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Ayn Rand’s O. Henry—and Ours: Ingenuity, Optimism and Warmth

Shoshana Milgram

Presented at: OCON 2013

Date: Jul 05, 2013

The theme of this course is the distinctive and enduring literary achievement of O. Henry, whom Ayn Rand esteemed ever since she first read his fiction in Soviet Russia. We too—here and now—can savor his ingenuity, optimism and warmth.

This course describes Ayn Rand’s experience with O. Henry: her reading of the first Russian translations, her personal copies and the indications in her writing of her admiration for his art. We discover, as she did, literary values that go beyond his trademark narrative surprises or “twists.” In reading his stories (including his personal tributes to Les Misérables and Cyrano de Bergerac), we relish his demonstration that what “ought to be” indeed “might be,” because events and individuals—in defiance of the obvious and conventional—can startle us with unexpected joy and goodness.

Participants will receive, in advance, a list of recommended stories to read (available online without charge), along with questions for consideration.


Parts: 3

Handout: none


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