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A Streetcar Named Desire (New Directions Paperbook) Paperback – September, 2004
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“In Streetcar Williams found images and rhythms that are still part of the way we think and feel and move.”
- Jack Kroll, Newsweek
“Lyrical and poetic and human and heartbreaking and memorable and funny.”
- Francis Ford Coppola
“The introductions, by playwrights as illustrious as Williams himself, are the gem of these new editions.”
- Ken Furtado, Echo Magazine
“Blanche is the Everest of modern American drama, a peak of psychological complexity and emotional range.”
- John Lahr, The New Yorker
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.
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I had read A Streetcar Named Desire once before, but never really caught on at how so much is working underneath the surface of the dialogue. In many estimations, Blanche is a character deeply rooted in pathos and tragedy. Her vision of what the world should be, as opposed to what it truly is, is at the center of her unhinging. Arriving to her sister’s apartment in New Orleans, she has taken a leave of absence from her teaching, and there are more undercurrent issues that have taken hold of her, most notably losing Belle Reve, their childhood home. At her opposite, Stanley, Stella’s husband, represents the brute, harsh, realities of the world.
I think that, in many respects, Williams creates an intensity that builds as the play moves forward until the dramatic final scene. There is a power in Stanley and Blanche’s confrontations, especially in the final scenes as we learn more and more about Blanche’s past. These moments are written so eloquently, so human, clearly by someone who has experienced, witnessed, and reflected on the impact of human sufferings and failings. In short, clearly Williams was a man who could project real human situations into dialogue in such a clear, convincing way.
A Streetcar Named Desire is a very powerful and thought-provoking play, with characters who breathe strong emotion throughout, making the scenes really come to life. It is no wonder that this epic play was made into a fine classic 1951 film with Marlon Brando as Stanley and Vivien Leigh as Blanche.