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Tennessee Williams: Plays 1957-1980 (Library of America) Hardcover – October 1, 2000

4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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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: 1883011876
  • ISBN-13: 978-1883011871
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.3 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #296,660 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brian C. Dauth on May 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Tennessee Williams represented a major advance in American drama as he introduced a lyricism that had previously been missing. Eugene O'Neill helped the American theatre grow up, but Williams was the one who made it sing.

Williams was able to create complex, vibrant plays which gave intense life to all of the contradictions, nastiness, dysfunction and beauty of American life and families. America has never produced a more honest or sincere playwright. His characters are always searching for ways to hang on to their humanity as the forces of repression and authoritarianism threaten to swallow them up or destroy them.

But above all else, Williams' dialogue is superbly, sublimely poetic. For Williams, the drama is in language itself, and no one has ever used words to greater effect than Tennessee Williams. Both Library of America volumes of Williams' plays are essential reading for people interested in theatre, America, and/or the possibilities of hope and grace in turbulent times.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have every play,short stories, novellas, poetry, memoirs by Tennessee Williams published by his publisher, New Directions and the Dramatists Play Service. But, most of them are in separate volumes.
The Library of America has in two volumes,Plays 1937-1955 and Plays 1957-1980, contain in two volumes most of the major and many of the minor plays that Tennessee Williams wrote.
It is much easier to buy two volumes for your library and reading than to buy them one at a time as I did and have a separate bookcase just for his works.
This volume starts with Orpheus Descending (also known as the Fugitive Kind)and continues with twelve additional plays published before his death. The posthumously published plays are excluded. Also, if there are multiple versions of a play, it includes one version, usually the playwrite's favorite. It includes: Suddenly Last Summer; Sweet Bird of Youth, Night of the Iguana, and plays that most would not recognize unless a movie was made of the same name as Period of Adjustment. However it does include titles that were made into movies with different titles.

I recommend to the person who does not have an obsessive compulsive desire to have his complete works that they buy this volume and its companion, Plays 1937-1955.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Loved this. I was able to read all of the plays in one place. Many of his lesser works are present. You are able to keep all of them in one place with the ability to go between each play. This collection is as important to any play lovers collection as Shakespeare.
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Format: Hardcover
In 2000, the Library of America published two volumes of the plays of Tennessee Williams edited by the Williams' scholars Mel Gussow (1933 -- 2005) and Kenneth Holditch. The second volume of the two, which I am reviewing here, includes 13 plays written between 1957 -- 1980 and also includes an excellent chronology of Williams' (1911 -- 1983) life. John Lahr's new biography, "Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh" (2014) inspired me to read Williams again, both the works which I knew and works with which I was unfamiliar. Lahr offers much insight into Williams life and work and into many of the plays in this volume.

Williams was a romantic, heavily autobiographical writer. His works are lyrical, poetical, and often florid. They explore themes of loneliness, wildness and nonconformity, and the tension between sensuality and repression. A romantic, personal writer must find a way to project his own experiences in order to succeed. At his best, Williams is able to universalize his inner life and to speak to the human condition. During his lifetime and thereafter, many people criticized his works for their lurid sexuality and their violence. Most but not all of Williams' plays have Southern settings, particularly in Mississippi or New Orleans.

The works in this volume fall into roughly two groups. The first group includes the works written between 1957 -- 1961 in the broad, naturalistically romantic voice for which Williams is best remembered. These plays include "Orpheus Descending", "Suddenly Last Summer", "Sweet Bird of Youth" and "The Night of the Iguana" together with the comedy "Period of Adjustment".
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Format: Hardcover
All of Tennessee William's writings, whether his plays, poetry, or his short stories are lyrical in his use of imagery,irony, humor,and all ways uplifting. His works all go to the heart of the "human condition"....love, not finding love, losing love, but as an actual and central reason for Life!

He has a great affection for all of his characters from Blanche DuBois to Maxine, to Alma, to Maggie 'the Cat". His male characters seem to be drawn more to everyday types, though ones who are searching, or tortured by love. Tennessee is a national treasure, his "way with words" unparalleled, and truly THE only great American playright.

Just a suggestion....there is another review posted here on this book by some person from Utah. Even though this person claims he read the book, if he did, he just did NOT get any of Tennessee's stories or plays at all. DO NOT GIVE THE "UTAH" REVIEW OF THE WORKS OF TENNESSEE WILLIAMS ANY CREDENCE.

If you have nothing else yet written by Williams, this is a great place to start. Also highly recommend his collection of Short Stories, as well as his collection of Poetry.
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