Theater: The Laureate of the Outcast

Tennessee Williams: 1911-1983

A great artist is reborn at the hour of his death. His works cast a larger and more durable shadow than the man who wrote them. So it will prove with Thomas Lanier Williams, a.k.a. Tennessee, who choked to death in Manhattan last week (after swallowing the cap of a medicine bottle). With the debatable exception of Eugene O'Neill, he was the greatest playwright in U.S. dramatic history.

O'Neill gave the American theater a new birth of seriousness. Williams annexed for it a new terrain of freedom. In his plays, the previously...

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