Books: New Views of a Playwright's Long Journey: Eugene O'Neill

Eugene O'Neill's centenary prompts a celebration in print

"It was my work which first awakened the outside world to the fact that an adult American drama existed which could be considered as something beyond mere theatrical entertainment." Eugene O'Neill wrote this self-assessment in a 1944 letter, and the judgment, while hardly modest, still seems incontrovertible 35 years after his death and a century after his birth. As a young playwright, O'Neill inherited a theater tradition that was principally a frame for gaslighted frivolities. By the time he got through with it, the U.S. stage had become electric, and had learned to accommodate native-grown murder, madness, alcoholism, dark sexuality and...

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