The Theater: The Uses of Illusion



A true Irishman, Eugene O'Neill was a connoisseur of illusion and self-deceit. He knew they were not necessarily a poison, but often a nourishment, a kind of grace. The seediest dreams, tended like a campfire, served at least to make the emptier expanses of the soul more habitable. O'Neill explored the idea most thoroughly in The Iceman Cometh, which he wrote in 1939. Two years later, he stated it with a succinct force in Hughie, a one-act play that he planned as part of a series called "By Way of...

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