The Fountainhead is a classic American novel. It challenges conventional assumptions about selfishness, success, love, and integrity. Published in 1943, Ayn Rand’s best-selling novel has never been out of print, and every year teachers across the country continue to include it in their courses.
Recently, we hosted an online discussion series which explored the characters, plot, and themes of the novel — and its relevance in today’s world. Over the course of eight episodes, ARI instructors and staff addressed stumbling blocks for readers, highlighted significant passages and developments, and contrasted Rand’s unique perspective on life, work, and morality with conventional perspectives.
These live sessions drew a sizeable audience — including numerous high school students and teachers. They were eager to learn more about the novel and how best to understand its themes. Participants regularly peppered staff with questions about the novel during each session; the final session included an extra hour dedicated entirely to general audience questions.
Designed as a resource for students entering ARI’s The Fountainhead essay contest, the discussion series serves as a valuable tool for anyone interested in exploring the novel more deeply. Ben Bayer, the series’ lead instructor, described the experience as follows:
We started the discussion series when many were just beginning to shelter at home because of the coronavirus pandemic. We knew people would be looking to read new books or reread old favorites. I welcomed the opportunity to lead this discussion because it gave me the chance to explore The Fountainhead in great detail. Because of this, I discovered some new connections and patterns in the work that I had never seen before. If you watch the series, I hope you’ll enjoy making some of these same connections with us.
If you missed the live discussions, you can watch them all, on-demand, on YouTube or listen to the audio on the Ayn Rand Institute Live! podcast. If you find them valuable, please share them with others, and if you want more analysis of The Fountainhead, we recommend Essays on Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead.” We also recommend The Fountainhead course, taught by Keith Lockitch, available on Ayn Rand Campus along with courses dedicated to Rand’s other novels: We The Living, Anthem, and Atlas Shrugged.
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