Rand’s hero-worship is also Nietzschean in inspiration. It is deeply unpleasant. She entirely lacks the literary ability to convey anything admirable, or even minimally attractive, about her heroes, who are the kind of people one would not cross the road to meet, though one might well cross it to avoid them. They partake fully of her humorless monomania and have all the human warmth of a praying mantis. We are told that they are geniuses, but their genius seems mainly to consist of an unswerving adherence to their own ideas.
Howard Roark is the architect-hero of The Fountainhead, but there is abundant evidence in the book that he is not a very good architect: his ideas are totally derivative and, furthermore, derivative of ideas that are themselves not merely worthless, but monstrous. Like his creator, he claims an originality that he does not have. Here he describes how a house may have what he calls “integrity”:Every piece of it is there because the house needs it—and for no other reason. The relation of masses was determined by the distribution of space within. The ornament was determined by the method of construction, an emphasis of the principle that makes it stand.
This is pure, unadulterated Le Corbusier. Indeed, it could have been written by him. (Roark also praises Le Corbusier’s favourite thing in all the world, reinforced concrete.) We all know what Le Corbusier led to; the very idea that a house “needs” things while the desires of human beings can be disregarded is one that would occur only to someone with a reptilian mind.
It is not altogether surprising that Roark lacks taste; Rand herself did, too. She called Bach and Mozart “pre-musical,” preferring Tchaikovsky and even Lehár. She thought that Victor Hugo was the greatest novelist who ever lived. She ridiculed Rembrandt’s “visual distortions.” These judgments show her to have been seriously deficient in sensibility and discrimination across a wide range of important human activities: in fact, I cannot think of any field in which she showed proper aesthetic or intellectual judgment.
Hat tip to Anon in comments.