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Henry, O.

The Four Million (1906)

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This is O. Henry's second published book and a fabulous collection of short stories. The title is a reference to Ward McAllister's "assertion that there were only 'Four Hundred' people in New York City who were really worth noticing. But a wiser man has arisen - the census taker - and his larger estimate of human interest has been preferred in marking out the field of these little stories of the 'Four Million.'" To O. Henry, everyone in New York counted.

O. Henry's short stories are well known for their wit, wordplay, warm characterization and clever twist endings. O. Henry stories are famous for their surprise endings, to the point that such an ending is often referred to as an "O. Henry ending."

This collection includes "The Gift of the Magi" which is about a young couple who are short of money but desperately want to buy each other Christmas gifts. Unbeknownst to Jim, Della sells her most valuable possession, her beautiful hair, in order to buy a platinum fob chain for Jim's watch, while unbeknownst to Della, Jim sells his own most valuable possession, his watch, to buy jeweled combs for Della's hair. The cover image is very plain but exactly how the original 1906 publication was distributed.

 

The Four Million series: 1. The Four Million, 2. The Trimmed Lamp, 3. The Voice of the City, 4. Strictly Business


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