10,000 Tampa Avenue
November 30, 1945
Dear Mr. Curtiss:
It was very charming and thoughtful of you to let me know your impression of “The Fountainhead”, and I appreciate it very much.
I am glad that Mrs. Curtiss and you liked my book—and that you chose as the high spots the two passages which I consider most important: Toohey’s speech and Roark’s speech. These are, of course, the heart and essence of the whole novel.
No, I don’t believe that an individualist must be a “queer sort of person”—but then, you see, I don’t think that Roark is “queer.” He is merely a perfect human being.
You say that “a person could have the same basic philosophy as Howard and still be a very normal individual—someone like Leonard Read, for example.” Well, well, well, what makes you think that Leonard Read is a “normal individual”? I think he’s much more than that. As you must have guessed, I am not very enthusiastic about such conceptions as “normal” or “average.” If there is such a thing as an average man, who cares about him or why should anyone care? What I am interested in is the great and the exceptional.
But if you wonder how I look at Roark in relation to men as we see them around us—I’ll say that any man who has an innate sense of independence and self-respect, and a spark of the creative mind, has that much of Roark in him. Any man can follow Roark’s principles—if he has intelligence, integrity and courage. He may not have Roark’s genius, but he can function in the same manner and live by the same morality—within the limits of his own ability. He must live by the same morality—the morality of individualism—if he wants to survive at all. The opposite principle—collectivism—has now brought its ultimate results, in practical demonstration. Look at the world around us. Men must turn to individualism or perish. The choice is pretty eloquently obvious at the present moment.
Thank you for the nice things you said about my book and for a very interesting letter,