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Tennessee Williams: Plays 1937-1955 (Library of America) Hardcover – October 1, 2000

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Tennessee Williams: Plays 1937-1955 (Library of America) + Tennessee Williams: Plays 1957-1980 (Library of America) + Arthur Miller: Collected Plays 1944-1961 (Library of America)
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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

This set collects all of Williams's plays, including the recently rediscovered early efforts Spring Storm and Not About Nightingales up through his most famous works and later lesser-known dramas. These magnificent titles are essential for all academic and public libraries.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About the Author

This volume is edited by Mel Gussow (1933–2005), who was a drama critic, a cultural writer at The New York Times, and author of several books, including Edward Albee: A Singular Journey, and by Kenneth Holditch, professor emeritus at the University of New Orleans, editor since 1989 of the Tennessee Williams Journal, and the author of In Old New Orleans.
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Product Details

  • Series: Library of America
  • Hardcover: 975 pages
  • Publisher: Library of America (October 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1883011868
  • ISBN-13: 978-1883011864
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.4 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #173,422 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Tennessee Williams (1911-1983), one of the 20th century's most superb writers, was also one of its most successful and prolific. His classic works include Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie, Summer and Smoke, Camino Real, Sweet Bird of Youth, Night of the Iguana, Orpheus Descending, and The Rose Tattoo.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

101 of 102 people found the following review helpful By Frank Perry on February 11, 2001
Format: Hardcover
The new Library of America volume "Tennessee Williams: Plays, 1937-1955" is the first of two volumes. (The second volume covers the plays from 1957 to 1980.) This is a magnificent book, beautifully printed and bound. It is comprehensive (over 1000 pages) and has extensive notes and a complete chronology of Williams's life. Several of the plays are printed with commentaries by Tennessee Williams himself, essays that are very informative. This book belongs in the library of any fan of American theater.
If you have only seen the several movies made in the 1950's from his plays, reading these will prove a revelation for you. Because of the restrictions put on movies in the 50's, most of his works were deeply expurgated, especially any overt references to homosexuality. So reading the original plays here often reveals underlying previously obscure motivations/conflicts of some of the characters: why, for example, Blanche DuBois had fallen from being a privileged Southern Belle to the pathetic wretch who appeared on Stanley and Stella's doorstep.
Unlike many playwrights, Tennessee Williams tended to give long, detailed stage directions. This gives the reader of the plays a novel-like narrative, making them wonderful experiences for readers who do not ordinarily enjoy reading plays. The sensuous atmosphere, the classical -- almost Greek sense of tragedy that looms in almost all of these plays, and the exquisite use of language make this a unique reading experience. The writers who had influence over Williams's style are never named but seem apparent, at least to this reader. For example, when reading "The Rose Tattoo" I was reminded of the great Spanish poet/playwright Garcia Lorca's "House of Bernarda Alba.
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77 of 83 people found the following review helpful By crimekate on July 14, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The plays contained in this volume are wonderful and interesting (especially in terms of his development) to any fan of Tennessee Williams... but I purchased the book believing it was the COMPLETE collected plays 1937-1955, which it is not. It is a group of "selected" plays. I bought it hoping to get more of the one-acts and historical oddities. It contains some of these, but mostly consists of his the more well-known plays, which anyone who would buy this book likely already has (e.g. Cat. Streetcar, Menagerie). Perhaps Amazon.com might want to place a line of explanatory commentary to that effect on the product description.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on February 7, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Tennessee Williams wrote plays exploring human passion with an unflinching and iconoclastic candor, shattering conventional proprieties and transforming the American stage of his day. This outstanding, two-volume series from The Library Of America showcases Williams' extraordinary range and achievement as a playwright with 32 of his works, including recently rediscovered plays of his early career (Spring Storm; Not About Nightingales). All of his works from the years 1937 through 1980 are here, including his world renowned plays The Glass Menagerie; A Streetcar Named Desire; Orpheus Descending; Suddenly Last Summer; Sweet Bird Of Youth; The Night Of The Iguana; and his Pulitzer- Prizing winning Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. This two volume collection is further enhanced with a chronology of Williams' life, explanatory notes, an essay on the tests of the plays, and cast lists of many of the original productions. Tennesse Williams: Plays, Volumes 1 & 2 is an essential addition to personal, scholarly, and theatrical history collections.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A. Stevens on February 28, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love these collections of Williams plays. I have both volumes and they include all his plays. Still small enough to carry around as the pages are very thin but this is not in anyway bothersome. His writing has changed my life. Such compassion and understanding of human need and pain. I never tire of reading his works. Williams writing is a must for anyone, even if you are not in the theatre world. His plays are timeless and genius. He is the such a beautiful, poetic playwright.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By taragold on September 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This collection of Tennessee Williams plays provides an insightful view into the world of a famous American writer. I loved re-reading plays in their originial, which have been adapted into movies that almost everyone (over 40) has seen. I especially liked the comments from the playwright which gives insight into the man himself. Excellent book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 26, 2015
Format: Hardcover
I first got to know some of the plays of Tennessee Williams (1911 -- 1983) in the mid-1960s, and I have revisited his works often over the years. Last year, I had the opportunity to read John Lahr's biography, "Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh" (2014) which revitalized my interest in Williams. I decided to read or to reread Williams, using what I had learned from Lahr, in the Library of America two-volume collection of his plays. The first LOA volume, which I am reviewing here, consists of plays written between 1937 and 1955 as selected by two scholars of Williams: Mel Gussow and Kenneth Holditch. The volume includes a chronology of Williams' life, and information on the original productions and editions of the plays in addition to the texts.

Williams' works have always moved me with their beautifully flowing lyricism, their romanticism, and sexuality and with the tension they dramatize between convention and individuality,religion and sex, love and violence. The boundaries of some of these tensions have changed since the 1940s and 1950s, but I think Williams stories, characters, and dilemmas are independent of particular times. They are also highly personal and autobiographical. At the outset of his biography, Lahr quotes Williams in the late 1930's vowing to write plays that "were a picture of my own heart". In Lahr's account, Williams later continued to aim "to be simple, direct, and terrible. I will speak truth as I see it.. without concealment or evasion and with a fearless unashamed frontal assault upon life." This volume and its companion allow the reader to measure whether and how well Williams succeeded in his aims.
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Tennessee Williams: Plays 1937-1955 (Library of America)
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