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The Night of the Iguana (New Directions Paperbook) Paperback – October 30, 2009

4.1 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“In the end he is simply a superb storyteller.” (Don Sjoerdsma, Phoenix/Indiana University)

About the Author

Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) is the acclaimed author of many books of letters, short stories, poems, essays, and a large collection of plays, including The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Camino Real, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Orpheus Descending, The Night of the Iguana, and The Rose Tattoo.

Doug Wright is the author of I Am My Own Wife, which won the Tony Award and the Pulitzer Prize for best play of 2004, and the Obie Award-winning play Quills.
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Product Details

  • Series: New Directions Paperbook
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: New Directions; Reprint edition (October 30, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 081121852X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811218528
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 0.1 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #413,807 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"Night of the Iguana" is a Tennessee Williams play unlike any other. Set at a Mexican hotel in the early 1940's, the drama presents several character portraits of searing intensity. The minister Shannon -- tortured with self-loathing over his inability to control his sexual appetite -- has abandoned a tour bus he has been leading and has come to stay with an old friend, Maxine. Shannon is suffering a nervous breakdown, and it is only through the near-angelic presence of Hannah Jelkes, a visitor at Maxine's, that he is able to understand himself and the actions which have brought him to this state. While so many of Williams' characters (including Shannon) feel shamefully about love and sex, in Hannah Jelkes he has created a character entirely without shame. Hannah is Williams' ideal -- a person living living free of societal mores, who (like Blanche DuBois) is offended only by deliberate cruelty and unkindness. The third act, in particular, is transfiguring; had Williams written nothing else, this act alone would guarantee him his place among the greats.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this New Directions Paperbook because I'd seen John Huston's masterful film adaptation many times and wondered how it might differ from the original. I think this is one of those rare occasions when the original and the film are equally great. What really moves me to write my first Amazon review, though, is not only Williams' masterpiece, but also the generous features that New Directions adds to it: a list of Williams' oeuvre, a chronology of his life, the Williams short-story that inspired his play, and three superb articles. The first is a beautiful and affectionate memoir by prize-winning playwright Doug Wright. Another is by Williams himself, a memoir about how he came to write "Iguana". Another - the best - is a keenly insightful essay by Kenneth Holditch about "Iguana" - very comprehensive about its theology and characters. All this for 14.95??? What a bargain! THANKS, New Directions!
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Format: Paperback
Although he lived and continued to write until 1983, Tennessee Williams' 1961 "The Night of the Iguana" was to prove his last success on Broadway. Williams painstakingly wrote the play based upon earlier short plays and stories. In the Broadway production, Patrick O'Neal and Margaret Leighton played the lead male and female characters, the Revered Lawrence Shannon and Hannah Jelkes. The venerable Bette Davis who craved for top billing in the show, played the secondary female character, Maxine Faulk. When Davis left the production, Shelly Winters replaced her.

A lengthy play in three acts, "The Night of the Iguana" requires slow, careful reading. The action is less overt and violent than in much of Williams. The play is set in the summer of 1940 in what Williams describes as "a rather rustic and very Bohemian hotel, the Sosta Verde, which, as its name implies, sits on a jungle-covered hilltop overlooking the 'caleta,' or 'morning beach' of Puerto Barrio in Mexico". World War II hangs over the play. The guests at the hotel include a family of Germans on vacation. The head of the household is the president of a firm that manufactures tanks. The family is unabashedly Nazi and follow the progress while on their holiday of the Battle of Britain. They offer largely comic interludes to the internal, private drama of the play.

Williams wrote that the theme of this play is "how to live beyond despair and still live." In Shannon, Hannah Jelkes, and Mrs Faulke as well the play shows tormented lonely people "at the end of their rope" who strive to make a human connection and to find meaning in their lives. The iguana in the title of the play shares the condition of the characters.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The play is fabulous. This format gives lots of info about putting on the play: props and insider info. I gave it 4 out of 5 because it is overpriced.
I am going to have to order from somewhere else for the future actors.
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Format: Paperback
The best play of Tennessee's late period, The Night of the Iguana features one of his best characters, in the shape of Reverend T. Lawrence Shannon, a self-hating, sexually angst ridden, anti-reverend, for whom life is now breaking down, again.

Into the hidden Mexican hotel run by the America ex-pat Maxine comes Shannon, again to reconcile his life, where he meets the vagabond painter Hannah and her 97-years-young poet grandfather.

Shannon has been leading tours throughout the world over the years since his explosion at the pulpit propelled him out of the church's favor, and now he has abandoned a busload of Texas women who are fed up with his philandering and his off-the-beaten-path tactics.

All of the drama and trauma of classic Tennessee Williams is here. The tortured Reverend, at odds with God in such a cruel world. A man whose sexuality has been more detrimental than pleasurable. As well, there is Maxine, a middle aged widower, stuck or something like it in Mexico, running a cheap, rough and tumble hotel, far away from the nonsense of cities and America. Then, the spirited Hannah, who takes to Shannon as he to her, in a feeling out of hard hearts, and lonelinesses.

Better than most of his plays, The Night of the Iguana succeeds in it's treatment of lost souls, and the meeting of two people destined for loneliness and disappointment.
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