Some quotes from The Fountainhead that are insane September 21, 2006Posted by sdpurtill in Books.
UPDATE: I’ve moved my blog over to 31fps.com, so check that for my current updates.
I am on the home stretch of reading The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand. It’s been the most amazing book I’ve ever read in my life. About halfway through the book, I realized how many enlightening quotes the book was filled with, so I tried something new: I put a bunch of post-its inside the cover, and everytime I found a quote I liked, I’d slap a post-it on it. And that’s how I’ve come up with these quotes…
I will try to give the context for each quote, but reading the book is by far the best way to grasp the full meaning.
Gail Wynand, one of the richest man in NYC, talking to Dominique (his wife) about love
“Why have you been staring at me ever since we met? Because I’m not the Gail Wynand you’d heard about. You see, I love you. And love is exception-making. If you were in love you’d want to be broken, trampled, ordered, dominated, because that’s the impossible, in the inconceivable for you in your relations with people. That would be the one gift, the great exception you’d want to offer the man you loved. But it wouldn’t be easy for you.”
Alvah Scarret is one of the heads of Gail Wynand’s huge newspaper, The Banner, and his response to Wynand after Wynand fires one of the paper’s top writers
Scarret protested in panic: “Gail, you can’t fire Sally! Not Sally!”
“When I can’t fire anyone I wish on my paper, I’ll close it and blow up the God-damn building,” said Wynand calmly.
Peter Keating is basically the opposite of the hero, Howard Roark. He speaks of him here.
“I often think that he’s the only one of us who’s achieved immortality. I don’t mean in the sense of fame and I don’t mean that he won’t die some day. But he’s living it. I think he is what the conception really means. You know how people long to be eternal. But they die with every day that passes. When you meet them, they’re not what you met last. In any given hour, they kill some part of themselves. They change, they deny, they contradict–and they call it growth. At the end there’s nothing left, nothing unrevered or unbetrayed; as if there had never been any entity, only a succession of adjectives fading in and out on an unformed mass. How do they expect a permanence which they have never held for a single moment? But Howard–one can imagine him existing forever.”
Dominique talking to Wynand on his yacht
[Dominique] “I used to travel a great deal. I always felt just like that [hating to be at a destination]. I’ve been told it’s because I’m a hater of mankind.”
“You’re not foolish enough to believe that, are you?”
“I don’t know.”
“Surely you’ve seen through that particular stupidity. I mean the one that claims the pig is the symbol of love for humanity–the creature that accepts anything. As a matter of fact, the person who loves everybody and feels at home everywhere is the true hater of mankind. He expects nothing of men, so no form of depravity can outrage him.”
“You mean the person whosays that there’s some good in the worst of us?”
“I mean the person whohas the filthy insolence to claim that he loves equally the man who made that statue of you and the manwho makes a Mickey Mouse balloonto sell on street corners. I mean the person who loves the men who prefer the Mickey Mouse to you statue–and there are many of that kind. I mean the person who loves Joan of Arc and the salesgirls in dress shops on Broadway–with equal fervor. I mean the person who loves your beauty and the women he sees in a subway–the kind that can’t cross their knees and show flesh hanging publicly over their garters–with the same sense of exaltation. I mean the person who loves the clean, steady, unfrightened eyes of man looking through a telescope and the white stare of an imbecile–equally. I mean quite a large, generous, magnanimous company. Is it you who hate mankind, Mrs. Keating?”
Wynand talking to Dominique about love, again
“Or that love is pity.”
“Oh, keep still. It’s bad enough to hear things like that. To hear them from you is revolting–even as a joke.”
“What’s your answer?”
“That love is reverence, and worship, and glory, and the upward glance. Not a bandage for dirty sores. BUt they don’t know it. Those who speak of love most promiscuously are the ones who’ve never felt it. They make some sort of feeble stew out of sympathy, compassion, contempt and general indifference, and they call it love. Once you’ve felt what it means to love as you and I know it–the total passion for the total height–you’re incapable of anything less.”
Peter Keating sitting by the fire realizing he isn’t happy
He thought of how convincingly he could describe this scene to friends and make them envy the fullness of his contentment. Why oculdn’t he convince himself? He had everything he’d ever wanted. He had wanted superiority–and for the last year he had been the undisputed leader of his profession. He had wanted fame–and he had five thick albums of clippings. He had wanted wealth–and he had enough to insure luxury for the rest of his life. He had everything anyone ever wanted. How many people struggled and suffered to achieve what he had achieved? How many dreamed and bled and died for this, without reaching it? “Peter Keating is the luckiest fellow on earth.” How often had he heard that?
And I saved the best for last (if you had the endurance to read this far…). It’s a scene where Dominique is speaking to Howard Roark
“Roark, before I met you, I had always been afraid of seeing someone like you, because I knew that I’d also have to see what I saw on the witness stand and I’d have to do what I did in that courtroom. I hated doing it, because it was an insult to you to defend you–and it was an insult to myself that you had to be defended… Roark, I can accept anything, except what seems to be the easiest for most people: their halway, the almost, the just-about, the in-between. They have their justifications. I don’t know. I don’t care to inquire. I know that it is the one thing not given me to understand. When I think of what you are, I can’t accept any reality except a world of your kind. Or at least a world in which you have a fighting chance and a fight on your own terms. That does not exist. And I can’t live life torn between that which exists–and you. It would mean to struggle against things and men who don’t deserve to be your opponents. Your fight, using their methods–and that’s too horrible a desecration. It would mean doing for you what I dod for Peter Keating: lie, flatter, evade, compromise, pander to every ineptitude–in order to beg of them a chance for you, beg them to let you live, to let you function, to beg them, Roark, not to laugh at them, but to tremble because they hold the power to hurt you. Am I too weak because I can’t do this? I don’t know which is the greater strength: to accept all this for you–or to love you so much that the rest is beyond acceptance. I don’t know. I love you too much.”
Have you read it ? What’s your favorite quote(s) ? And out of all these, which one made you think the most ?