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Customer Review

23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars America's greatest plywright at his best!, April 20, 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Eugene O'Neill : Complete Plays 1932-1943 (Library of America) (Hardcover)
This collection of work gives the reader O'Neill, America's greatest playwright, at his most powerful. The two earlier collections are likewise great, but this third one contains his two strongest works: "The Iceman Cometh" and "Long Day's Journey Into Night."
In "The Iceman Cometh," O'Neill creates a world of happy derelicts. They spend their nights and days in Harry Hope's saloon, living through today by drinking and believing in the "pipe dreams" of tomorrow. That is until Hickey comes to town. He forces them, for the first time, to look honestly at their lives. This dose of reality has devestating affects on the patrons of Harry's.
Also included is O'Neill's masterpiece, "Long Day's Journey Into Night." This play, not published or produced in his lifetime, painfully tells the story of his own dysfunctional family. The play's action is one calendar day, but O'Neill, through dialogue, takes the reader back to the origins of their problems. The emotions displayed, which include guilt, envy, pain, cynicism, and love, tears the family apart, while strangely holding them together. Even though the emotions run high, O'Neill does it without employing sentimentality. He is honest without becoming melodramatic. A rare accomplish in literature. A more emotionally rendering work would be hard to find.
These two works are not the only jems the collection contains. "A Moon for the Misbegotten," now running on Broadway, continues the story of his brother, Jamie, who appears in "Long Day's Journey . . ." "Ah, Wilderness!" is a fine coming of age story.
The others also bare the mark of O'Neill's genius. The stories, set in the first half of the twentieth century, are as true today as they were when written. They've persevered and have proven timeless. His characters live with the reader long after the work is finished. And many are well worth a second visit.
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