Whatever, I liked this.
I think I wouldn’t trust anybody who LOVED this or anybody who HATED this. And that’s because as a novel, it’s more or less just a soap opera. It’s just some screwed up sexual politics to it, but really what book doesn’t. I wouldn’t super trust a novel that really discusses a progressive stance on sexual politics to be all that good since our society is so screwed up on the issue, it would read like fantasy.
But otherwise, I find there to be a lot here, if I read it in the right framework.
Howard Roark is ridiculous, but he’s a man of integrity, whose building sound interesting (and they are, since they’re just Frank Lloyd Wright buildings) and whose personal philosophy is fraught and unrealistic, but is consistent.
I also don’t have a problem with the characterization of Ellsworth Toohey, Peter Keating, and Gail Wynand, because they’re bad people with bad behavior, and they’re interesting because they’re vice-laden. So while I find it reprehensible the way that socialism and its belief structure are portrayed through Toohey, that’s ok by me because he’s not a earnest believer. He’s a lying cheat who manipulates not because he’s socialist, but because he’s a lying cheat who happens to be socialist. I don’t see him as a stand in.
Same with Peter Keating. I don’t find him to be an offensive character because of his beliefs, but he’s offensive because he has no beliefs, and is championed.
And also, maybe I am just being salty, but baseless criticism, refusals to make up one’s own mind on certain issues (especially art), and mindless conformity to past structures is a real problem. I don’t find Howard Roark to be all that admirable in his views, but I appreciate his consistency.
Also, I think that Ayn Rand is a perfectly competent writer. She was never going to write LITERATURE, but she’s intelligent and knows characters pretty well. I also think that her characterization of art as a lifeless conglomeration of the mass’s desires or a thoughtless exploration of form that is ultimately empty as something to be combated.
So sue me.