The plays in this volume all dramatize, in various ways, a conviction that pervades Ayn Rand’s novels and philosophic writing: that ideas are a matter of life-or-death significance to man.
Night of January 16th (1933) is her most famous play, a success on Broadway in 1936, which has since been staged around the world. The story is a murder trial, but without a prearranged verdict: the verdict is decided by a jury selected from the audience. By design the evidence presented is such that the decision must rest on the jurors’ fundamental attitude toward life and toward man’s potential for greatness.
In Ideal (1934) a famous actress enters the lives of her most ardent admirers—those who profess that she represents the embodiment of their deepest values. The play stands as an indictment of men’s willingness to betray their values by divorcing their ideals from action.
Think Twice (1939) is a murder mystery—but in the distinctive Ayn Rand style. It features men of great stature and a tightly integrated plot that hinges on the nature of men’s ethical views.
Each of the three plays in the collection is prefaced with a brief note by Leonard Peikoff, the executor of Ayn Rand’s estate. These prefaces illuminate the plot and theme of each play, and place each work within the broader context of Ayn Rand’s intellectual and literary development. Ayn Rand’s own lengthy introduction to the definitive text of Night of January 16th recounts her experiences with stage productions of the play.
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