Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead" is published

May 6, 1943

Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead, published on May 6, 1943, though not her first novel, was the first 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 through the tale of a visionary architect who sticks to his artistic convictions against massive social opposition. The book was not embraced by critics, but it eventually became a best-seller, and was made into a movie starring Gary Cooper in 1949. Together with Rand's 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 contradicts 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 Frank O'Connor.

Literary critics and philosophers have never taken Rand seriously, but her works have garnered popular acclaim. Despite mostly negative reviews, her four novels remain in print and have together sold over 25 million copies, and Objectivist discussion groups and internet sites abound.

Sources:“About Ayn Rand,” Aynrand.com; Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia, pp. 1124-1126.


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The 25th Anniversary edition of Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead.

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Jewish Women's Archive. "Ayn Rand's "The Fountainhead" is published." (Viewed on October 2, 2023) <https://jwa.org/thisweek/may/06/1943/ayn-rand>.


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