Literature

Ayn Rand: managing expectations

It is no secret that I come to The Fountainhead with rather low expectations. Everything I’ve heard, even sometimes from otherwise admirers, suggests that Ayn’s prose will:

  1. Exist purely for the service of an extremely rigid political idea. There will be no variety, no fun to be had, except to hammer home the message of objectivism, individualism and capitalism at every point.
  2. Be mostly dialogue, and contain extremely long and didactic soliloquies. There will be a lot of telling and not showing.
  3. Be extremely literal and earnest; irony, ambiguity, and humour will be absent
  4. Be indifferent to realistic descriptions of psychology; the surrounding world; the practice of professions; and personal relationships.
  5. Contain some very dubious sexual politics

I list these to make my initial biases explicit. My aim in reading The Fountainhead is to give credit where it’s due – I want to acknowledge where Rand’s text is good (or even just ok), and particularly where it bucks these trends. Hey, sometimes low expectations can be a good thing.

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