which to measure the whole unethical conception of a State, except in the amount of time, of thought, of money, of effort and of obedience, which a society extorts from its every member. Its value and its civilization are in inverse ratio to that extortion. There is no conceivable law by which a man can be forced to work on any terms except those he chooses to set. There is no conceivable law to prevent him from setting them—just as there is none to force his employer to accept them. The freedom to agree or disagree is the foundation of our kind of society—and the freedom to strike is a part of it."
    • Chapter IX, p. 110 ; Austen Heller, speech to meeting of strike sympathizers
  • "A house can have integrity, just like a person; and just as seldom."
    • Chapter XI, p. 140 ; Howard Roark to Austin Heller
  • "If I found a job, a project, an idea or a person I wanted—I'd have to depend on the whole world. Everything has strings leading to everything else. We're all so tied together. We're all in a net, the net is waiting, and we're pushed into it by one single desire. You want a thing and it's precious to you. Do you know who is standing ready to tear it out of your hands? You can't know, it may be so involved and so far away, but someone is ready, and you're afraid of them all. And you cringe and you crawl and you beg and you accept them—just so they'll let you keep it."
    • Chapter XII, p. 148 ; Dominique Francon to Alvah Scarret
  • "As a matter of fact, one can feel some respect for people when they suffer. They have a certain dignity. But have you ever looked at them when they're enjoying themselves? That's when you see the truth."
    • Chapter XII, p. 149 ; Dominique Francon to Alvah Scarret
  • "What do you want? Perfection?"
    "—or nothing. So, you see, I take the nothing."
    "That doesn’t make sense."
    "I take the only desire one can permit oneself. Freedom, Alvah. Freedom."
    "You call that freedom?"
    "To ask nothing. To expect nothing. To depend on nothing."
    • Chapter XII, p. 149 ; Alvah Scarret and Dominique Francon
  • "You know, there's a thing that stumps me. You're the coldest man I know. And I can't understand why—knowing that you're actually a fiend in your quiet sort of way—why I always feel, when I see you, that you're the most life-giving person I've ever met."
    • Chapter XIII, pp. 166-167 ; Austin Heller to Howard Roark
  • "Now take a human body. Why wouldn't you like to see a human body with a curling tail with a crest of ostrich feathers at the end? And with ears shaped like acanthus leaves? It would be ornamental, you know, instead of the stark, bare ugliness we have now. Well, why don't you like the idea? Because it would be useless and pointless. Because the beauty of the human body is that it hasn't a single muscle which doesn't serve its purpose; that there's not a line wasted; that every detail of it fits one idea, the idea of a man and the life of a man. Will you tell me why, when it comes to a building, you don't want it to look as if it had any sense or purpose, you want to choke it with trimmings, you want to sacrifice its purpose to its envelope—not knowing even why you want that kind of an envelope? You want it to look like a hybrid beast produced by crossing the bastards of ten different species until you get a creature without guts, without heart or brain, a creature all pelt, tail, claws and feathers? Why? You must tell me, because I’ve never been able to understand it."
    • Chapter XIII, p. 171 ; Howard Roark to Nathaniel Janss

Part II ( Ellsworth M. Toohey ) edit

  • "There's nothing as significant as a human face. Nor as eloquent. We can never really know another person, except by our first glance at him. Because, in that glance, we know everything. Even though we're not always wise enough to unravel the knowledge. Have you ever thought about the style of a soul, Kiki?"
    "The ... what?"
    "The style of the soul. Do you remember the famous philosopher who spoke of the style of a civilization? He called it 'style.' He said it was the nearest word he could find for it. He said that every civilization has its one basic principle, one single, supreme, determining conception, and every endeavor of men within that civilization is true, unconsciously and irrevocably, to that one principle.... I think, Kiki, that every human soul has a style of its own, also. Its one basic theme. You'll see it reflected in every thought, every act, every wish of that person. The one absolute, the one imperative in that living creature. Years of studying a man won't show it to you. His face will. You'd have to write volumes to describe a person. Think of his face. You need nothing else."
    "That sounds fantastic, Ellsworth. And unfair, if true. It would leave people naked before you."
    "It's worse than that. It also leaves you naked before them. You betray yourself by the manner in which you react to a certain face."
    • Chapter VI, pp. 281-282 ; Ellsworth Toohey and Kiki Holcombe
  • "Every loneliness is a pinnacle."
    • Chapter VIII, p. 295 ; Ellsworth Toohey to Dominique Francon
  • "You're much worse than a bitch. You're a saint. Which shows why saints are dangerous and undesirable."
    • Chapter VIII, p. 297 ; Ellsworth Toohey to Dominique Francon
  • "It's good to suffer. Don't complain. Bear, bow, accept—and be grateful that God has made you suffer. For this makes you better than the people who are laughing and happy. If you don't understand this, don't try to understand. Everything bad comes from the mind, because the mind asks too many questions. It is blessed to believe, not to understand. So if you didn't get passing grades, be glad of it. It means that you are better than the smart boys who think too much and too easily."
    • Chapter IX, p. 318 ; Ellsworth Toohey
  • "We are all brothers under the skin, and I, for one, would be willing to skin humanity to prove it."
    • Chapter IX, pp. 324-325 ; Ellsworth Toohey
  • "The causes of illusions are not pretty to discover. They’re either vicious or tragic."
    • Chapter X, p. 332 ; Kent Lansing to Howard Roark
  • "When facing society, the man most concerned, the man who is to do the most and contribute the most, has the least to say. It's taken for granted that he has no voice and the reasons he could offer are rejected in advance as prejudiced—since no speech is ever considered, but only the speaker. It's so much easier to pass judgment on a man than on an idea. Though how in hell one passes judgment on a man without considering the content of his brain is more than I'll ever understand. However, that's how it's done."
    • Chapter X, p. 333 ; Kent Lansing to Howard Roark
  • "I want a good hotel, and I have certain standards of what is good, and they're my own, and you're the one who can give me what I want. And when I fight for you, I’m doing—on my side of it—just what you do when you design a building. Do you think integrity is the monopoly of the artist? And what, incidentally, do you think integrity is? The ability not to pick a watch out of your neighbor’s pocket? No, it's not as easy as that. If that were all, I'd say ninety-five percent of humanity were honest, upright men. Only, as you can see, they aren't. Integrity is the ability to stand by an idea. That presupposes the ability to think. Thinking is something one doesn't borrow or pawn. […] Don't worry. They're all against me. But I have one advantage: they don't know what they want. I do."
    • Chapter X, p. 333 ; Kent Lansing to Howard Roark
  • "Now, talk. Talk about the things you really want said. Don't tell me about your family, your childhood, your friends or your feelings. Tell me about the things you think."
    Mallory looked at him incredulously and whispered:
    "How did you know that?"
    Roark smiled and said nothing.
    "How did you know what's been killing me? Slowly, for years, driving me to hate people when I don't want to hate.... Have you felt it, too? Have you seen how your best friends love everything about you—except the things that count? And your most important is nothing to them, nothing, not even a sound they can recognize. You mean, you want to hear? You want to know what I do and why I do it, you want to know what I think? It's not boring to you? It's important?"
    "Go ahead," said Roark.
    Then he sat for hours, listening, while Mallory spoke of his work, of the thoughts behind his work, of the thoughts that shaped his life, spoke gluttonously, like a drowning man flung out to shore, getting drunk on huge, clean snatches of air.
    • Chapter XI, p. 351 ; Howard Roark and Steven Mallory
  • "I don't believe it matters to me—that they're going to destroy it. Maybe it hurts so much that I don't even know I'm hurt. But I don't think so. If you want to carry it for my sake, don't carry more than I do. I'm not capable of suffering completely. I never have. It goes only down to a certain point and then it stops. As long as there is that untouched point, it's not really pain.
    "Where does it stop?"
    "Where I can think of nothing and feel nothing except that I designed that temple. I built it. Nothing else can seem very important."
    "You shouldn't have built it. You shouldn't have delivered it to the sort of thing they're doing."
    "That doesn't matter. Not even that they'll destroy it. Only that it had existed."
    • Chapter XII, p. 366 ; Howard Roark and Dominique Francon
  • "When you see a man casting pearls without getting even a pork chop in return—it is not against the swine that you feel indignation. It is against the man who valued his pearls so little that he was willing to fling them into the muck and let them become the occasion for a whole concert of grunting, transcribed by the court stenographer."
    • Chapter XII, p. 378 ; testimony of Dominique Francon
  • "Ask anything of men. Ask them to achieve wealth, fame, love, brutality, murder, self-sacrifice. But don't ask them to achieve self-respect. They will hate your soul."
    • Chapter XII, p. 379 ; testimony of Dominique Francon
  • "We must not think. We must believe. Believe, Katie, even if your mind objects. Don't think. Believe. Trust your heart, not your brain. Don't think. Feel. Believe."
    • Chapter XIII, p. 388 ; Ellsworth Toohey to Catherine Halsey
  • "We never need to say anything to each other when we're together. This is—for the time when we won't be together. I love you, Dominique. As selfishly as the fact that I exist. As selfishly as my lungs breath air. I breathe for my own necessity, for the fuel of my body, for my survival. I've given you not my sacrifice or my pity, but my ego and my naked need. This is the only way you can wish to be loved. This is the only way I can want you to love me. If you married me now, I would become your whole existence. But I would not want you then. You would not want yourself—and so you would not love me long. To say 'I love you' one must first know how to say the 'I'. The kind of surrender I could have from you now would give me nothing but an empty hulk. If I demanded it, I'd destroy you. That's why I won't stop you. I'll let you go to your husband. I don't know how I'll live through tonight, but I will. I want you whole, as I am, as you'll remain in the battle you've chosen. A battle is never selfless. [...] You must learn not to be afraid of the world. Not to be held by it as you are now. Never to be hurt by it as you were in that courtroom. I must let you learn it. I can't help you. You must find your own way. When you have, you'll come back to me. They won't destroy me, Dominique. And they won't destroy you. You'll win, because you've chosen the hardest way of fighting for your freedom from the world. I'll wait for you. I love you. I'm saying this now for all the years we'll have to wait. I love you, Dominique."
    • Chapter XIV, p. 400 ; Howard Roark to Dominique Keating (Francon)
  • "Mr. Roark, we're alone here. Why don't you tell me what you think of me? In any words you wish. No one will hear us."
    "But I don't think of you."
    • Chapter XV, p. 413 ; Ellsworth Toohey and Howard Roark

Part III ( Gail Wynand ) edit

  • "It's said that the worst thing one can do to a man is to kill his self-respect. But that's not true. Self-respect is something that can't be killed. The worst thing is to kill a man's pretense at it."
    • Chapter II, p. 427 ; Dominique Keating (Francon) to Peter Keating
  • "Suffering? I'm not conscious of having shown that."
    "You haven't. That's what I meant. No happy person can be quite so impervious to pain."
    • Chapter III, p. 438 ; Dominique Keating (Francon) and Gail Wynand
  • "Surely you've seen through that particular stupidity. I mean the one that claims the pig is the symbol of love for humanity—the creature that accepts anything. As a matter of fact, the person who loves everybody and feels at home everywhere is the true hater of mankind. He expects nothing of men, so no form of depravity can outrage him."
    • Chapter IV, p. 475 ; Gail Wynand to Dominique Keating (Francon)
  • "One can't love man without hating most of the creatures who pretend to bear his name. It's one or the other. One doesn't love God and sacrilege impartially. Except when one doesn't know that sacrilege has been committed. Because one doesn't know God."
    • Chapter IV, p. 476 ; Gail Wynand to Dominique Keating (Francon)
  • " [...] love is reverence, and worship, and glory, and the upward glance. Not a bandage for dirty sores. But they don't know it. Those who speak of love most promiscuously are the ones who've never felt it. They make some sort of feeble stew out of sympathy, compassion, contempt and general indifference, and they call it love. Once you've felt what it means to love as you and I know it—the total passion for the total height—you're incapable of anything less."
    • Chapter IV, p. 476 ; Gail Wynand to Dominique Keating (Francon)
  • "You're called a hater of humanity, Mrs. Keating, because you've committed the crime of knowing a love humanity has not learned to deserve."
    • Chapter IV, p. 476 ; Gail Wynand to Dominique Keating (Francon)
  • The luxury was secondary, a background so proper to him that it could be ignored. The man humbled his own wealth. She had seen people of wealth, stiff and awed before that which represented their ultimate goal. The splendor of this place was not the aim, not the final achievement of the man who leaned casually across the table. She wondered what his aim had been.
    • Chapter IV, p. 477 ; thoughts of Dominique Keating (Francon)
  • "You've never felt how small you were when looking at the ocean."
    He laughed. "Never. Nor looking at the planets. Nor at mountain peaks. Nor at the Grand Canyon. Why should I? When I look at the ocean, I feel the greatness of man. I think of man's magnificent capacity that created this ship to conquer all that senseless space. When I look at mountain peaks, I think of tunnels and dynamite. When I look at the planets, I think of airplanes."
    • Chapter IV, p.477 ; Dominique Keating (Francon) and Gail Wynand
  • "I would give the greatest sunset in the world for one sight of New York's skyline. Particularly when one can't see the details. Just the shapes. The shapes and the thought that made them. The sky over New York and the will of man made visible. What other religion do we need? And then people tell me about pilgrimages to some dank pesthole in a jungle where they go to do homage to a crumbling temple, to a leering stone monster with a pot belly, created by some leprous savage. Is it beauty and genius they want to see? Do they seek a sense of the sublime? Let them come to New York, stand on the shore of the Hudson, look and kneel. When I see the city from my window—no, I don't feel how small I am—but I feel that if a war came to threaten this, I would like to throw myself into space, over the city, and protect these buildings with my body."
    • Chapter IV, p. 478 ; Gail Wynand to Dominique Keating (Francon)
  • "I often think that he's the only one of us who's achieved immortality. I don't mean in the sense of fame and I don't mean that he won't die some day. But he's living it. I think he is what the conception really means. You know how people long to be eternal. But they die with every day that passes. When you meet them, they're not what you met last. In any given hour, they kill some part of themselves. They change, they deny, they contradict—and they call it growth. At the end there's nothing left, nothing unreversed or unbetrayed; as if there had never been an entity, only a succession of adjectives fading in and out on an unformed mass. How do they expect a permanence which they have never held for a single moment? But Howard—one can imagine him lasting forever."
    • Chapter V, p. 485 ; Steven Mallory to Dominique Keating (Francon)
  • She thought how strange it would be if she ever said "Hello" to him; one did not greet oneself each morning.
    • Chapter V, p. 494 ; thoughts of Dominique Keating (Francon)
  • "I love doing it. Every building is like a person. Single and unrepeatable."
    • Chapter V, p. 495 ; Howard Roark to Dominique Keating (Francon)
  • "Writing is a serious business and not for any stray bastard that wants to try it."
    • Chapter XII, p. 501 ; Lancelot Clokey to Ike (the playwright)
  • "Patience is always rewarded and romance is just around the corner."
    • Chapter VIII, p. 523 ; Dominique Wynand (Francon) to Sally Brent
  • " [...] love is exception-making."
    • Chapter IX, p. 532 ; Gail Wynand to Dominique Wynand (Francon)
  • "You can't fight him on his terms. You're only a tank—and that's a very clean, innocent weapon. An honest weapon that goes first, out in front, and mows everything down or takes every counterblow. He's a corrosive gas. The kind that eats lungs out."
    • Chapter IX, pp. 536-537 ; Dominique Wynand (Francon) to Gail Wynand about Ellsworth Toohey
  • "The hardest thing to explain is the glaringly evident which everybody has decided not to see."
    • Chapter IX, p. 537 ; Dominique Wynand (Francon) to Gail Wynand
  • "I love you, Dominique. I love you so much that nothing can matter to me—not even you. Can you understand that? Only my love—not your answer. Not even your indifference. I've never taken much from the world. I haven't wanted much. I've never really wanted anything. Not in the total, undivided way, not with the kind of desire that becomes an ultimatum, 'yes' or 'no,' and one can't accept the 'no' without ceasing to exist. That's what you are to me. But when one reaches that stage, it's not the object that matters, it's the desire. Not you, but I. The ability to desire like that. Nothing less is worth feeling or honoring. And I've never felt that before. Dominique, I've never known how to say 'mine' about anything. Not in the sense I say it about you. Mine. Did you call it a sense of life as exaltation? You said that. You understand. I can't be afraid. I love you, Dominique—I love you—you're letting me say it now—I love you."
    • Chapter IX, pp. 538-539 ; Gail Wynand to Dominique Wynand (Francon)

Part IV ( Howard Roark ) edit

  • He had always wanted to write music, and he could give no other identity to the thing he sought. If you want to know what it is, he told himself, listen to the first phrases of Tchaikovsky's "First Concerto"—or to the last movement of Rachmaninoff's Second. Men have not found the words for it nor the deed nor the thought, but they have found the music. Let me see that in one single act of man on earth. Let me see it made real. Let me see the answer to the promise of that music. Not servants nor those served; not altars and immolations; but the final, the fulfilled, innocent of pain. Don't help me or serve me, but let me see it once, because I need it. Don't work for my happiness, my brothers—show me yours—show me that it is possible—show me your achievement—and the knowledge will give me courage for mine.
    • Chapter I, p. 504; Thoughts of the young man with the bicycle (from the opening of Part IV)
  • "It takes two to make a very great career: The man who is great, and the man—almost rarer—who is great enough to see greatness and say so."
    • Chapter I, p. 512; Kent Lansing to Howard Roark
  • "I don't work with collectives. I don't consult, I don't co-operate, I don't collaborate."
    • Chapter I, p. 513; Howard Roark
  • "What you feel in the presence of a thing you admire is just one word—'Yes.' The affirmation, the acceptance, the sign of admittance. And that 'Yes' is more than an answer to one thing, it's a kind of 'Amen' to life, to the earth that holds this thing, to the thought that created it, to yourself for being able to see it. But the ability to say 'Yes' or 'No' is the essence of all ownership. It's your ownership of your own ego. Your soul, if you wish. Your soul has a single basic function—the act of valuing. 'Yes' or 'No,' 'I wish' or 'I do not wish.' You can't say 'Yes' without saying 'I.' There's no affirmation without the one who affirms. In this sense, everything to which you grant your love is yours.
    "Howard, that 'Yes'—once granted, can it be withdrawn?"
    • Chapter IV, pp. 539-540; Howard Roark and Gail Wynand
  • "There's so much nonsense about human inconstancy and the transience of all emotions. I've always thought that a feeling which changes never existed in the first place. There are books I liked at the age of sixteen. I still like them."
    • Chapter IV, p. 584; Gail Wynand to Howard Roark and Dominique Wynand (Francon)
  • "I regret nothing. There have been things I missed, but I ask no questions, because I have loved it, such as it has been, even the moments of emptiness, even the unanswered—and that I loved it, that is the unanswered in my life."
    • Chapter V, pp. 594-595; thoughts of Gail Wynand
  • I am Gail Wynand, the man who has committed every crime except the foremost one: that of ascribing futility to the wonderful fact of existence and seeking justification beyond myself.
    • ChapterV, p. 595; thoughts of Gail Wynand
  • "Look, Gail." Roark got up, reached out, tore a thick branch off a tree, held it in both hands, one fist closed at each end; then, his wrists and knuckles tensed against the resistance, he bent the branch slowly into an arc. "Now I can make what I want of it: a bow, a spear, a cane, a railing. That's the meaning of life."
    "Your strength?"
    "Your work." He tossed the branch aside. "The material the earth offers you and what you make of it . . . "
    • Chapter V, p. 596 ; Howard Roark and Gail Wynand
  • When she had gone upstairs, he walked to a window and stood looking up at the sky. His head thrown back, he felt the pull of his throat muscles and he wondered whether the peculiar solemnity of looking at the sky comes, not from what one contemplates, but from that uplift of one's head.
    • Chapter V, p. 598 ; thoughts of Gail Wynand
  • "Worry is a waste of emotional reserves."
    • Chapter VII, p. 615; Ellsworth Toohey to Peter Keating
  • "One loses everything when one loses one's sense of humor."
    • Chapter VII, p. 620; Ellsworth Toohey to Peter Keating
  • "To sell your soul is the easiest thing in the world. That's what everybody does every hour of his life. If I asked you to keep your soul—would you understand why that's much harder?"
    • Chapter VIII, p. 577; Howard Roark to Peter Keating
  • "To get things done, you must love the doing, not the secondary consequences. The work, not the people. Your own action, not any possible object of your charity."
    • Chapter VIII, p. 627; Howard Roark to Peter Keating
  • "The only thing that matters, my goal, my reward, my beginning, my end is the work itself. My work done my way."
    • Chapter VIII, p. 628; Howard Roark to Peter Keating
    • "My reward, my purpose, my life, is the work itself."
      • Howard Roark in The Fountainhead (film)
  • "You'll get everything society can give a man. You'll keep all the money. You'll take any fame or honor anyone might want to grant. You'll accept such gratitude as the tenants might feel. And I—I'll take what nobody can give a man, except himself. I will have built Cortlandt."
    "You’re getting more than I am, Howard."
    • Chapter VIII, p. 630 ; Howard Roark and Peter Keating
  • "I don't make comparisons. I never think of myself in relation to anyone else. I just refuse to measure myself as part of anything."
    • Chapter VIII, p. 631 ; Howard Roark to Peter Keating
  • "This is pity," he thought, and then he lifted his head in wonder. He thought that there must be something terribly wrong with a world in which this monstrous feeling is called a virtue.
    • Chapter VIII, p. 632 ; thoughts of Howard Roark
  • "Why do they always teach us that it's easy and evil to do what we want and that we need discipline to restrain ourselves? It's the hardest thing in the world—to do what we want. And it takes the greatest kind of courage. I mean, what we really want. "
    • Chapter X, p. 650 ; Peter Keating to Catherine Halsey
  • "I don't wish to be the symbol of anything. I'm only myself."
    • Chapter XI, p. 655 ; Howard Roark to Gail Wynand
  • "I'm not an altruist, Gail. I don't decide for others."
    • Chapter XI, p. 657 ; Howard Roark to Gail Wynand
  • "And isn't that the root of every despicable action? Not selfishness, but precisely the absence of a self."
    • Chapter XI, p. 658 ; Howard Roark to Gail Wynand
  • "I don't see anything evil in a desire to make money. But money is only a means to some end. If a man wants it for a personal purpose—to invest in his industry, to create, to study, to travel, to enjoy luxury—he's completely moral. But the men who place money first go much beyond that. Personal luxury is a limited endeavor. What they want is ostentation: to show, to stun, to entertain, to impress others. They're second-handers."
    • Chapter XI, p. 658 ; Howard Roark to Gail Wynand
  • "A truly selfish man cannot be affected by the approval of others."
    • Chapter XI, p. 658 ; Howard Roark to Gail Wynand
  • "It's easy to run to others. It's so hard to stand on one's own record. You can fake virtue for an audience. You can't fake it in your own eyes. Your ego is your strictest judge. They run from it. They spend their lives running. It's easier to donate a few thousand to charity and think oneself noble than to base self-respect on personal standards of personal achievement. It's simple to seek substitutes for competence—such easy substitutes; love, charm, kindness, charity. But there is no substitute for competence."
    • Chapter XI, p. 658 ; Howard Roark to Gail Wynand
  • "They have no concern for facts, ideas, work. They're concerned only with people. They don't ask: 'Is this true?' They ask: 'Is this what others think is true?' Not to judge, but to repeat. Not to do, but to give the impression of doing. Not creation, but show. Not ability, but friendship. Not merit, but pull."
    • Chapter XI, pp. 658-659 ; Howard Roark to Gail Wynand
  • "Listen to what is being preached today. Look at everyone around us. You've wondered why they suffer, why they seek happiness and never find it. If any man stopped and asked himself whether he's ever held a truly personal desire, he'd find the answer. He'd see that all his wishes, his efforts, his dreams, his ambitions are motivated by other men. He's not really struggling even for material wealth, but for the second-handers delusion—prestige. A stamp of approval, not his own. He can find no joy in the struggle and no joy when he has succeeded. He can't say about a single thing: 'This is what I wanted because I wanted it, not because it made my neighbors gape at me.' Then he wonders why he's unhappy."
    • Chapter XI, p. 660 ; Howard Roark to Gail Wynand
  • "Every form of happiness is private. Our greatest moments are personal, self-motivated, not to be touched. […] I think the only cardinal evil on earth is that of placing your prime concern within other men. I've always demanded a certain quality in the people I liked. I've always recognized it at once—and it's the only quality I respect in men. I chose my friends by that. Now I know what it is. A self-sufficient ego. Nothing else matters."
    • Chapter XI, p. 660 ; Howard Roark to Gail Wynand
  • "If one doesn't respect oneself one can have neither love nor respect for others."
    • Chapter XI, p. 660 ; Howard Roark to Gail Wynand
  • "I could die for you. But I couldn't, and wouldn't, live for you."
    • Chapter XI, p. 660 ; Howard Roark to Gail Wynand
  • "Self–sacrifice? But it is precisely the self that cannot and must not be sacrificed."
    • Chapter XIII, p. 677 ; Gail Wynand (in an editorial)
  • "If you learn how to rule one single man's soul, you can get the rest of mankind. It's the soul, Peter, the soul. Not whips or swords or fire or guns. That's why the Caesars, the Attilas, the Napoleons were fools and did not last. We will. The soul, Peter, is that which can't be ruled. It must be broken. Drive a wedge in, get your fingers on it—and the man is yours."
    • Chapter XIV, p. 690 ; Ellsworth Toohey to Peter Keating
  • "Don't set out to raze all shrines—you'll frighten men. Enshrine mediocrity—and the shrines are razed."
    • Chapter XIV, p. 691 ; Ellsworth Toohey to Peter Keating
  • "Then there's another way. Kill by laughter. Laughter is an instrument of human joy. Learn to use it as a weapon of destruction. Turn it into a sneer. It's simple. Tell them to laugh at everything. Tell them that a sense of humor is an unlimited virtue. Don't let anything remain sacred in a man’s soul—and his soul won't be sacred to him. Kill reverence and you've killed the hero in man. One doesn't reverence with a giggle."
    • Chapter XIV, p. 691 ; Ellsworth Toohey to Peter Keating
  • "Here's another way. This is most important. Don't allow men to be happy. Happiness is self-contained and self-sufficient. Happy men have no time and no use for you. Happy men are free men. So kill their joy in living. Take away from them whatever is dear or important to them. Never let them have what they want. Make them feel that the mere fact of a personal desire is evil. Bring them to a state where saying ‘I want’ is no longer a natural right, but a shameful admission. Altruism is of great help in this. Unhappy men will come to you. They'll need you. They'll come for consolation, for support, for escape. Nature allows no vacuum. Empty man's soul—and the space is yours to fill."
    • Chapter XIV, p. 691 ; Ellsworth Toohey to Peter Keating
  • "The man who speaks to you of sacrifice, speaks of slaves and masters. And intends to be the master."
    • Chapter XIV, p. 692 ; Ellsworth Toohey to Peter Keating
  • "Have you noticed that the imbecile always smiles? Man's first frown is the first touch of God on his forehead. The touch of thought."
    • Chapter XIV, p. 693 ; Ellsworth Toohey to Peter Keating
  • "You have been the one encounter in my life that can never be repeated."
    • Chapter XV, p. 710 ; Howard Roark to Gail Wynand
  • "Anything may be betrayed, anyone may be forgiven. But not those who lack the courage of their own greatness."
    • Chapter XVI, p. 720 ; thoughts of Gail Wynand
  • "What you think you've lost can neither be lost nor found. Don't let it go."
    • Chapter XVII, p. 722 ; Howard Roark (by letter) to Gail Wynand
  • "She knew that even pain can be confessed, but to confess happiness is to stand naked, delivered to the witness, yet they could let each other see it without need of protection."
    • Chapter XVII, pp. 725-726 ; thoughts of Dominique Wynand (Francon)
  • "Thousands of years ago, the first man discovered how to make fire. He was probably burned at the stake he had taught his brothers to light. He was considered an evildoer who had dealt with a demon mankind dreaded. But thereafter men had fire to keep them warm, to cook their food, to light their caves. He had left them a gift they had not conceived and he had lifted darkness off the earth. Centuries later, the first man invented the wheel. He was probably torn on the rack he had taught his brothers to build. He was considered a transgressor who ventured into forbidden territory. But thereafter, men could travel past any horizon. He had left them a gift they had not conceived and he had opened the roads of the world.
    That man, the unsubmissive and first, stands in the opening chapter of every legend mankind has recorded about its beginning. Prometheus was chained to a rock and torn by vultures—because he had stolen the fire of the gods. Adam was condemned to suffer—because he had eaten the fruit of the tree of knowledge. Whatever the legend, somewhere in the shadows of its memory mankind knew that its glory began with one and that that one paid for his courage.
    Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps down new roads armed with nothing but their own vision. Their goals differed, but they all had this in common: that the step was first, the road new, the vision unborrowed, and the response they received—hatred. The great creators—the thinkers, the artists, the scientists, the inventors—stood alone against the men of their time. Every great new thought was opposed. Every great new invention was denounced. The first motor was considered foolish. The first airplane was considered impossible. The power loom was considered vicious. Anesthesia was considered sinful. But the men of unborrowed vision went ahead. They fought, they suffered and they paid. But they won."
    • Chapter XVIII, pp. 736-737 ; testimony of Howard Roark
  • "The creators were not selfless. It is the whole secret of their power—that it was self-sufficient, self-motivated, self-generated. A first cause, a fount of energy, a life force, a Prime Mover. The creator served nothing and no one. He had lived for himself. And only by living for himself was he able to achieve the things which are the glory of mankind. Such is the nature of achievement."
    • Chapter XVIII, p. 737 ; testimony of Howard Roark
  • "Man cannot survive except through the use of his mind. He comes on earth unarmed. His brain is his only weapon. Animals obtain food by force. Man has no claws, no fangs, no horns, no great strength of muscle. He must plant his food or hunt it. To plant, he needs a process of thought. To hunt, he needs weapons, and to make weapons—a process of thought. From this simplest necessity to the highest religious abstraction, from the wheel to the skyscraper, everything we are and everything we have comes from a single attribute of man—the function of his reasoning mind.
    But the mind is an attribute of the individual. There is no such thing as a collective brain. There is no such thing as a collective thought. An agreement reached by a group of men is only a compromise or an average drawn upon many individual thoughts. It is a secondary consequence. The primary act—the process of reason—must be performed by each man alone. We can divide a meal among many men. We cannot digest it in a collective stomach. No man can use his lungs to breathe for another man. No man can use his brain to think for another. All the functions of body and spirit are private. They cannot be shared or transferred."
    • Chapter XVIII, p. 737 ; testimony of Howard Roark
  • "The creator's concern is the conquest of nature. The parasite's concern is the conquest of men."
    • Chapter XVIII, P. 738 ; testimony of Howard Roark
  • "The basic need of the creator is independence. The reasoning mind cannot work under any form of compulsion. It cannot be curbed, sacrificed or subordinated to any consideration whatsoever. It demands total independence in function and in motive. To a creator, all relations with men are secondary."
    • Chapter XVIII, p. 738 ; testimony of Howard Roark
  • "Altruism is the doctrine which demands that man live for others and place others above self."
    • Chapter XVIII, p. 738 ; testimony of Howard Roark
  • "No man can live for another. He cannot share his spirit just as he cannot share his body. But the second-hander has used altruism as a weapon of exploitation and reversed the base of mankind's moral principles. Men have been taught every precept that destroys the creator. Men have been taught dependence as a virtue."
    • Chapter XVIII, p. 738 ; testimony of Howard Roark
  • "If physical slavery is repulsive, how much more repulsive is the concept of servility of the spirit? […] But the man who enslaves himself voluntarily in the name of love is the basest of creatures. He degrades the dignity of man, and he degrades the conception of love. But that is the essence of altruism."
    • Chapter XVIII, pp. 738-739 ; testimony of Howard Roark
  • "Men have been taught that the highest virtue is not to achieve, but to give. Yet one cannot give that which has not been created. Creation comes before distribution—or there will be nothing to distribute. The need of the creator comes before the need of any possible beneficiary. Yet we are taught to admire the second-hander who dispenses gifts he has not produced above the man who made the gifts possible. We praise an act of charity. We shrug at an act of achievement."
    • Chapter XVIII, p. 739 ; testimony of Howard Roark
  • "Men have been taught that their first concern is to relieve the suffering of others. […] To make that the highest test of virtue is to make suffering the most important part of life. Then man must wish to see others suffer—in order that he may be virtuous. Such is the nature of altruism."
    • Chapter XVIII, p. 739 ; testimony of Howard Roark
  • "Men have been taught that it is a virtue to agree with others. But the creator is the man who disagrees. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to swim with the current. But the creator is the man who goes against the current. Men have been taught that it is a virtue to stand together. But the creator is the man who stands alone."
    • Chapter XVIII, p. 739 ; testimony of Howard Roark
  • "As poles of good and evil, he was offered two conceptions: egoism and altruism. Egoism was held to mean the sacrifice of others to self. Altruism—the sacrifice of self to others. This tied man irrevocably to other men and left him nothing but a choice of pain: his own pain borne for the sake of others or pain inflicted upon others for the sake of self. […] Man was forced to accept masochism as his ideal—under the threat that sadism was his only alternative."
    • Chapter XVIII, p. 739 ; testimony of Howard Roark
  • "Independence is the only gauge of human virtue and value. What a man is and makes of himself; not what he has or hasn't done for others. There is no substitute for personal dignity. There is no standard of personal dignity except independence."
    • Chapter XVIII, p. 740 ; testimony of Howard Roark
  • "The first right on earth is the right of the ego."
    • Chapter XVIII, p. 740 ; testimony of Howard Roark
  • "Every major horror of history was committed in the name of an altruistic motive."
    • Chapter XVIII, p. 741 ; testimony of Howard Roark
  • "Civilization is the progress toward a society of privacy. The savage's whole existence is public, ruled by the laws of his tribe. Civilization is the process of setting man free from men."
    • Chapter XVIII, p. Howard Roark, p. 742 ; testimony of Howard Roark
  • "I came here to say that I do not recognize anyone's right to one minute of my life. Nor to any part of my energy. Nor to any achievement of mine. No matter who makes the claim, how large their number or how great their need."
    • Chapter XVIII, p. 743 ; testimony of Howard Roark
  • "The world is perishing from an orgy of self-sacrificing."
    • Chapter XVIII, p. 743 ; testimony of Howard Roark
  • The first movement of Roark's head was not to look at the city in the window, at the judge or at Dominique. He looked at Wynand. Wynand turned sharply and walked out. He was the first man to leave the courtroom.
    • Chapter XVIII, p. 744
  • Wynand looked at his wrist watch. He said: "It's 9 o'clock. You're out of a job, Mr. Toohey. The Banner has ceased to exist."
    • Chapter XIX, p. 747 ; Gail Wynand to Ellsworth Toohey
  • "This was the end of The Banner... I think it is proper that I should meet it with you."
    • Chapter XIX, p. 748 ; Gail Wynand to Ellsworth Toohey
  • "Mankind will never destroy itself, Mr. Wynand. Nor should it think of itself as destroyed. Not so long as it does things such as this."
    • Chapter XIX, p. 751 ; Howard Roark to Gail Wynand
  • "Build it as a monument to that spirit which is yours ... and could have been mine."
    • Chapter XIX, p. 751 ; Gail Wynand to Howard Roark
  • The line of the ocean cut the sky. The ocean mounted as the city descended. She passed the pinnacles of bank buildings. She passed the crowns of courthouses. She rose above the spires of churches.
    Then there was only the ocean and the sky and the figure of Howard Roark.
    • Chapter XX, p. 754 ; conclusion

Quotes about The Fountainhead edit

  • I care very much about literature as the place where the real ethical dilemmas are met, so to have novels as transcendently awful as Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead sort of undermines my project.... I don't think there's any need to have essays advocating selfishness among human beings.
  • There have even been outright bad writers blessed by the visitation of a poetic title. Ayn Rand had one with The Fountainhead, and another with Atlas Shrugged: a bit of a mouthful, but nobody has ever spat it out without first being fascinated with what it felt like to chew. Yet if those were not two of the worst books ever written - the worst books ever written don't even get published - they were certainly among the worst books ever to be taken seriously.
  • I never made it through either of Rand’s two big novels, The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. To enjoy either, I suspect, you had to have encountered Rand in adolescence, when so many of life’s lasting enthusiasms are forged. In recent years, a few friends have urged Rand on me, and I dutifully tried both novels more than once. Each time, I found myself oscillating between fits of the giggles, at the awful prose, and irritation, at the jejune philosophy.
  • Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead is a 754-page orgy of glorification of that sternest of arts, architecture...Surely The Fountainhead is the curiosity of the year, and anyone who is taken in by it deserves a stern lecture on paper-rationing.

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