THE NIGHT OF JANUARY 16TH | A play Ayn Rand, World Publishing, p125.
This stage play is a courtroom drama depicting the charges of murder against Karen Andre, the former secretary (and consort) of Bjorn Faulkner (loosely based upon Ivar Kreuger). In its time, it was novel for leaving the verdict to the audience following the third act. After the audience decides, one of two short scenes concludes the play.
It was produced on and off Broadway, made into a film, and produced for radio and television. Walter Pidgeon starred in the film version, and in the Broadway performances, Helen Keller and Jack Dempsey were selected as jury members at separate performances.
Written by Ayn Rand, the drama was meant to portray her “sense of life” and dramatize the conflict between individualism and conformity.
What is striking for someone who has read Rand’s canon is the reminder that when required, the Russian-born scribe could achieve the brevity that a short drama requires.
When the murder victim is quoted as living a life to his own standards and as “having never thought of things as right or wrong,” one feels the predictable Randian impulse of transvaluation or flipping values. Both in this work and throughout her novels, Rand always provides an esteemed platform for the outlaw figure, if not the outright criminal. Readers taking things literally are left with a strong encouragement towards revolution, whereas those understanding allegory sense the push towards skepticism of herd norms.
As Rand’s works go, this is a brief foray into a broader worldview that maintains the entertainment of its reader and is perfect for reading on any 16th of January.