Ayn Rand delivers manuscript of "The Fountainhead" to her publisher
Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead (delivered to her publisher on December 31, 1942), was the first of Rand's novels to win a wide following for the philosophy she called Objectivism. She explained that:
"My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute."
The Fountainhead illustrated this philosophy for the public through the tale of an architect who sticks to his artistic convictions against massive social opposition. Although it failed to win over critics, it eventually became a best-seller and was made into a movie starring Gary Cooper in 1949. Together with Atlas Shrugged (1957), The Fountainhead has become one of the central texts of an Objectivist movement that emphasizes capitalism, individualism, and the pursuit of individual ambition.
Although her idea that altruism is bad and selfishness good would seem to contradict traditional Jewish values, Rand's promotion of individual ambition was typical of Russian Jewish immigrants of her generation. Rand herself came from Russia to the United States at age 21, drawn by the conditions depicted in American movies and eager to leave Stalinist Russia. Jobs as a screenwriter and script reader in Hollywood supported her writing and also introduced her to husband her Frank O'Connor.
Literary critics and philosophers have never taken Rand seriously, but her works have garnered popular acclaim and devoted followers. Her four novels have together sold over 25 million copies, and Objectivist discussion groups and Internet sites abound. Ayn Rand died in 1982.
Sources: www.aynrand.org/site/PageServer?pagename=about_ayn_rand_aynrand_timeline; Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, pp. 1124-1126; www.objectivistcenter.org.
How to cite this page
Jewish Women's Archive. "Ayn Rand delivers manuscript of "The Fountainhead" to her publisher." (Viewed on May 14, 2021) <https://jwa.org/thisweek/dec/31/1942/ayn-rand>.