The Four Million, a collection of twenty-five short stories by O. Henry (William Sydney Porter, 1862-1910), appeared in 1906 to largely laudatory reviews in the Atlantic Monthly, the Critic, the New York Times, and the Independent, among other publications. It contains three of O. Henry's most famous stories, "The Gift of the Magi," "The Cop and the Anthem," and "The Furnished Room." O. Henry was called a "born storyteller" and was praised as "the American Maupassant." In addition to the famous French short story writer Guy ...
The Four Million, a collection of twenty-five short stories by O. Henry (William Sydney Porter, 1862-1910), appeared in 1906 to largely laudatory reviews in the Atlantic Monthly, the Critic, the New York Times, and the Independent, among other publications. It contains three of O. Henry's most famous stories, "The Gift of the Magi," "The Cop and the Anthem," and "The Furnished Room." O. Henry was called a "born storyteller" and was praised as "the American Maupassant." In addition to the famous French short story writer Guy de Maupassant, reviewers frequently compared him to Bret Harte, Mark Twain, and Charles Dickens. In addition, he also enjoyed some vogue in Europe. The Four Million, and other stories, by O. Henry is an anthology that is a thorough introduction to classic literature for those who have not yet experienced these literary masterworks. As an anthology that invites readers to immerse themselves in the masterpieces of the literary giants, it is must-have addition to any library. O. Henry's short stories are known for their wit, wordplay, warm characterization, and surprise endings. The title 'The Four Million' is a protest against the social arbiter, who counts only the exclusive "four-hundred" of fashionable society, leaving out of his reckoning such interesting humanity as the hall-bedroom young man, and the tramp. In the 'Gift of the Magi' a young husband and wife sacrifice their greatest treasures to buy Christmas presents for each other. He pawns his gold watch to buy a set of real shell combs for her beautiful hair, unaware that she that day has cut off her long hair and sold it to get him a handsome fob for his watch. Another story has a tramp hero. With winter coming "Soapy" finds the bench in the park no longer comfortable even with three Sunday newspapers distributed over his person. He makes desperate efforts to get sent up to the workhouse for winter lodging, as his more fortunate fellow-citizens would make arrangements for Palm Beach and the Riviera. He breaks a window, steals an umbrella, assumes the r???le of "masher," tries drunk and disorderly conduct, but all in vain, the police refuse to arrest him. As, however, he lingers near a church listening to the anthem, resolved to lead a better life, a policeman arrests him for loitering. 'An Unfinished Story' is a stern arraignment of the employer who underpays his shop-girls. Dulcie is saved from going out with the man known as "Piggie" this one night by the look of "sorrowful reproach," in the eyes of General Kitchener looking down at her from his gilt frame on her dresser, but the end of the story will be later, "sometime when Piggie asks Dulcie again to dine with him, and she is feeling lonelier than usual, and General Kitchener happens to be looking the other way." 'The Furnished Room' is really a ghost story. The ghost is a whiff of mignonette which suggests his lost sweetheart to the boy who by pathetic coincidence has come to the same "furnished room" where she had just ended her life. He is convinced that she has been in the room, and hopes to find trace of her, but the landlady will not tell the story of her last lodger, for fear of not renting the room. With loss of hope he loses faith, puts out the light, and turns on the gas, as she had done before him. 'The Sisters of the Golden Circle' are two brides who recognize their sisterhood on the top of a "rubber-neck wagon." The more fortunate sister allows her own husband to be arrested as a burglar long enough to let the real "Pinky" escape to finish his honeymoon. The humor, pathos, and philosophy of O. Henry are at their best in these varied sketches with characteristic surprise endings. William Sydney Porter lends the pen name "O. Henry" to surprise endings signed officially as Sydney Porter. His biography shows where he found inspiration for his characters. Their voices and his language were products of his era.
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