I am a huge Ayn Rand fan. I haven't had the patience to dig up her Objectivism theory, but whatever small I understand of it, I like it. But more than these, I love her books.
Oh yes, I haven't read all of them, just Atlas Shrugged, Fountainhead , both of which I read a decade ago, and very recently We, The Living, but more about this one later.
I was barely 18 when I first read Atlas Shrugged. Picked it off my uncle's bookshelf and started reading it. At that age, I totally loved the guts Rearden had, and hated Lilian. I loved Dagny's resilience and hated James's weak attitude. I adored Francisco, and loved the two professors. I imagined that Galt's Gulch is for true, and dreamt of going there some day. I loved the sentence, 'Who is John Galt?'. It looked like a answer to many questions that teenage brain of mine had. And above all, I worshipped John Galt.
Someone so intelligent, so persistent, and so determined - I thought I should have those qualities when I grow up.
Someone whom everyone trusted, whom people respected, and loved - I put John Galt on the pedestal.
Now almost a decade after reading that book, my feelings have not changed. Yes, they have matured a bit, but that was because I have grown up.
John Galt is still on the pedestal, but Dagny Taggart reached that place with her strength & never-say-die attitude. Francisco still stays there, but now I understand him better. Hank will always be where he is, but what now I know why he is not willing to share his success. And yes, I still loathe people like James & Lilian.
I still dream of going to my own Galt's Gulch with like-minded people someday.
But the most important thing this book has done to me in all these years is to give me a model. In the form of different characters, Ayn has clearly written down the streaks each person should have in his character, and like they say character is destiny!
Now coming to the other book, Fountainhead - after having read the earlier one, I was so besotted with Ayn Rand that I had to read this. At almost 21, I read this book for the first time.
That instant, I fell in love with Roark also. He appealed to me then, and the young me did not understand Dominique better. And I hated & sympathized with Keating at the same time. I almost ignored Gail Wynand.
But now after so many years, the practical me does not let me feel the same way about this book anymore. Yes, its a classic, but I still fail to understand why Dominique had to go to Keating, and then to Wynand and then ditch him at the hour he needed her the most and then go to Roark finally. No, don't get me wrong here, I am not preaching that she should've stuck to one man, I just fail to understand the motive behind giving your own self so much torture and glorify it. I do not see logic in the love she had for Roark.
However, Roark - his slender yet agile body, orange hair, long fingers, his calmness yet determination, his art still are etched the same way in my mind's picture.
But now, Gail Wynand is almost my favourite.
I love this guy who had the guts to accept the mistakes he did and goes to great heights to bring himself peace. If someone works on something from which they don't expect any material benefits but just mental piece, then their strength to do that is what is commendable.
I love the way he would handle his relationships and his love for Dominique.
I loved the guy's silence when he accepted Dominique's & Roark's relationship.
I pitied the helplessness which made him ask 'Is this the first time after our marriage?"
I got inspired by the way he stood for a friend and sailed him through thick & thin.
I love the way this guy handled his enemies..
In short, he is my new hero.
This is what I love about these two books. I love the way Ayn Rand does Hero worship, yet makes the woman protagonist equally strong. The love the main protagonists share in these books is unique. They don't crave to be together, they don't even share a complete dialogue, they just love each other. Yes, it seems impossible for anyone to share a love like that in real world, but she makes sure that this kind of love at least lives great in the dreams.
And this proves to me that a book which will not change the way you feel towards it even after a 100th read is a classic, or rather your favourite book!
PS : Except for some edits, I wrote this post exactly 3 years ago. I have read many more books after writing this post, and have found some classics too. In fact, in contrast to what I always thought about We, The Living, I quite liked it when I read. I loved Kira’s character – her love, her friendships, her determination, her hatred. Everything.
But Atlas Shrugged still has THAT place in my heart. It is the first book that told me what a hero should be like, something I read when I was forming my own ideals, my own role-models and my own landmarks. And Atlas Shrugged, Dagny, Hank and John Galt have a huge influence in the way I think, I act and I believe. Something a classic should do!