The Fountainhead

RORY: Really? Try it. The Fountainhead is classic.
JESS: Yeah, but Ayn Rand is a political nut.
RORY: Yeah, but nobody could write a forty page monologue the way that she could.

The Fountainhead, 1943 novel by Russian-American author Ayn Rand, and her first literary success. The novel is about a ruggedly individualistic architect named Howard Roark, who battles against conventional standards and refuses to compromise his ideals. Rand said that Roark was the embodiment of her ideal man, and the novel reflects her views that the individual is more valuable than the collective.

Twelve publishers rejected the manuscript before Bobbs-Merrill took a chance on it, and contemporary reviews were mixed. However, it gained a following by word of mouth, and eventually became a bestseller. It has had a lasting influence, especially among architects, business people, conservatives, and libertarians. It was adapted into film in 1949, and turned into a stage play in 2014.

We here learn that Rory attempted to read The Fountainhead when she was ten, without success, but tried again when she was fifteen and liked it. Jess is taken aback by her recommending a text beloved of right-wing libertarians and “political nuts”, but Rory says she enjoys it as a piece of literature. The Fountainhead is absolutely full of characters having lengthy monologues where they clearly explain their philosophies, plans, and ideals.

The character of Howard Roark (allegedly based on architect Frank Lloyd-Wright) is a brooding man of few words, rather like Jess. Could Rory be recommending the book to Jess for that reason, to let him know that she likes a book where the protagonist is like Jess? A literary flirtation, like Jess annotating her copy of Howl?

Jess’ later career has a few things in common with Roark – neither of them graduate because they can’t be fettered by a conventional curriculum, both believe themselves to be misunderstood, both would prefer to take any paying job rather than compromise their creative integrity, and both become successful in their chosen fields.

More eye-raising is the character of Dominique, Roark’s love interest, and said to be his perfect match. Their first sexual encounter is so rough that Dominique describes it as a “rape”, and yet comes back for more, again and again. It’s a risque (or even plain risky) thing for a teenage girl to recommend to a boy she likes, and if this is a flirtation-by-literature, Rory seems to have suggested that Jess make things physical, even without her explicit consent.

Andrew? Jackson?

TAYLOR: Andrew?
SOOKIE: Jackson?

Jackson is piqued because Sookie hasn’t picked up on his hints he wants to move in with her, and petulantly refuses to bid on her basket. With nobody else making a move, Andrew from Stars Hollow Books puts in a bid for it. At this point, Andrew appears to be single, but it’s unclear whether he wants the delicious basket, or Sookie herself. He certainly doesn’t seem worried about upsetting Jackson.

The point where Andrew and Jackson’s names are said together is almost certainly a joking reference to Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), lawyer, soldier, and statesmen who served as the 7th President of the United States, from 1829 to 1837.

Pat Buchanan, Jerry Falwell, Kathy Lee Gifford

JESS: I don’t know, bet you have a lot of supporters on this. Pat Buchanon, Jerry Falwell, Kathie Lee Gifford.

Patrick “Pat” Buchanan (born 1938), right-wing political commentator, politician and broadcaster. He was an assistant and consultant to Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan, and one of the original hosts of CNN’s current events program, Crossfire. He has expressed sympathy for Nazi war criminals and support for eugenics, denied the Holocaust, and called for the lynching and horse-whipping of the young men of colour wrongly convicted in the Central Park jogger case. In 1990, he argued the case for music censorship in a debate on Crossfire.

Jerry Falwell Sr (1933-2007) [pictured], Southern Baptist pastor, televangelist, and conservative activist. He was pro-segregation and pro-apartheid, and a supporter of Anita Bryant’s campaign to oppose equal rights for gay people (he denounced Tinky Winky from the Teletubbies as a gay icon). He sued both Penthouse and Hustler magazine in the 1980s for an article and an advertisement that he believed had defamed him or caused him distress; the courts ruled in favour of free speech.

Kathie Lee Gifford (born Kathryn Epstein in 1953), television presenter, singer, songwriter, and author. She is best known for her fifteen-year run as co-host of Live! With Regis and Kathie Lee. She became a born-again Christian at the age of 12, and was a secretary/babysitter to Anita Bryant. I’m not actually aware of any censorship she has advocated for.

Flaubert and Churchill Biographies

RICHARD: You know what else I noticed?
RORY: What?
RICHARD: A first edition Flaubert, mint condition, shoved behind several of my Churchill biographies.

Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880), French novelist [pictured]. Highly influential, he is considered the leading exponent of literary realism in France. He is especially famous for his debut novel, Madame Bovary (1857), previously discussed.

Richard never specifies which book he has a first edition of, but fans often assume it is Madame Bovary, since Rory likes it. A first edition of even the English translation would cost tens of thousands of dollars, making this very unlikely. However, the first edition of the English translation of Three Tales (1877), published by Chatto and Windus in 1923, can be picked up for as little as $50, and is a very handsome volume. This would be my pick for Richard’s first edition.

Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965), British statesman who served as Prime Minister from 1940 to 1945, and then again from 1951 to 1955. He is especially famous for his inspiring wartime speeches, and is considered one of the most significant figures of the twentieth century.

Richard does not say whether he means biographies by Churchill or about him, but probably the latter, since Churchill only wrote two biographies (not several, although Richard could have multiple copies of each).


LORELAI: Have you seen my bag with the beads and the fur, kind of looks like Stalin’s head?

Joseph Stalin (1878-1953), Georgian revolutionary and Soviet leader who governed the Soviet Union from 1924 until his death. He is occasionally depicted wearing a round furry hat, which might be what Lorelai is thinking of. Of course Lorelai has a Communist bag!

Billy Graham

LORELAI: The Bible said all that, huh? Did it, did it mention me by name? I’m just . . . okay, I’m just kidding. So, um, judging by your Billy Graham impression, I am guessing that you didn’t send me an ice cream maker, so maybe you could just give me Aunt Clarissa’s phone number?

William “Billy” Graham (1918-2018) was a prominent American evangelist and ordained Southern Baptist who became well-known internationally in the 1940s. He held large outdoor rallies and his sermons were broadcast on television from 1947 to 2005, with an entire lifetime audience of over two billion, meaning he preached the Gospel to more people than anyone in history. He repudiated racial segregation, and invited Martin Luther King Jr to preach alongside him at a joint rally in 1957. He became the spiritual adviser for every US president from Harry S. Truman to Barack Obama.

John Birch Society

MIA: He [Luke] would help people carry groceries home.
RORY: Oh, how very Boy Scout-y of you.
MIA: For a quarter a bag.
LORELAI: Oh, how very John Birch Society-y of you.

The John Birch Society is an ultraconservative, radical far-right political advocacy group. It was founded in 1958 by businessman Robert W. Welch Jnr (1899-1985), who saw it as a way to oppose Communism. Welch owned the Oxford Candy Company in Brooklyn, so maybe he was just on a major sugar high, but he denounced nearly everyone as a Communist agent, including former presidents Truman and Eisenhower.

The society is named in honour of Baptist missionary John Birch (1918-1945), a US military intelligence captain in China who was killed in a confrontation with Chinese Communist soldiers, ten days after the end of World War II. He was posthumously awarded the Army Distinguished Service Medal. Welch saw Birch as the first casualty of the Cold War.

The John Birch Society has had a resurgence with the election of Donald Trump, previously discussed, and its previously fringe views have now become mainstream in right-wing politics.

Donald Trump

LORELAI: It’s the title search for the Rachel property. And guess who owns it.
SOOKIE: Tell me it’s not that bastard Donald Trump.

Donald Trump (born 1946), American businessman, media personality, and politician. He became president of his father’s real estate business in 1971 and renamed it The Trump Organisation. Trump expanded the company’s operations to building and renovating skyscrapers, hotels, casinos, and golf courses. He later started various side ventures, mostly by licensing his name. Trump and his businesses have been involved in more than 4,000 state and federal legal actions, including six bankruptcies. He owned the Miss Universe brand of beauty pageants from 1996 to 2015.

Sookie seems to think of Donald Trump as someone who owns so much real estate, any random property could very well be his. Although it seems comically unlikely he would own a rundown inn in rural Connecticut, he did have a history of buying derelict hotels and doing them up.

It’s probably best that Sookie doesn’t know that Donald Trump will later become the President of the United States (2017-2021).

Nancy Reagan

RORY: You look like Nancy Reagan.

Nancy Reagan (born Anne Robbins, 1921-2016) was an American film actress, and as wife to Ronald Reagan, the 40th President of the US, First Lady from 1981 to 1989.

Nancy Reagan had a strong interest in fashion and was often compared to former First Lady, Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy, previously discussed. She favoured the colour red, and wore it so often that fire-engine red became known as “Reagan red”. Her clothing choices did actually resemble Lorelai and Emily’s outfits, and I think they must have been based on Reagan’s signature style.