facebook pixel
New Ideal - Reason | Individualism | Capitalism

Three Inspirations for the Ideal Man: Cyrus Paltons, Enjolras, and Cyrano de Bergerac

Learn about fictional heroes who inspired Rand as she created Howard Roark.

Share this article:
This is read by a computer-generated voice.
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

“The motive and purpose of my writing is the projection of an ideal man.”1 With Howard Roark of The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand achieved that goal, for the first time. Roark marked a milestone in her pursuit of an ambition that had begun nearly thirty years earlier. When she was nine, she had found her first hero in a French magazine; a few months later, she decided to become a writer. My purpose here is to examine the first heroes she discovered — in the light of her memories of her reading, and in relation to the first hero she created through her writing.


Cyrus Paltons, a British captain serving in India, was the hero of an adventure novel published in a French magazine for boys, For several months of 1914, Alisa Rozenbaum (Ayn Rand) devoured the serial installments of La Vallée Mystérieuse [The Mysterious Valley], written by Maurice Champagne (1868–1951) and illustrated by René Giffey (1884–1965). It was later published in book form, with 35 chapters, 19 in Part 1 and 16 in Part 2.2 In recalling her appreciation of the novel, Ayn Rand pointed to her interest in the events (e.g., the kidnapping of British officers by trained tigers, the officers’ crossing of a pool of crocodiles by attaching a rope to a tree trunk, and their climbing a ladder up a cliff), which she preferred to the sort of everyday events that had bored her in other publications intended for children. She liked the color and excitement of the genre: a lively adventure of physical danger in an exotic setting. She liked the ingenuity of the positive characters, one of whom takes advantage of the Indians’ superstition and ignorance of technology to stage a “miracle” by means of flashlights. But far more than she liked the story or the background or the atmosphere, she loved the novel’s hero: “that kind of feeling I have for him, it still exists. . . . There’s nothing I can add in quality to any serious love later on that wasn’t contained in that.”3 Cyrus Paltons is introduced in the novel’s early chapters as one already dead, who in life had been “joyeux et vaillant” [cheerful and valiant] (Part 1, chapter 1).4 Cyrus was “cet homme intrépide, brave jusqu’à la témérité, cet être tout de sang-froid et d’adresse” [that intrepid man, brave to the point of temerity, so skillful and self-possessed] (Part 1, chapter 1).5 His comrades mourn him bitterly and painfully, and have no doubt that he is gone forever. The illustration at the beginning of the second chapter shows him evidently helpless, in the clutches of a tiger; the chapter is entitled “Le Mort de Paltons” [“Paltons’ Death”]. For most of the first half of the novel, the other characters believe him to be lost in a brave yet futile attempt to rescue four brother officers who had been carried off by tigers. Then, in chapter 19 (the final chapter of the first part of the novel), he enters the novel in the flesh. In a striking illustration (the first in which we glimpse his face), we cannot see sharply the features or form of Cyrus — but we see his proud stance, as he holds the bars of a cage that is being wheeled on a cart, and looks out, while four other men, almost indistinguishable, are huddled on the floor of the cage. He is described in the text as being in direct contrast to his companion captives:

Quatre sont étendus sur une sorte de litière de paille et semblent accablés. Le cinquième, grand, large d’épaules, se tient fièrement debout, se retenant des deux mains aux barreaux de sa prison.

[Four were stretched out on a litter of straw, and seemed to be overwhelmed by their captivity. The fifth man, tall and broad-shouldered, stood arrogantly, his two hands clutching the bars of the prison.]6

We thus learn that he, and the men he had attempted to rescue, are alive in a mysterious valley, in the hands of a villainous old rajah, who intends to torture them as part of a generalized hatred of Britain. And once Cyrus joins the course of the novel’s events, he takes over, spiritually and existentially.

He speaks, more eloquently than any of his companions, of his confidence that the villains will not be victorious. Several chapters later, while he is still in captivity, we hear, for the first time, his voice, defying his enemies and their leader, taunting them:

Tu nous tiens, chien! . . . oui, tu nous tiens; mais que sommes-nous en raison du nombre d’Anglais qui restent derrière nous et qui, quoi que tu fasses, sauront te dominer, t’écraser le jour où cela leur plaira? Tu n’es pas un lion, tu es un chacal, et tu te cacherais si nos armées pénétraient dans cette vallée qui n’est pas un royaume, mais un repaire de bandits. Va, va, tu peux torturer nos corps, mais tu ne pourras pas nous abaisser, tu entends, chien! fils de chien!

[You have us, dog! . . . yes, you have us, but what about all the Englishmen who will come after us and who, no matter what you do, will know how to beat you and wipe you out any time they choose? You aren’t a lion, you’re a jackal, and you’ll hide yourself if our armies penetrate into this valley which isn’t a kingdom, but a bandit’s hide-out. Go, begone with you! You may torture our bodies but you cannot abase us, do you hear me, you dog? You son of a dog?] (Part 2, chapter 4)7

In later episodes, Cyrus shows an ability to develop and execute daring plans. The bravest of the brave, he brings out the bravery in his companions. But his virtues go beyond courage, competence, and cleverness. Champagne makes a special point, in two episodes, of showing that Cyrus is not merely capable, but principled.

In the first of these episodes, Cyrus and his companions are following a Hindu guide, who intends to lead them to their death: the guide tells them that the water ahead is safe for them, that there is no danger of crocodiles. But is the guide telling the truth? Théodore Bardin, one of the more intelligent in the group, throws the Hindu into the water, just to make sure. As the crocodiles gather, several of the companions, moved by pity, look for a stick or a pole so that the treacherous guide can be saved. But Cyrus will have none of that.

Pas un pas de plus, amis; . . . cet homme est condamné. Ce misérable va payer sa trahison de sa vie, et c’est juste. Pour étouffer le mouvement de pitié qui fait bondir votre coeur, vous n’avez qu’à vous souvenir que l’un de nous, sans la présence d’esprit de M. Bardin, serait peut-être, à cette minute même, à la place de ce bandit.

[Not another step, my friends; . . . that man is doomed. The wretch is going to pay for his treachery with his life, and justly so. To stifle the pity that’s swelling in your hearts, you have only to remember that if it weren’t for Monsieur Bardin’s presence of mind, perhaps one of us would be in that ruffian’s place even at this very moment.] (Part 2, chapter 7)8

Some of the men still want to save the traitor’s life, but, we are told, “Paltons demeure inébranlable” [Paltons stood firm]. After the traitor is attacked by sixty crocodiles, “se battant, se bousculant, se hissant les uns pardessus les autres, à qui sera le premier à prendre sa part du festin” [jostling, climbing on top of each other, fighting over which would be first to take part in the feast], as “une violente odeur de musc et de pourriture emplit I’air” [a strong odor of musk and decay filled the air], the men finally understand the issue: “Eux aussi, à présent, ont, comme Paltons, la vision nette et effroyable du sort qui les eût attendus” [Now they too, like Paltons, could see clearly and horribly the fate that would have been theirs].9 Whereas the other men require a perceptual demonstration in order to grasp the point, Cyrus understands what the traitor is, what he meant to do, and what should be done to him; he prevails against their desire to extend mercy, he insists on justice, and in the end, they see it his way. He was right to be ruthless, and they ultimately acknowledge that fact.

The other episode involves the rescue of an Englishwoman, Ellen Wood, who has also been kidnapped and who is still in the hands of the beings Cyrus deems to be monsters. When he recognizes that there is an innocent victim to be rescued, his course is clear.

Il ne lui vient pas une seconde à l’esprit qu’il est à l’air, libre, presque sauvé, et qu’en repénétrant dans ce temple redoutable il va peut-être se rejeter bénévolement dans les griffes de ses bourreaux. Il ne se dit pas que la chance inouïe qui les servit juqu’alors ne sera pas toujours pour lui; non, dans son cerveau, une seule idée s’est installée en maîtresse souveraine.

Il veut découvrir et sauver la prisonnière inconnue, et pas autre chose.

Ce qu’il entreprend lui semble très naturel. . . .

[He didn’t spend even a moment thinking that he was out in the open air, at liberty, almost saved, and that in re-entering this perilous temple he was perhaps throwing himself right back into the hands of his executioners. He didn’t remind himself that the extraordinary luck they had enjoyed so far couldn’t last forever; no, one sole idea dominated his mind.

He wanted to discover and save the unknown prisoner—that, and nothing else.

What he was undertaking seemed quite natural to him. . . .] (Part 2, chapter 10)10

Cyrus, who could have walked away to safety, has returned to rescue the captive woman and has done so without hesitation: “Il n’entre pas dans son caractère de discuter longuement avec ses sentiments” [It wasn’t part of his character to waste time debating what to do].11 His act is not an instance of self-sacrifice — even though the woman is unknown to him and does not represent a personal value. His motivation, as presented by Champagne, is admirable: he is, in effect, defending civilization. Not only is he saving himself and his companions from the savages, but he is telling the enemy, in action, what he told them in words: you will never win. Never. Only over my dead body will you claim a single victim.

The illustration accompanying this passage was singled out by Ayn Rand:

And he was a perfect drawing of my present hero. Tall, long-legged, with . . . trousers and leggings, the way soldiers wear, but no jacket, just an open-collared shirt, torn in front, . . . opened very low, sleeves rolled at the elbows and hair falling down over one eye.12

She also points to the illustration, described above, to Part 1, chapter 19, the image that introduces him as a living character.

The first illustration, he is standing, holding onto the bars of the cage, while everybody else is on the bottom, sitting down or cringing at the bottom of the cage. And while they were all afraid, he was hurling insults at the rajah and he was saying, “You can do what you wish, England will beat you. We’ll get even.” And he was threatened with torture . . . and he was completely defiant about it. He was going to be whipped to pieces. And he was laughing at them and being insulting.13

Remembering the picture more than forty years after she had last seen it, Ayn Rand is not entirely accurate, as far as the publication facts of the story. This illustration is not the first illustration of Cyrus to appear in the text; as noted above, he is initially depicted in the illustration at the beginning of the second chapter. The caged Cyrus is, however, the first image that dramatizes the special qualities of Cyrus. It would have been more effective for this image to be in fact the first illustration of Cyrus, for him to be introduced dramatically, the way Ayn Rand remembered it. Her memory has changed, and improved, the timing of the presentation of the image.

Her memory, similarly, has changed, and improved, the content of the scene itself. In her memory, Cyrus delivers his defiant speech as he stands, holding the bars of the cage, above his companions. But in fact Champagne separates the speech from the cage scene. He does not tell us what, if anything, Cyrus says in the cage. In Ayn Rand’s memory, though, the defiant posture and the defiant speech were integrated, for dramatic effect.

In memory, she made an imaginative inference about Cyrus’s demeanor in his speech. She remembers Cyrus as laughing. He is, indeed, portrayed as mocking his enemies. “Debout en une attitude hardie et combative, il promène autour de lui son regard bleu narquois et provoquant” [As he stood in an impudent, combative attitude, his blue eyes gazed around with a bantering and provocative look] (Part 2, chapter 4).14 Laughter itself, however, is nowhere indicated in the text. As the scene progresses, in fact, Cyrus’s manner is described as angry. He responds to the lowering of the cage bars with “un veritable sursaut de rage” [a veritable fit of rage] and stares, with a “regard devenu féroce” [ferocious gaze] at the vicious rajah who presides over the mysterious valley. For Ayn Rand, though, defiant laughter was appropriate as a response to enemies one does not take seriously or respect, and, in her personal image of Cyrus, he was laughing.

The image of Cyrus, she said, “was everything that I wanted.”15 What we see in examining that image is not only its visual qualities (tall, long-legged, open collar, hair falling over one eye) and not only the qualities of character that she named (strong, resolute, unstoppable), but also the fact that, in working through the image and the narrative in her mind, she made it better, and she made it hers — even before she set out to create her own ideal man.

Ayn Rand said that she was in love with Cyrus “in a metaphysical sense,” and “the intensity was almost something unbearable.” She paid tribute to him, in a private allusion, when she wrote her first novel, giving the heroine the name Kira, the feminine of Cyrus. And when she created her first ideal man, she portrayed his admirable qualities on a grander scale.

She commented on these qualities, comparing him to the heroes of her novels:

[Cyrus] was very much a cross between Rearden and Roark . . . grim, but not repressed. It would be Francisco in his active moment . . . the man of action who is totally self-confident, enormously defiant, and nothing could stand in his way, no matter what the circumstances. And he’d always find a way out. From the moment he entered the story, he was the absolute leader of everything.16

The positive qualities of Cyrus — self-confidence, resourcefulness, leadership, strength, defiance, and invincible resolution — typify not only Cyrus, but also her own heroes. In creating Roark and her other heroes, however, Ayn Rand, in effect, sees Champagne and raises him. She heightens the stakes.

The scope of Cyrus’s heroism is physical action in an emergency; Ayn Rand’s ideal men have heroism in both physical and intellectual action over a lifetime. The entire course of The Fountainhead is the supporting evidence for Roark’s heroic nature. The significance of Roark’s actions and victory — Ayn Rand’s version of Cyrus’s encounters with enemies and other obstacles — is the subject of the other articles in this volume. What Ayn Rand admired in Cyrus — self-confident and defiant, ruthless and resourceful — is what she shows in Roark, in his policies and choices throughout every aspect of his life, from his class assignments at Stanton through his romance with Dominique to his final courtroom speech. As Mike Donnigan tells Steven Mallory, nothing can defeat Roark: “He can’t lose, quarries or no quarries, trials or no trials. They can’t beat him, Steve, they just can’t, not the whole goddamn world” (508). And for Mallory, among others, he serves Cyrus’s function of inspiration (a subject I will address more fully later, in discussing the parallels between Roark and Victor Hugo’s Enjolras).

'Ayn Rand’s ideal men have heroism in both physical and intellectual action over a lifetime.' Click To Tweet

Reading Champagne’s novel after reading Ayn Rand’s novels, the reader is reminded of several resourceful, self-confident, and defiant heroes. She herself mentions Rearden and Francisco. John Galt, for another example, is like Cyrus in being introduced late in the narrative17 — in a mysterious valley, no less, with comrades who have been supposed to have disappeared permanently. Like Cyrus, Galt faces torture.18 Like Cyrus, he turns his back on safety to return to danger to rescue the woman who becomes his mate.

But it is worth remembering that Cyrus was the first hero she read, and Roark was the first ideal hero she wrote. In creating Roark, she gave him the qualities she had treasured in Cyrus: his self-confidence, his leadership, his competence, his imperturbable serenity in the face of obstacles. When she introduces Roark to the reader in the novel’s first paragraph by means of a dramatic action — laughter in defiance of his expulsion and the ideas behind it — she gives him the demeanor she herself had added to her memory of her first image of her first literary hero.


The opening scene of The Fountainhead contains a description that suggests the image of a different literary hero, her love for whom was part of a more wide-reaching literary admiration. Although Ayn Rand loved Cyrus and La Vallée Mystérieuse, she did not, to my knowledge, seek out other works by Champagne.19 Victor Hugo, by contrast, was the novelist Ayn Rand ranked first, and Enjolras of Les Misérables had a special place in her reverence for Hugo’s writing.20

In the opening pages of The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand introduces her hero’s face, with “a contemptuous mouth, shut tight, the mouth of an executioner or a saint” (6). He stands on a rock, on stone that “glowed, wet with sunrays,” as the “wind waved his hair against the sky” (5). Enjolras, a secondary character in Hugo’s Les Misérables, is “ce grave jeune homme, bourreau et prêtre, de lumière comme le crystal, et de roche aussi” [this severe young man, executioner and priest, luminous like the crystal and rock also] (Part 4, book 12, chapter 8).21 He is described as having a “lèvre inférieure . . . facilement dédaigneuse” [underlip, readily disdainful] — as well as “cette chevelure tumultueuse au vent” [that hair flying in the wind] (Part 3, book 4, chapter 1).22 Observe the common features: Roark, like Enjolras, is described as a combination of executioner and religious figure; he is associated with rock and light; his mouth is contemptuous, and his hair blows in the wind.23 Both men, when we first encounter them, are 22.

When Alisa Rozenbaum discovered Victor Hugo in her early teens, she loved his “magnificent” drama and the grandeur of his vision of man and life — but Enjolras, the leader of the young revolutionaries, had been the only character in Les Misérables who “had a personal sense of life meaning” for her. As with Cyrus, her response to whom she had described as a serious, metaphysical love, she responded to Enjolras with passionate intensity: “I fell in love with Enjolras.”24

Enjolras, as a character, is less central to the narrative than is Cyrus to La Vallée Mystérieuse. He appears only in the third and fourth of the five parts of the novel, and — by contrast with Fantine, Cosette, Marius, and Jean Valjean — is not a title character for any of the sections. He is characterized through extensive descriptive passages, through a long speech, and through two sequences of action: his ruthlessness in battle at the barricades and his death. Although he does not occupy a large number of pages, his impact on Ayn Rand outweighed that of any other character in the novel. In tracing the function of Enjolras as an inspiration for Roark, I will consider primarily the descriptive passages and the scene of his death (“my highlight,” according to Ayn Rand), along with the speech he makes to his comrades.25

The extended description that introduces Enjolras features an element Ayn Rand identified as crucial to her admiration: “a man of exclusive, devoted purpose,” “heroically dedicated to a one-track mind purpose.”26 Hugo describes him as follows: “Il n’avait qu’une passion, le droit, qu’une pensée, renverser l’obstacle” [He had one passion only, justice: one thought only, to remove all obstacles] (Part 3, book 4, chapter 1).27 Enjolras is a man for whom will and action are one: “qui avait cette qualité d’un chef, de toujours faire ce qu’il disait” [who had this quality of a leader, always to do as he said] (Part 5, book 1, chapter 2).28 Regarding Roark, perhaps the simplest description of an Enjolras-like dedication is spoken, in envy, by Peter Keating, in a conversation with Ellsworth Toohey.

[Toohey:] “Did he always want to be an architect?”

[Keating:] “He . . .”

“What’s the matter, Peter?”

“Nothing. It just occurred to me how strange it is that I’ve never asked myself that about him before. Here’s what’s strange: you can’t ask that about him. He’s a maniac on the subject of architecture. It seems to mean so damn much to him that he’s lost all human perspective. . . . You don’t ask what he’d do if he didn’t want to be an architect.”

“No. . . . You ask what he’d do if he couldn’t be an architect.”

“He’d walk over corpses. Any and all of them. All of us. But he’d be an architect.” (238)

The purposeful dedication of Enjolras is accompanied by austerity. “Il voyait à peine les roses; il ignorait le printemps, il n’entendait pas chanter les oiseaux; . . . pour lui, . . . les fleurs n’étaient pas bonnes qu’à cacher l’épée. Il était sévère dans ses joies” [He hardly saw a rose, he ignored the spring, he did not hear the birds sing. . . . to him, . . . flowers were good only for hiding the sword. He was severe in his pleasures] (Part 3, book 4, chapter 1).29 Roark too is described at one point as “austere in cruelty, ascetic in passion” (216), and his general demeanor is such that Peter Keating asks him, reproachfully:

Do you always have to have a purpose? Do you always have to be so damn serious? Can’t you ever do things without reason, just like everybody else? You’re so serious, so old. Everything’s important with you, everything’s great, significant in some way, every minute, even when you keep still. Can’t you ever be comfortable—and unimportant? (89)

What troubles Keating, of course, is precisely the quality that inspires Roark’s friends — and the quality that makes Enjolras the leader of the A.B.C. revolutionaries.

The stern austerity of Enjolras is described in terms of marble: “C’était l’amoureux de marbre de la Liberté” [He was the marble lover of liberty] (Part 3, book 4, chapter 1).30 He has the “immobilité de marbre” [marble immobility] (Part 4, book 12, chapter 8).31 Roark, too, is associated with marble — in his strength and purity, and as a material with which he creates. In the first draft of the first chapter, Ayn Rand describes him in terms of marble: “The sun, hitting him through the water, made a dancing marble of his skin, with green veins and white snakes of fire twinkling over his back.”32

The most striking similarity between Enjolras and Roark, however, is that Hugo presents his hero as the specifically intellectual leader of the insurrectionists, the members of the A.B.C. He is “la logique de la révolution” [the logic of the Revolution] (Part 3, book 4, chapter 1).33 Hugo portrays the members of the A.B.C. as relying on Enjolras for their image of the meaning behind their actions, the actions of their best selves. Not only does he give orders about eating, sleeping, fighting, and killing, but he speaks to them about their purpose and exemplifies purposefulness. Progress, he says, is a romantic adventure. Enjolras tells his comrades:

Citoyens, vous représentez-vous l’avenir? Les rues des villes inondées de lumières, des branches vertes sur les seuils. . . . Refléchissez à ce qu’a déjà fait le progrès. Jadis les premières races humaines voyaient avec terreur passer devant leurs yeux l’hydre qui soufflait sur les eaux, le dragon qui vomissait du feu, le griffon qui était le monstre de l’air et qui volait avec les ailes d’un aigle et les griffes d’un tigre; bêtes effrayantes qui étaient au-dessus de l’homme. L’homme cependant a tendu ses pièges sacrés de l’intelligence, et il a fini par y prendre les monstres.

Nous avons dompté l’hydre, et elle s’appelle le steamer; nous avons dompté le dragon, et il s’appelle la locomotive; nous sommes sur le point de dompter le griffon, nous le tenons déjà, et il s’appelle le ballon. Le jour où cette oeuvre prométhéenne sera terminée et où l’homme aura définitivement attelé à sa volonté la triple Chimère antique, l’hydre, le dragon et le griffon, il sera maître de l’eau, du feu et de l’air, et il sera pour le reste de la création animée ce que les anciens dieux étaient jadis pour lui. Courage, et en avant!

[Citizens, do you imagine the future? The streets of the cities flooded with light, green branches on the thresholds. . . . Reflect on what progress has already done. Once the early human races looked with terror on the hydra, which blew on the waters, the dragon, which vomited fire, the griffin, monster of the air, which flew with the wings of an eagle and the claws of a tiger; fearful animals that were above man. Man, however, has laid his snares, the sacred snares of intelligence, and has at last caught the monsters.

We have tamed the hydra, and he is called the steamship; we have tamed the dragon, and he is called the locomotive; we are on the point of taming the griffin, we already have him, and he is called the balloon. The day when this promethean work will be finished, and man will have definitely harnessed to his will the triple chimera of the ancients, the hydra, the dragon, and the griffin, he will be the master of water, fire, and air, and he will be to the rest of living creation what the ancient gods formerly were to him. Courage, and forward!] (Part 5, book 1, chapter 5)34

He tells them that they are the representatives of progress, that they are Promethean, that their ultimate role is to make men themselves into what the gods once were to men.

Citoyens, le dix-neuvième siècle est grand, mais le vingtième siècle sera heureux. . . . Amis, l’heure où nous sommes et où je vous parle est une heure sombre; mais ce sont là les achats terribles de l’avenir. Une révolution est un péage. Oh! Le genre humain sera délivré, relevé et consolé. Nous le lui affirmons sur cette barricade.

[Citizens, the nineteenth century is great, but the twentieth century will be happy. . . . Friends, this hour we are living in, and in which I am speaking to you is a somber one, but such is the terrible price of the future. A revolution is a tollgate. Oh! The human race will be delivered, uplifted, and consoled! We are affirming it on this barricade.] (Part 5, book 1, chapter 5)35

He tells them that their efforts will make possible a glorious future. Enjolras is leading his comrades by explaining the principle and the large-scale context of their action. He is not primarily a tactician, but a moralist. He links action with values. He makes of these men — the diverse nature of whom we see in the chapter in which Hugo introduces the members of the A.B.C. — not a mass or a unit, but individuals unified by purpose. The struggle they share ennobles them. They are not surrendering themselves to the cause; the cause gives a value to them.

Enjolras is their chief. They look up to him as the purest essence of what they aspire to be.

In The Fountainhead, similarly, Roark has a life-giving effect on others, including Steven Mallory, Austen Heller, and, for a year, a small band of draftsmen during the construction of Monadnock Valley. As Steven Mallory sees it, their protection was

the architect who walked among them . . . the man who had made this possible—the thought in the mind of that man—and not the content of that thought, nor the result, not the vision that had made Monadnock Valley, nor the will that had made it real—but the method of that thought, the rule of its function—the method and the rule which were not like those of the world beyond the hills. That stood on guard over the valley and over the crusaders within it. [emphasis added] (508)

Roark, like Enjolras, is the logic of a revolution.

Early in The Fountainhead, the significance of Roark’s ultimate victory is stated by his mentor, Henry Cameron, a brilliantly original and embittered architect, when he looks at a snapshot of the entrance door to Roark’s first office:

It doesn’t say much. Only “Howard Roark, Architect.” But it’s like those mottoes men carved over the entrance of a castle and died for. It’s a challenge in the face of something so vast and so dark, that all the pain on earth—and do you know how much suffering there is on earth?—all the pain comes from that thing you are going to face. I don’t know what it is, I don’t know why it should be unleashed against you. I know only that it will be. And I know that if you carry these words through to the end, it will be a victory, Howard, not just for you, but for something that should win, that moves the world—and never wins acknowledgment. (133)

And like Enjolras, Roark serves as personal inspiration by virtue of what he himself is. As Steven Mallory says to Roark the day he meets him: “Roark, I wish I’d met you before you had a job to give me. . . . So there would be no other reason mixed in. Because, you see, I’m very grateful to you. Not for giving me a job. Not for coming here. Not for anything that you’ll ever do for me. Just for what you are” (329).

John Galt, in Ayn Rand’s next novel, has parallels with Enjolras in this respect. The personal commitment of the strikers to Galt is intimately integrated with their dedication to the cause, as was true for the members of the A.B.C. For example, the description of Francisco d’Anconia’s “greatest achievement” — refraining from retaliation against Hank Rearden’s physical and verbal blows, on the evening Francisco learns about the relationship between Dagny and Rearden — stresses “enraptured dedication,” his strength, his pride, his willingness to endure:

He looked as if he were facing another presence in the room and as if his glance were saying: If this is what you demand of me, then even this is yours, yours to accept and mine to endure, there is no more than this in me to offer you, but let me be proud to know that I can offer so much.36

Galt’s speech, later in Atlas Shrugged, contains an image that is found in the speech of Enjolras. The prospect of meeting one’s death in an environment of spiritual dawn appears also in Galt’s speech: “should you die without reaching full sunlight, you will die on a level touched by its rays.”37 In the words of Enjolras: “Frères, qui meurt ici meurt dans le rayonnement de l’avenir, et nous entrons dans une tombe toute pénétrée d’aurore” [Brothers, whoever dies here dies in the radiance of the future, and we are entering a grave illuminated by the dawn] (Part 5, book 1, chapter 6).38

It would be tempting to see Galt, more than Roark, as the direct heir of the fighter Enjolras — were it not for one striking element of the characterization of Enjolras: his friendship with Grantaire, which very much impressed Ayn Rand, and which has no parallel in Atlas Shrugged. Hugo introduces Grantaire as an unlikely friend for the idealistic Enjolras. “Le scepticisme, cette carie sèche de l’intelligence, ne lui avait pas laissé une idée entière dans l’esprit” [Skepticism, that dry rot of the intellect, had not left one entire idea in his mind] (Part 3, book 4, chapter 1).39 Nonetheless:

Grantaire admirait, aimait et vénérait Enjolras . . . Sans qu’il se rendît clairement compte et sans qu’il songeât à se l’expliquer à lui-même, cette nature chaste, saine, ferme, droite, dure, candide, le charmait. . . . Ses idées molles, fléchissantes, disloquées, malades, difformes, se rattachaient à Enjolras comme à une épine dorsale. Son rachis moral s’appuyait à cette fermeté. Grantaire, près d’Enjolras, redevenait quelqu’un.

[Grantaire admired, loved, and venerated Enjolras. . . . Without understanding it clearly, and without trying to explain it to himself, that chaste, healthy, firm, direct, hard, honest nature charmed him. . . . His soft, wavering, disjointed, diseased, deformed ideas hitched onto Enjolras as to a backbone. His moral spine leaned on that firmness. Beside Enjolras, Grantaire became somebody again.] (Part 3, book 4, chapter l)40

Grantaire’s admiration for Enjolras has parallels with Wynand’s admiration for Roark. Wynand believes that his friendship with Roark enables him to discover, or regain, his best self. When he meets him, he feels “a sense of being carried back intact, as one is now, back to the beginning” (535). Roark becomes the person who means most to him on earth, and in having Roark build the Wynand Building, he feels: “It’s a kind of reward. It’s as if I had been forgiven” (593).

Ayn Rand commented that one scene with Enjolras was “actually the Wynand-Roark in spirit.”41 She was referring, I believe, to his death scene (her personal highlight in the novel, as noted above) and specifically to the fact that Grantaire, after sleeping through most of the action on the barricades, awakens to see Enjolras on the point of being shot — and promptly asks permission to be shot along with him.

He rises from his drunken stupor to see Enjolras facing the firing squad as if “rien que par l’autorité de son regard tranquille, ce jeune homme . . . contraignît cette cohue sinistre à le tuer avec respect” [merely by the authority of his tranquil eye, this young man . . . compelled that sinister mob to kill him respectfully] (Part 5, book 1, chapter 23).42 Grantaire wants to share that authority and that respect. He wants to be literally beside Enjolras, even in the direst extremity. Recognizing that to die with Enjolras would be an honor and a privilege, he asks permission, which Enjolras graciously grants. Smiling, Enjolras extends his hand. The shots ring out.

The “Wynand-Roark in spirit” is the transfusion of values from a great man to one who has not lived up to his own potential for greatness. The love the lesser man feels for the greater one carries with it the hope that it is not too late for the two to join hands and minds.

In The Fountainhead, Roark does not face a literal firing squad, but when he sees what has become of Cortlandt, while he was away on Wynand’s yacht: “He stood straight, the muscles of his throat pulled, his wrists held down and away from his body, as he would have stood before a firing squad” (609). He later arranges to face a metaphorical firing squad. And when he does, Wynand chooses — for a time — to join him. Hugo’s Grantaire and Enjolras die together, as heroes, hands outstretched to each other. Ayn Rand does not let her Enjolras die with Grantaire; she does not let her Enjolras die at all. But her Grantaire, i.e., Wynand, releases the hand he is clasping and dies, spiritually, alone. From what Ayn Rand said, it appears that she had in mind Enjolras and Grantaire as she contemplated the relationship of Roark and Wynand: its beginning, its course, and its end. Although her own hero triumphs instead of dying at the barricades, she has remembered, and transformed, her favorite scene of her childhood literary hero.


Another literary hero — and another whose tragic death Ayn Rand transformed into triumph both spiritual and existential — is the protagonist of Cyrano de Bergerac, which she read when she was thirteen. She “liked it enormously”43 and ultimately judged it to be “the greatest play in world literature.”44 Before she went to college, she had read all of Rostand, in French.45 She owned an early French edition, as well as the classic 1923 translation by Brian Hooker.46 In a radio interview about the play, her remarks made it clear that she knew the play by heart.47 In a column for the Los Angeles Times, she praises the play and condemns a contemporary television performance of it, with particular reference to Cyrano’s “No, thank you” speech in Act 2, Scene 8, which she called “Rostand’s triumphantly proud celebration of integrity.”48 A full analysis of the character and the play is beyond my scope here. I will consider — as inspirations for Roark — primarily the “No, thank you” speech and Cyrano’s final scene.

Cyrano, poet and playwright, has refused an opportunity to have his play produced by a powerful cardinal because the price is too high: the risk of revisions. When he is advised by his friend Le Bret to avoid ruining his every chance by antagonizing people, he replies:

What would you have me do?

Seek for the patronage of some great man,

And like a creeping vine on a tall tree

Crawl upward, where I cannot stand alone?

No thank you! Dedicate, as others do,

Poems to pawnbrokers? Be a buffoon

In the vile hope of teasing out a smile

On some cold face? No thank you! Eat a toad

For breakfast every morning? Make my knees

Callous, and cultivate a supple spine,—

Wear out my belly grovelling in the dust?

No thank you! Scratch the back of any swine

That roots up gold for me? Tickle the horns

Of Mammon with my left hand, while my right

Too proud to know his partner’s business,

Takes in the fee? No thank you! Use the fire

God gave me to burn incense all day long

Under the nose of wood and stone? No thank you!

Shall I go leaping into ladies’ laps

And licking fingers?—or—to change the form—

Navigating with madrigals for oars,

My sails full of the sighs of dowagers?

No thank you! Publish verses at my own

Expense? No thank you! Be the patron saint

Of a small group of literary souls

Who dine together every Tuesday? No

I thank you! Shall I labor night and day

To build a reputation on one song,

And never write another? Shall I find

True genius only among Geniuses,

Palpitate over little paragraphs,

And struggle to insinuate my name

In the columns of the Mercury?

No thank you! Calculate, scheme, be afraid,

Love more to make a visit than a poem,

Seek introductions, favors, influences?—

No thank you! No, I thank you! And again I thank you!—But . . .

To sing, to laugh, to dream,

To walk in my own way and be alone,

Free, with an eye to see things as they are,

A voice that means manhood—to cock my hat

Where I choose—At a word, a Yes, a No,

To fight—or write. To travel any road

Under the sun, under the stars, nor doubt

If fame or fortune lie beyond the bourne—

Never to make a line I have not heard

In my own heart; yet, with all modesty

To say: “My soul, be satisfied with flowers,

With fruit, with weeds even; but gather them

In the one garden you may call your own.”

So, when I win some triumph, by some chance,

Render no share to Caesar—in a word,

I am too proud to be a parasite.

And if my nature wants the germ that grows

Towering to heaven like the mountain pine,

Or like the oak, sheltering multitudes—

I stand, not high it may be—but alone!49

As Leonard Peikoff pointed out in his lecture on Cyrano de Bergerac in his course on Eight Great Plays, Cyrano defends his artistic integrity here in a speech that could have been written by Ayn Rand.50 Cyrano, “too proud to be a parasite,” repudiates the spurious “success” that comes at the price of compromise. In The Fountainhead, Roark hears, in various forms, the equivalent of Le Bret’s advice. Peter Keating, for example, assumes that Roark will join the A.G.A. and is shocked to learn that Roark has no such intention:

“What do you mean, you’re not joining? You’re eligible now.”


“You’ll be invited to join.”

“Tell them not to bother.”


“You know, Peter, we had a conversation just like this seven years ago, when you tried to talk me into joining your fraternity at Stanton. Don’t start it again.”

“You won’t join the A.G.A. when you have a chance to?”

“I won’t join anything, Peter, at any time.”

“But don’t you realize how it helps?”

“In what?”

“In being an architect.”

“I don’t like to be helped in being an architect.”

“You’re just making things harder for yourself.”

“I am.”

“And it will be plenty hard, you know.”

“I know.”

“You’ll make enemies of them if you refuse such an invitation.”

“I’ll make enemies of them anyway.” (131)

Keating returns to the theme repeatedly:

Why don’t you come down to earth? Why don’t you start working like everybody else? . . . Just drop that fool delusion that you’re better than everybody else—and go to work. In a year, you’ll have an office that’ll make you blush to think of this dump. You’ll have people running after you, you’ll have clients, you’ll have friends, you’ll have an army of draftsmen to order around! . . . You’ll be rich, you’ll be famous, you’ll be respected, you’ll be praised, you’ll be admired—you’ll be one of us! (191–92)

Austen Heller, who is free of Keating’s second-handedness, envy, and corruption, nonetheless tells Roark that he “must learn how to handle people” (159) and must seek commissions. When Heller asks him to “stand a few hours of boredom for the sake of future possibilities,” Roark replies, “Only I don’t believe that this sort of thing ever leads to any possibilities” (253).

The essence of Roark’s answer to the advice of Le Bret is the equivalent of Cyrano’s “Non merci.”

Cyrano’s swaggering, flamboyant style, to be sure, is not Roark’s. To the Dean, for example, Roark speaks firmly yet quietly: “I’ve chosen the work I want to do. If I find no joy in it, then I’m only condemning myself to sixty years of torture. And I can find that joy only if I do my work in the best way possible to me. But the best is a matter of standards — and I set my own standards” (24). But Cyrano’s famous speech, with all of its implications, adds to the qualities of Cyrus and Enjolras the crucial element of the hero of The Fountainhead, an element that is implicit but not stressed in Cyrus and Enjolras: the specific virtue of integrity.51

Integrity, as Ayn Rand noted, is the play’s theme, and its events dramatize it powerfully:

The play is about the issue of human integrity, and it presents the figure of a man of perfect integrity who preserves that integrity to the end in spite of the most dreadful challenges to his spirit. . . . If the hero never had any difficulties, or obstacles, in real life he would still be a man of integrity; obstacles are not what create integrity. . . . But on the stage in the form of a play, you could not possibly present a man of integrity if there were no temptations, if there were no tests, if there were no events which tested his integrity. Therefore, in order to isolate the abstraction which represents the theme, Rostand as a dramatist necessarily had to present his hero in the worst situation possible, he had to present every kind of defeat, existentially, in order to show that his hero preserves his integrity in spite of the worst combination of circumstances that Rostand could invent for him.52

Cyrano’s dying speech sums up “the worst circumstances possible”:

Pendant que je restais en bas, dans l’ombre noire, | D’autres montaient cueillir le baiser de la gloire! . . . | Oui, vous m’arrachez tout, le laurier et la rose! | Arrachez! Il y a malgré vous quelque chose | Que j’emporte, et ce soir, quand j’entrerai chez Dieu, | Mon salut balaiera largement le seuil bleu, | Quelque chose que sans un pli, sans une tache, | J’emporte malgré vous, et c’est . . . . Mon panache.

[While I stood in the darkness underneath, | Others climbed up to win the applause—the kiss! . . . | Yes, all my laurels you have riven away | And all my roses; yet in spite of you, | There is one crown I bear away with me, | And tonight, when I enter before God, | My salute shall sweep all the stars away | From the blue threshold! One thing without stain, | Unspotted from the world, in spite of doom | Mine own!—And that is . . . My white plume.] (Act 5, Scene 6)53

Ayn Rand views this speech as the epitome of the hero:

Cyrano . . . declares that in spite of the fact that his enemies in life robbed him of all rewards, both professionally and personally—as he states, they robbed him of fame and they robbed him of love—but there is something which he dies carrying to heaven untouched, unsullied . . . “mon panache,” which means: “plume of honor belonging to knights.” What is it a symbol of? Integrity. What Cyrano is saying: In spite of the worst that life could do to me, I have preserved—untouched, unbreached—my integrity, and he dies with his full pride and self-esteem. That is the theme of Cyrano. Therefore, for a dramatization of human integrity, I would challenge anyone to imagine, let alone to execute, that theme better.54

I can say what she did not: that she herself did not fall short of that challenge. While it is true that presenting integrity in art requires challenges to that integrity, Cyrano’s final existential defeat is not a requirement. In The Fountainhead, Roark suffers the worst life can do to him.55 He is — for a time — robbed of rewards, fame, and love. The woman he loves is not in his possession; she is married to his enemies. Roark’s designs are signed by Keating, who takes the credit (as Cyrano’s letters to Roxane were signed by Christian, and as Cyrano’s scenes were stolen by Molière). But The Fountainhead does not conclude at the end of Part 2 — with the destruction of the Stoddard Temple, Keating’s second-hand victory in the Cosmo-Slotnick competition, and Keating’s marriage to Dominique. The Fountainhead, by contrast, allows Roark eventual victory on all levels. Roark is willing, as was Cyrano, to dispense with existential rewards. He tells Keating:

You’ll get everything society can give a man. You’ll keep all the money. You’ll take any fame or honor anyone might want to grant. You’ll accept such gratitude as the tenants might feel. And I—I’ll take what no one can give a man except himself. I will have built Cortlandt. (581)

The novel concludes with Roark’s receiving in full measure what he had been robbed of — rewards, fame, and love — without ever sacrificing his irreplaceable “panache.”

The Cyrano-like element (ghostwritten letters to another man’s sweetheart) is a likely source of Ayn Rand’s interest in Chris Massie’s Pity My Simplicity (filmed as Love Letters).56 Of several possible projects, she chose this story as the basis for the first screenplay she wrote for Hal Wallis.57

And — as was the case with Cyrus and Enjolras — Cyrano has a parallel not only with Roark, but with Galt. Apart from the general Cyrano-like virtues of integrity and independence, Galt is in a situation that recalls — and revises — the Cyrano-Roxane-Christian love triangle. In the valley, Galt has the chance to step aside and to relinquish the woman he loves to his friend Francisco. When he does not do so, Dagny sees, “with the sudden, immediate vividness of sensory perception, an exact picture of what the code of self-sacrifice would have meant, if enacted by the three of them”: the “waste of the unreached and unfulfilled” for Galt, “self-deceit” and “hopeless longing” for her, and, for Francisco, “his life a fraud staged by the two who were dearest to him and most trusted, . . . struggling down the brittle scaffold of a lie over the abyss of the discovery that he was not the man she loved.”58 The circumstances, to be sure, are not identical — but the key point, which emerges in spite of the differences of detail, is that Galt’s choice here, while the opposite of Cyrano’s renunciation, is the epitome of nobility by the standards of his moral code (as was Cyrano’s by the standards of his code). Dagny “knew, only after it was over, what had hung for her on his decision; she knew that had his answer been different, it would have destroyed the valley in her eyes” (734). But Ayn Rand does not destroy valleys — or heroes.

To point to three French literary heroes as literary influences on Ayn Rand is not to accuse her of the artistic second-handedness that The Fountainhead condemns. Ayn Rand acknowledged happily and gratefully the joy and inspiration she received from a few other writers; at the same time, she knew — from a first-person perspective — how she wrote her books and she knew that imitation was not her method.59 It is nonetheless true that Cyrus, Enjolras, and Cyrano, all of whom Ayn Rand came to know in her youth, were inspirations for Roark, far more so than Frank Lloyd Wright, who was the model for the architectural career but not for the character.60

Roark was, to be sure, also inspired by Ayn Rand’s husband, who was, she said, the inspiration for all her heroes. The dedication page of the manuscript, dated June 10, 1940, reads: “To Frank O’Connor who is less guilty of second-handedness than anyone I have ever met.”61 The wording reflects the fact that, at that point, the title of the novel was to be “Second-Hand Lives.” In the final text, the dedication reads simply, “To Frank O’Connor.”

A fundamental inspiration for her own ideal man, finally, was none other than herself. “My research material for the psychology of Roark,” she said, “was myself, and how I feel about my profession.”62 She too was one-track, as was Roark. She had in common with Roark the experience of having her work rejected, as was his work, for reasons other than lack of quality, while mediocre art was acclaimed. And she had her own Stoddard Temple, at the same age (30) at which Roark had his, when her play Penthouse Legend, renamed Night of January 16th, was altered against her wishes.63

She had in common with Roark the experience of arduous labor that was also ecstasy. In December 1941, she signed a contract to deliver the novel — two-thirds of which remained to be written — within a year. Of that year, she wrote: “I spent the last and final year writing steadily, literally day and night; once I wrote for thirty hours at a stretch, without sleep, stopping only to get some food. It was the most enjoyable year of my life.”64

On the last page of The Fountainhead, on the manuscript she submitted on December 31, 1942, stands Roark, triumphant: Ayn Rand’s first ideal man — with Cyrus’s defiant courage and resourcefulness, with Enjolras’s austere dedication to a cause, with Cyrano’s proud integrity, and also something greater: the epitome and incarnation of first-handedness. Man at his best, presented for our contemplation by the first-handed genius of his creator.

Reprinted from the English Language edition of Essays on Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead,” edited by Robert Mayhew and originally published by Lexington Books, an imprint of The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc., Lanham, MD, USA. Copyright © by the author. Published in the English language by arrangement with Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, reprinting, or on any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group.

Image credit: John Springer Collection/Corbis Historical via Getty Images.

Do you have a comment or question?


  1. Ayn Rand, The Romantic Manifesto: A Philosophy of Literature, revised edition (New York: Signet, 1975), 162.
  2. The French firm of Delagrave first serialized the novel in two magazines: St. Nicolas: journal illustré pour garçons et filles, starting in April 1914, and its lower-priced magazine, L’Écoliei illustré, one month later. Delagrave then published the entire story in book form (Paris, 1915). A photocopy of the French text was provided by Bill Bucko, who also translated it as The Mysterious Valley (Lafayette, Colorado: Atlantean Press, 1994), with an introduction by Harry Binswanger and the original illustrations by René Giffey. Quotations from the novel will appear first in French, the language in which Ayn Rand read it, and then in Bill Bucko’s translation. References in the text will identify the part and chapter of the novel; references in the notes will identify the relevant page numbers, first in French and then in English. I am grateful to Bill Bucko for discovering the magazines that originally published La Vallée Mystérieuse and for donating them to the Ayn Rand Archives. Thanks also to Arthur Evans, Maria Le Guen, Anita Haney, and especially John J. Pierce for helping me look for them.
  3. Biographical interviews (Ayn Rand Archives).
  4. Champagne, 4; Bucko, 4.
  5. Champagne, 6; Bucko, 5.
  6. Champagne, 129; Bucko, 119.
  7. Champagne, 150; Bucko, 141.
  8. Champagne, 170; Bucko, 160–61.
  9. Champagne, 170; Bucko, 161.
  10. Champagne, 192; Bucko, 181–82.
  11. Champagne, 192; Bucko, 182.
  12. Biographical interviews (Ayn Rand Archives).
  13. Biographical interviews (Ayn Rand Archives).
  14. Champagne, 149; Bucko, 140.
  15. Biographical interviews (Ayn Rand Archives).
  16. Biographical interviews (Ayn Rand Archives).
  17. This fact was noted by Bill Bucko in his “Heroes, Tigers and Cobras: Adventures in Translating The Mysterious Valley,” Atlantean Press Review, vol. 2, no. 4 (summer 1995), 5. He notes additional parallels. The full article is 3–24.
  18. Ayn Rand comments: “I think my concern with torture is somewhat from that story” (Biographical interviews, Ayn Rand Archives). Harry Binswanger, in his introduction to the English translation of the novel (Bucko, xii-xiii), refers in this context to the lashing of the hero of Anthem and the torture of Galt in Atlas Shrugged.
  19. It is possible that she read additional works by Champagne in one of the French magazines of which her mother had ordered subscriptions. For more information about Champagne, including an extensive list of his publications, see Jean-Marc Lofficier and Randy Lofficier, French Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror and Pulp Fiction (Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2000), 346, 367, 529–30. Jacques Sadoul discusses Champagne, as a writer in the tradition of Jules Verne, in Histoire de la Science-Fiction Moderne (1911–1984), revised and completed edition (Paris: Robert Laffon, 1984), 394–95.
  20. See Shoshana Milgram, “We the Living and Victor Hugo: Ayn Rand’s First Novel and the Novelist She Ranked First,” in Robert Mayhew, ed., Essays on Ayn Rand’sWe the Living” (Lanham, MD; Lexington Books, 2004), 223–56.
  21. Les Misérables, ed. Marius-François Guyard, 2 vols. (Paris: Gamier, 1966), II, 348; Les Misérables, translated by Lee Fahnestock and Norman MacAfee, based on the translation by C. E. Wilbour (New York: Signet, 1987), 1116. Quotations from the novel will appear first in French, the language in which Ayn Rand read it, and then in English. References in the text will identify the part and chapter of the novel; references in the notes will identify the relevant page numbers, first in French and then in English.
  22. Guyard I, 773–74; Fahnestock, MacAfee, Wilbour, 648–49.
  23. The manuscript of The Fountainhead suggests additional similarities. The lower lip of Enjolras is specifically described not only as disdainful, but as thick: “la lèvre inférieure épaisse” [thick underlip] (Part 3, book 4, chapter 1); Guyard l, 773; Fahnestock, MacAfee, Wilbour, 648. The holograph draft of The Fountainhead contains that detail as well. Roark’s lower lip is, like that of Enjolras, thicker than his upper lip (The Fountainhead, first draft, Part 1, 8). The word “executioner,” as applied to Roark, occurs not only in the introductory description, but also, in the first draft, to describe Roark’s face at the time of the first sexual encounter between Roark and Dominique (The Fountainhead, first draft, Part 2, 65).
  24. Biographical interviews (Ayn Rand Archives).
  25. In Milgram, “We the Living and Victor Hugo,” I discuss his impact on the characterizations of Leo, Kira, and Andrei; his ruthless actions at the barricades are part of that discussion.
  26. Biographical interviews (Ayn Rand Archives).
  27. Cuyard I, 773; Fahnestock, MacAfee, Wilbour, 648.
  28. Cuyard II, 417; Fahnestock, MacAfee, Wilbour, 1178.
  29. Cuyard I, 773; Fahnestock, MacAfee, Wilbour, 648.
  30. Cuyard I, 773; Fahnestock, MacAfee, Wilbour, 649.
  31. Guyard II, 347; Fahnestock, MacAfee, Wilbour, 1116.
  32. The Fountainhead (Second Hand Lives], first draft, Part 1, 11. The drafts of The Fountainhead are located at the Library of Congress, where I consulted them.
  33. Guyard I, 774; Fahnestock, MacAfee, Wilbour, 649.
  34. Guyard II, 430; Fahnestock, MacAfee, Wilbour, 1189.
  35. Guyard II, 432; Fahnestock, MacAfee, Wilbour, 1191.
  36. Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged (New York: Random House, 1957; Signet thirty-fifth anniversary paperback edition, 1992), 591–92.
  37. Rand, Atlas Shrugged, 983.
  38. Guyard II, 433; Fahnestock, MacAfee, Wilbour, 1191.
  39. Guyard I, 784; Fahnestock, MacAfree, Wilbour, 657.
  40. Guyard I, 784; Fahnestock, MacAfee, Wilbour, 658.
  41. Biographical interviews (Ayn Rand Archives).
  42. Guyard II, 499; Fahnestock, MacAfee, Wilbour, 1250–51.
  43. Biographical interviews (Ayn Rand Archives).
  44. Question period of Objective Communication, lecture course by Leonard Peikoff, 1980, quoted in Ayn Rand Answers, Robert Mayhew, ed. (New York: New American Library, 2005), 196.
  45. Biographical interviews (Ayn Rand Archives).
  46. List of books in Ayn Rand’s library (Ayn Rand Archives).
  47. “Ayn Rand on Campus,” WKCR radio series at Columbia University, second series, program 3 (October 16, 1962).
  48. “Vandalism,” Los Angeles Times, 16 December 1962 (review of 6 December 1962 NBC television production of Cyrano de Bergerac], reprinted in Peter Schwartz, ed., The Ayn Rand Column, revised second edition (New Milford, CT: Second Renaissance, 1998), 76. Review is 75–77.
  49. Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, translated by Brian Hooker (New York: Holt, 1923; rpt. New York: Bantam, 1950), 75–76. The French original, which I am including here (rather than in the text) for reasons of space, is as follows:

    . . . Et que faudrail-il faire? | Chercher un protecteur puissant, prendre un patron, | Et comme un lierre obscur qui circonvient un tronc | Et s’en fait un tuteur en lui léchant l’écorce, | Grimper par ruse au lieu de s’élever par force? | Non, merci. Dédier, comme tous ils le font, | Des vers aux financiers? se changer en bouffon | Dans l’espoir vil de voir, aux lèvres d’un ministre, | Naître un sourire, enfin, qui ne soit pas sinistre? | Non, merci. Déjeuner, chaque jour, d’un crapaud? | Avoir un ventre usé par la marche? une peau | Qui plus vite, à l’endroit des genoux, devient sale? | Exécuter des tours de souplesse dorsale? . . . | Non, merci. D’une main flatter la chèvre au cou | Cependant que, de l’autre, on arrose le chou, | Et, donneur de séné par désir de rhubarbe, | Avoir son encensoir, toujours, dans quelque barbe? | Non, merci! Se pousser de giron en giron, | Devenir un petit grand homme dans un rond, | Et naviguer, avec des madrigaux pour rames, | Et dans ses voiles de soupirs de vieilles dames? | Non, merci! Chez le bon éditeur de Sercy | Faire éditer ses vers en payant? Non, merci! | S’aller faire nommer pape par les conciles | Que dans des cabarets tiennent des imbéciles? | Non, merci! Travailler à se construire un nom | Sur un sonnet, au lieu d’en faire d’autres? Non, | Merci! Ne découvrir du talent qu’aux mazettes? | Etre terrorisé par de vagues gazettes, | Et se dire sans cesse: “Oh! pourvu que je sois | Dans les petits papiers du Mercure françois?” . . . | Non, merci! Calculer, avoir peur, être blême, | Aimer mieux faire une visite qu’un poème, | Rédiger des placets, se faire présenter? | Non, merci! non, merci! non, merci! Mais . . . chanter | Rêver, rire, passer, être seul, être libre, | Avoir l’oeil qui regarde bien, la voix qui vibre, | Mettre, quand il vous plaît, son feutre de travers, | Pour un oui, pour un non, se battre, ou—faire un vers! | Travailler sans souci de gloire ou de fortune, | A tel voyage, auquel on pense, dans la lune! | N’écrire jamais rien qui de soi ne sortît, | Et modeste d’ailleurs, se dire: mon petit, | Sois satisfait des fleurs, des fruits, même des feuilles, | Si c’est dans ton jardin à toi que tu les cueilles! | Puis, s’il advient d’un peu triumpher, par hasard, | Ne pas être obligé d’en rien rendre à César, | Vis-à-vis de soi-même en garder le mérite, | Bref, dédaignant d’être le lierre parasite, | Lors même qu’on n’est pas le chêne ou le tilleul, | Ne pas monter bien haut, peut-être, mais tout seul!

    Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac (Paris: Hachette, 1951), 73–74.

  50. Leonard Peikoff, “Cyrano de Bergerac,” Eight Great Plays (New Milford, CT: Second Renaissance, 1995), Lecture 9.
  51. It is possible that Maurice Champagne, creator of Cyrus, knew Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac; the two writers were contemporaries, born in the same year. Champagne was a rival playwright; the WorldCat database credits him with authorship of Mademoiselle Aurore, Comédie-vaudeville en trois actes (Paris: P. V. Stock, 1905). The name “Cyrus” seems to suggest “Cyrano.”
  52. “Ayn Rand on Campus,” WKCR.
  53. Rostand, 183, 187–88; Hooker, 192, 195–96.
  54. “Ayn Rand on Campus,” WKCR.
  55. For her comments on devising the worst possible obstacles in order to dramatize creative independence in Roark, see Ayn Rand, The Art of Fiction: A Guide for Writers and Readers, ed. Tore Boeckmann (New York: Plume, 2000), 22.
  56. Chris Massie, Pity My Simplicity (London: Faber and Faber, 1944), retitled The Love Letters for American publication (New York: Random, 1944). Love Letters, dir. William Dieterle, perf. Joseph Cotton and Jennifer Jones, Hal Wallis Productions, 1945.
  57. Biographical interviews (Ayn Rand Archives).
  58. Rand, Atlas Shrugged, 735.
  59. See Ayn Rand, Fiction Writing: A Thirteen-Lecture Course (1958), Lecture 8, quoted in Milgram, “We the Living and Victor Hugo,” 252–53.
  60. Among the many sources for her position, see Michael S. Berliner, ed., Letters of Ayn Rand (New York: Dutton, 1995), 468, 492, and Michael S. Berliner, “Howard Roark and Frank Lloyd Wright,” in this volume.
  61. The Fountainhead, first draft, dedication page.
  62. Mayhew, Ayn Rand Answers, 191.
  63. Ayn Rand, “Introduction,” Night of January 16th, definitive edition (New York: Plume, 1987), 6–16.
  64. Berliner, Letters of Ayn Rand, 672.
Share this article:

Shoshana Milgram

Shoshana Milgram, PhD and associate professor of English at Virginia Tech, specializes in narrative fiction and film. Her scholarship includes introductions to Victor Hugo’s novels, a study of Ayn Rand’s life up to 1957, and articles on Dostoevsky, George Eliot, Nabokov, and others.

Welcome to New Ideal!

If you like what you’re reading, be sure to subscribe to our weekly newsletter! You’ll also receive a FREE copy of our book, Illuminating Ayn Rand.