A Streetcar Named Desire

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New Directions, 1947 - Drama - 171 pages
34 Reviews
It is a very short list of 20th-century American plays that continue to have the same power and impact as when they first appeared -- A Streetcar Named Desire is one of those plays. The story of the fading and desperate Blanche DuBois and how her sensuous and brutal brother-in-law, Stanley Kowalski, pushes her over the edge is now classic. Who better than Arthur Miller, America's elder statesman of the theater (Death of a Salesman, The Crucible, A View from the Bridge, Broken Glass, Resurrection Blues), to write as a witness to the lightning that struck American culture when Williams's singular style of poetic dialogue, violence, compassion, and dramatic sexuality was first encountered in the form of A Streetcar Named Desire? Miller's rich perspective and lucid insights make this a unique and essential new edition of A Streetcar Named Desire. Also included are Williams's essay "The World I Live In" and a chronology of the author's life and works.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - thebookmagpie - LibraryThing

I'm really struggling between three and four stars for this. The dialogue is fantastic, and the atmosphere is really well evoked, but the implied rape ruined the whole thing for me in a lot of ways ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Schmerguls - LibraryThing

While I have read all the fiction which has won the Pulitzer prize, this is only the 5th book I have read of Drama Pulitzer prizewinners. (The other four I've read are Strange Interlude (read 24 Apr ... Read full review


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About the author (1947)

After O'Neill, Williams is perhaps the best dramatist the United States has yet produced. Born in his grandfather's rectory in Columbus, Mississippi, Williams and his family later moved to St. Louis. There Williams endured many bad years caused by the abuse of his father and his own anguish over his introverted sister, who was later permanently institutionalized. Williams attended the University of Missouri, and, after time out to clerk for a shoe company and for his own mental breakdown, also attended Washington University of St. Louis and the University of Iowa, from which he graduated in 1938. Williams began to write plays in 1935. During 1943 he spent six months as a contract screenwriter for MGM but produced only one script, The Gentleman Caller. When MGM rejected it, Williams turned it into his first major success, The Glass Menagerie (1945). In this intensely autobiographical play, Williams dramatizes the story of Amanda, who dreams of restoring her lost past by finding a gentleman caller for her crippled daughter, and of Amanda's son Tom, who longs to escape from the responsibility of supporting his mother and sister. After The Glass Menagerie,Williams wrote his masterpiece, A Streetcar Named Desire, (1947), along with a steady stream of other plays, among them such major works as Summer and Smoke(1948), Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1954), and Suddenly Last Summer (1958). His plays celebrate the "fugitive kind," the sensitive outcasts whose outsider status allows them to perceive the horror of the world and who often give additional witness to that horror by becoming its victims. Stephen S. Stanton has summed up Williams's "virtues and strengths" as "a genius for portraiture, particularly of women, a sensitive ear for dialogue and the rhythms of natural speech, a comic talent often manifesting itself in "black comedy,' and a genuine theatrical flair exhibited in telling stage effects attained through lighting, costume, music, and movements." After The Night of the Iguana (1961), Williams continued to write profusely---and constantly to revise his work---but it became more difficult to get productions of his plays and, if they were produced, to win critical or popular acclaim for them. Williams won the Pulitzer Prize for drama for A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. He won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for these two and for The Glass Menagerie and The Night of the Iguana.

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