One of the two books I was waiting has arrived:
The name of the writer was obviously inspired to the main character of a popular computer game released in 2008.
The first cover is the book I actually received. The second is the version I decided to order later (after deeming the book worthy), as I explained that I like to hunt on the internet particular editions of the books. First the UK paperback from Penguin Classics, and next the centennial US edition that is just too classy to not buy. Hoping that Amazon doesn’t mess up and sends me the other ugly cover.
I have a lot of curiosity for the book and the introduction already won me over. Thought provoking and ambitious. Culturally and ideally I can’t be further from the objectivism philosophy, so it’s a kind of challenge.
The introduction is written by Rand herself, 25 years after the book was first published. It starts explaining that most writers write “on the range of the moment”, meaning that most books are meant to vanish shortly after. While her intent was to write through Romanticism to reach some universal concepts and values of human existence that would stay actual.
I do not mean to imply that I knew, when I wrote it, that The Fountainhead would remain in print for twenty-five years. I did not think of any specific time period. I knew only that it was a book that ought to live. It did.
Particularly impressive as I’m holding the book in 2009, so more than 65 years after the book was first published.
The whole introduction, spanning eight pages, is interesting and thought provoking. I’ll quote a few short passages and the whole last page, that is a masterpiece on its own:
I want to see, real, living, and in the hours of my own days, that glory I create as an illusion. I want it real.
There was one evening, during the writing of The Fountainhead, when I felt so profound an indignation at the state of “things as they are” that it seemed as if I would never regain the energy to move one step farther toward “things as they ought be”.
I have been asked whether I have changed in these past twenty-five years. No, I am the same – only more so. Have my ideas changed? No, my fundamental convictions, my view of life and of man, have never changed, from as back as I can remember, but my knowledge of their applications has grown, in scope and in precision.
This view of man has rarely been expressed in human history. Today, it is virtually non-existent. Yet this is the view with which – in various degrees of longing, wistfulness, passion and agonized confusion – the best of mankind’s youth start out in life. It is not even a view, for most of them, but a foggy, groping, undefined sense of raw pain and incommunicable happiness. It is a sense of enormous expectation, the sense that one’s life is important, that great achievements are within one’s capacity, and that great things lie ahead.
It is not in the nature of man – nor of any living entity – to start out by giving up, by spitting in one’s own face and damning existence; that requires a process of corruption whose rapidity differs from man to man. Some give up at the first touch of pressure; some sell out; some run down by imperceptible degrees and lose their fire, never knowing when or how they lost it. Then all of these vanish in the vast swamp of their elders who tell them persistently that maturity consists of abandoning one’s mind; security, of abandoning one’s values; practicality, of losing self-esteem. Yet a few hold on and move on, knowing that that fire is not to be betrayed, learning how to give it shape, purpose and reality. But whatever their future, at the dawn of their lives, men seek a noble vision of man’s nature and of life’s potential.
There are very few guideposts to find. The Fountainhead is one of them.
This is one of the cardinal reasons of The Fountainhead‘s lasting appeal; it is a confirmation of the spirit of youth, proclaiming man’s glory, showing how much is possible.
It does not matter that only a few in each generation will grasp and achieve the full reality of man’s proper stature – and that the rest will betray it. It is those few that move the world and give life its meaning – and it is those few that I have always sought to address. The rest are no concern of mine; it is not me or The Fountainhead that they will betray; it is their own souls.
EDIT: A day later and I received the other book this edition of Atlas Shrugged. Uhm, do not buy this edition. They crammed 51 lines of text on the same page, and some pages don’t even have line spacing. Just solid rectangles of tiny text. 1000+ pages of dense text. In mass market this is just not readable, I’ll have to find the centennial paperback for this too, but it can wait.