Today’s Wall Street Journal contains an interesting reference to Ayn Rand’s view of (the alcoholic drink) armagnac, as evidenced in her characterization of Guy Francon in The Fountainhead.
The article is titled “Cognac’s Cousin From Gascony.” Below are some relevant excerpts.
Armagnac has an image problem. To start with, not that many people seem to be sure exactly what it is. …
[T]o the extent most folks have heard of armagnac, the impression they have been given is that it is a pompous quaff for phonies and poseurs and heavies — characters such as Senator Planet, Guy Francon, Sheridan Ballou and Eugene Lopwitz.
… A few years later, Ayn Rand picked up the theme. The novelist prided herself on penning caricatures of phonies such as Guy Francon, who in “The Fountainhead” embodies everything her architect hero Howard Roark despises. A rich and successful architect, Francon is intellectually lazy and stylistically derivative. Francon “hasn’t designed a doghouse in eight years,” but when he did, he was fond of such touches as “Corinthian columns of cast iron painted gold, and garlands of gilded fruit on the walls.” And what does Francon like to drink? Armagnac.
Rand seems to associate armagnac with the most contemptible sort of self-satisfaction. The paragraph that ends with Francon declaring he has fired Roark (because “the insolent bastard” refused to mock up a simplified Doric design for an office building) begins with the boss bragging about how he buys his favorite armagnac for “a hundred dollars a case!”