Download Eugene O'Neill's America: Desire Under Democracy by John Patrick Diggins PDF

By John Patrick Diggins

Within the face of likely relentless American optimism, Eugene O’Neill's performs display an the US many wish to forget about, a spot of seething resentments, aching wants, and relatives tragedy, the place failure and unhappiness are the norm and the yank dream a chimera. notwithstanding derided through critics in the course of his lifetime, his works resonated with audiences, received him the Nobel Prize and 4 Pulitzer, and proceed to grip theatergoers this present day. Now famous historian John Patrick Diggins deals a masterly biography that either lines O’Neill’s tumultuous existence and explains the forceful principles that shape the guts of his unflinching works.Diggins paints a richly particular portrait of the playwright’s lifestyles, from his Irish roots and his early years at sea to his relationships along with his stricken mom and brother. the following we see O’Neill as a tender Greenwich Village radical, a starving autodidact who tried to appreciate the disjunction among the sunny public face of yank lifestyles and the craze that he knew used to be simmering underneath. in line with Diggins, O’Neill mined this disjunction like no different American author. His characters burn with eager for an idealized destiny composed of equivalent elements fabric good fortune and person freedom, yet time and again they fall again to earth, pulled by means of the tendrils of family members and the insatiability of hope. Drawing on thinkers from Emerson to Nietzsche, O’Neill seen this forever pissed off hope because the challenging middle of yankee democracy, at the same time using and undermining American beliefs of development, luck, and person freedom.Melding a penetrating review of O’Neill’s works and notion with a delicate new version of his existence, Eugene O’Neill’s the US deals a extraordinary new view of America’s maximum playwright—and a brand new photo of yankee democracy itself.

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Additional info for Eugene O'Neill's America: Desire Under Democracy

Example text

O’Neill was too wide ranging a thinker to have his thoughts reduced to childhood determinants. Moreover, he himself could never forget the turmoil of his family background while at the same time remaining uncertain whether it explained much beyond the family. Self-knowledge would remain a mystery to O’Neill. ”10 Those who know they know, or think they do, may well remain unknown to themselves. Sean O’Casey agreed with the critic George Jean Nathan that O’Neill had surpassed him and George Bernard Shaw in plumbing the depths of human emotion.

O’Neill had read Emerson and Thoreau but he wondered whether he would ever “know thyself ” or even if there was a core self to know. When he thought about his family, he felt a certain helplessness and guilt for the pitiful condition of its members. And having lost his Catholic faith, he had little to fall back on to ease his torments, as did other children of Irish immigrants who could clear their conscience by going to confession. O’Neill had to live with the restless striving of his own soul.

They couldn’t help. They were hard put to keep themselves alive. There was no damned romance in our poverty. Twice we were evicted from the miserable hovel we called home, with my mother’s few sticks of furniture thrown out in the street, and my mother and sisters crying. I cried, too, though I tried hard not to, because I was the man of the family. At ten years old! There was no more school for me. I worked twelve hours a day in a machine shop, learning to make files. A dirty barn of a place where rain dripped through the roof, where you roasted in summer, and there was no stove in winter, and your hands got numb with cold, where only the light came through two small filthy windows, so on grey days I’d have to sit bent over with my eyes almost touching the files in order to see!

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