Of all the books I’ve read lately, this one sticks out by a mile.In fact I am so in love with this book that I think it deserves a post in itself.Any other book sharing space would just sound very ‘meh..’.
The lead character, Howard Roark, is like no other.If there is one thing I love more than the book (OK, almost), it is him:
‘Both men disliked Roark.He was usually disliked, from the first sight of his face, anywhere he went.His face was closed like the door of a safety vault; things locked in safety vaults are valuable; men did not care to feel that.He was a cold, disquieting presence in the room; his presence had a strange quality; it made itself felt and yet it made them feel that he wasn’t there; or perhaps it was that he was and they weren’t.’
Another excerpt, this from the antagonist-in-chief, Ellsworth Toohey (Perhaps ‘The man who could never be’ , as the author intended to portray him would be a better description?) :
” Have you ever thought of the style of a soul, Kiki?”
” The ..what ? “
” The style of a 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 a 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.”
And Howard Roark is every inch that man who knows his ‘style’, and finds an outlet for it in architecture.‘The man who was as man should be.”
” Howard Roark built a temple to the human spirit. He saw man as strong, proud, clean, wise and fearless. He saw man as a heroic being. And he built a temple to that. A temple is a place where man is to experience exaltation. He thought that exaltation comes from the consciousness of being guiltless, of seeing the truth and achieving it, of living up to one’s highest possibility, of knowing no shame and having no cause for shame, of being able to stand naked in full sunlight. He thought that exaltation means joy and that joy is man’s birthright. He thought that a place built as a setting for man is a sacred place. That is what Howard Roark thought of man and of exaltation. But Ellsworth Toohey said that this temple was a monument to a profound hatred of humanity. Ellsworth Toohey said that the essence of exaltation was to be scared out of your wits, to fall down and to grovel. Ellsworth Toohey said that man’s highest act was to realize his own worthlessness and to beg forgiveness. Ellsworth Toohey said it was depraved not to take for granted that man is something which needs to be forgiven. . . . To glorify man, said Ellsworth Toohey, was to glorify the gross pleasure of the flesh, for the realm of the spirit is beyond the grasp of man. To enter that realm, said Ellsworth Toohey, man must come as a beggar, on his knees. Ellsworth Toohey is a lover of mankind.” – Dominique Francon.
The woman for a man like Roark, Dominique Francon is an idealist who loves Roark for his impassioned work, and hates him because the general public will never see beauty in it.She pronounces him guilty of the crime of building structures fit for no man.While it is generally taken for an agreement with public sentiment, she believes that they are not a worthy audience and that his structures must be saved from the world, not the other way around.
“Throughout the centuries there were men who took first steps, down new roads, armed with nothing but their own vision.” ( Part of Roark’s stunning defence at his last trial. I wish I could put all of it here but 1) It’s the best part of the story, and something you should read for yourself and 2) We have too few readers as-is, ’nuff said.)
Genre : It’s a book on a man and his work and the formidable combination they make.Roark’s buildings are described as seeming to grow out of the very earth- so natural and true as they are.It might seem strange that one man’s ego give birth to that , but Roark’s personality accounts for everything.There is also a contrasting character in Peter Keating- the architect seemingly at the head of it all, with recognition in toxic quantities.Mr.Wynand, the man who could have been , for the part that he is ( is this all sounding too much like something from a legal document what with all the repetition?) is another absolutely brilliant character.
Bottom line? Must.Read.Book.NOW.