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Three plays by the Nobel Prize winner about people at the base of the social ladder suffering from grief and guilt, as all people can identify with their trials and judgment.
Shortly after the debut of Exorcism in 1920, Eugene O'Neill suddenly canceled production and ordered all extant copies of the drama destroyed. For over ninety years, it was believed that the play was irrevocably lost, until it was recently discovered that O'Neill's second wife had in fact retained a copy, which she later gave to the prolific screenwriter and producer Philip Yordan. In early 2011, Yordan's widow discovered the typescript of Exorcism--complete with edits in O'Neill's own hand--in her late husband's vast trove of papers. The discovery and publication of Exorcism, a relatively early play in the O'Neill corpus, furthers our knowledge of O'Neill's dramatic development and reveals a pivotal point in the career of this great American playwright. Revolving around a suicide attempt, Exorcism draws on a dark incident in O'Neill's own life. This defining event led to his first serious efforts to write. Exorcism displays early examples of O'Neill's unparalleled skills of capturing deeply personal human drama, and it explores major themes--mourning and melancholia, addiction and sobriety, tensions between fathers and sons--that would permeate his later work. According to Yale University's Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library curator Louise Bernard, who acquired the play from a New York bookseller, "Exorcism might be read as a preparatory sketch that resonates powerfully with Long Day's Journey into Night, one that brings the O'Neill family drama full circle in ways at once intimate and grandly conceived."
Eugene O'Neill was the first American playwright to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. He completed The Iceman Cometh in 1939, but he delayed production until after the war, when it enjoyed a long run of performances in 1946 after receiving mixed reviews. Three years after O'Neill's death, Jason Robards starred in a Broadway revival that brought new critical attention to O'Neill's darkest and most nihilistic play. In the half century since, The Iceman Cometh has gained enormously in stature, and many critics now recognize it as one of the greatest plays in American drama. The Iceman Cometh focuses on a group of alcoholics and misfits who endlessly discuss but never act on their dreams, and Hickey, the traveling salesman determined to strip them of their pipe dreams.
Eugene O'Neill mined the tragedies of his own life for this depiction of a seedy, skid row saloon in 1912, peopled by society's failures: drifters, whores, pimps, and informers.
Eugene O'Neill's autobiographical play Long Day's Journey into Night is regarded as his finest work. First published by Yale University Press in 1956, it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1957 and has since sold more than one million copies. This edition, which includes a new foreword by Harold Bloom, coincides with a new production of the play starring Brian Dennehy, which opens in Chicago in January 2002 and in New York in April.
Eugene O'Neill's last completed play, A Moon for the Misbegotten is a sequel to his autobiographical Long Day's Journey Into Night. Moon picks up eleven years after the events described in Long Day's Journey Into Night, as Jim Tyrone (based on O'Neill's older brother Jamie) grasps at a last chance at love under the full moonlight. This paperback edition features an insightful introduction by Stephen A. Black, helpful to anyone who desires a deeper understanding of O'Neill's work.
These three plays demonstrate O'Neill's ability to explore the limits of the human dilemma, even as he sounds the depths of his audiences' hearts.
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