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Tennessee Williams: Plays 1957-1980 (Library of America)
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified 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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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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". To this group should be added "The Eccentricities of a Nightingale" which is a rewrite of Williams' earlier "Summer and Smoke" but which stands as a separate work.

The second group of plays consists of works from Williams' long period of decline. The works from this period in this volume include "The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore", "The Mutilated" "Kingdom of Earth" "Small Craft Warnings" . "Out Cry" "Vieux Carre" and "A Lovely Sunday for Creve Coeur". I want to discuss briefly this second group of plays because it was unfamiliar to me with the exception of "Creve Coeur". This group also constitutes a still controversial, neglected part of Williams' writing.

The poor reception of the later work has often been attributed to Williams' heavy deterioration from substance and alcohol abuse, to creative burn
out, to a change in public standards from the claimed repression of the 1950s, and to a change in literary styles. These factors are all important, but they tend to overlook some of the strengths of Williams' later works. Most of these plays are in a minimalist, experimental style that owes a great deal to Beckett or Ionesco. They make for difficult reading and acting. With the stylistic change, Williams' themes of loneliness, sexuality, and the tension between flesh and spirit remain alive.

Some of the late plays have survived their initial rejection and have been revived in connection with the 2011 centennial of Williams' birth and thereafter. "Milk Train", a play which straddles mature and late Williams, was revived in 2011 in a production starring Olympia Dukakis. "Out Cry", the most difficult of the works in this collection, has had several recent performances in New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and elsewhere. "Small Craft Warnings" and the two later plays "Vieux Carre" and "Creve Coeur" which return in part to Williams' earlier years also have been performed. Finally, Williams' neglected short play, "The Mutilated" ran off-Broadway in a well-received production starring the underground performers Penny Arcade and Mink Stole. My understanding and appreciation of Williams and of the scope of his work increased by reading these late plays.

In a discussion of the late plays in this volume, New York Times drama critic Charles Isherwood wrote in a February 9, 2011 article, titled "New Light Long After His Sun Set": "it [the late plays selected for the LOA volume] belies the simplistic view that Williams's later work reveals a stark and irreversible decline in his talent. Without question the later plays are less accessible than the dramas of his artistic high summer in the 1940s and 1950s. But they are stamped with the unmistakable voice of the author, albeit raised to a more febrile, scabrous pitch. It is moving, reading them together, to observe with what determination Williams pursued his own artistic path, refusing to return to old formulas even after it became glaringly clear that few were interested in the often weird, fantastic new colors of his work."

I enjoyed revisiting Williams again in this Library of America volume with the insights I gained from Lahr's biography and elsewhere. I have revived each of the plays in this volume in greater detail in the individual editions of each work. The Library of America deserves large praise for its commitment to American literature and for making the best of Tennessee Williams accessible to readers.

Robin Friedman
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 28, 2011
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Contains many of TW's later and more abstract works. The book is bound well, containing a ribbon placeholder. A must have for aspiring theater majors.
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on July 16, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
The selected plays are all fascinatingly crafted, the binding is well done and the font, type and page material all make for easy reading so I am very pleased and look forward to the Arthur Miller and Eugene O'Neill Collections by Library of America, which I purchased at the same time.

R.R. Harris, author of Double Take, An Island Travel Mystery of Lively Romance and Deadly Betrayal, available on Amazon.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Timeless!

This must be in your collection.

The Red Fur Room
[...]
A novel based on a true story. A coming of age experience of a naive young man named Sali Hand from a small southern town built on textile mills. With his boyhood friend they unwittingly visit an isolated coastal city, fallen to decay, for a town ritual. Hidden under a canopy of old oak trees drapped in spanish moss the beauty of this old place immediately arrests Sali's imagination and wonderous curiosity, and his heart is intoxicated with his first love. Incidentally Sali will not return home, and consequently his friend's destiny will leave him in pieces to be found hidden throughout the grand park that is home to the blight after dark. With certainty a plague will soon seep in from the trees and began slowly distilling the life from Sali's new found friends casting him into a dark nightmare he may not escape. With the rising hot air the spanish moss sweeps gracefully in slow rhythm over the arms that have embraced a culture for hundreds of years. It will now set the town on fire with fear.
Due out this fall 2013
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on August 23, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Great collection to have.
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on September 5, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Good
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2 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Tennessee Williams is in the top ranks of American playwrights. His works are a MUST for serious students of the American theatre. Moreover, they are wonderful works for actors to read and learn from -- some of the finest characters, most poignant scenes, and brilliant insights on human nature AND theatrical staging that you can find anywhere. Cheerful? No. Uplifting? Usually not. Brilliant, stageworthy and gripping? Always. This collection, both volumes, gives you all the plays, plus some very worthwhile notes and prefaces from Williams himself.
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