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Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh (Paperback)
  • Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh (Paperback)
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Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh (Paperback)

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£14.99
Paperback 784 Pages / Published: 10/09/2015
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On 31 March 1945, at The Playhouse Theatre on Forty-Eight Street the curtain rose on the opening night of The Glass Menagerie. Tennessee Williams, the show's thirty-four-year-old playwright, sat hunched in an aisle seat, looking, according to one paper, `like a farm boy in his Sunday best'. The Broadway premiere, which had been heading for disaster, closed to an astonishing twenty-four curtain calls and became an instant sell-out. Beloved by an American public, Tennessee Williams's work - blood hot and personal - pioneered, as Arthur Miller declared, `a revolution' in American theatre. Tracing Williams's turbulent moral and psychological shifts, acclaimed theatre critic John Lahr sheds new light on the man and his work, as well as the America his plays helped to define. Williams created characters so large that they have become part of American folklore: Blanche, Stanley, Big Daddy, Brick, Amanda and Laura transcend their stories, haunting us with their fierce, flawed lives. Similarly, Williams himself swung high and low in his single-minded pursuit of greatness. Lahr shows how Williams's late-blooming homosexual rebellion, his struggle against madness, his grief-struck relationships with his combustible father, prim and pious mother and `mad' sister Rose, victim to one of the first lobotomies in America, became central themes in his drama. Including Williams's poems, stories, journals and private correspondence in his discussion of the work - posthumously Williams has been regarded as one of the best letter writers of his day - Lahr delivers an astoundingly sensitive and lively reassessment of one of America's greatest dramatists. Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh is the long-awaited, definitive life and a masterpiece of the biographer's art.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 9781408831458
Number of pages: 784
Weight: 645 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
A masterpiece about a genius * Helen Mirren *
Testimony to the crazy exhilaration of the entire theatrical process, and to the self-destructive solipsism of a great artist * Nicholas Hytner, Observer Books of the Year *
John Lahr's monumental tribute to the play's 34-year-old creator, the son of a frigid, hysterical virago and a combustible father - a travelling shoe-salesman whose ear was bitten off in a poker fight ... Lahr's understanding of Williams is stamped on every page. "In playwriting, he found a strategy both to hide himself away and to vent his murderous feelings" * Nicholas Shakespeare, Daily Telegraph Biographies of the Year *
John Lahr's subtitle points to the spicier ingredients the reader can feast on in this very long but never dull book ... He is supremely qualified for his task * Financial Times *
A thrilling roller-coaster ride from its opening act to the tragic last scene, with Williams lying dead on the floor of a New York hotel room, his bloated body overwhelmed by drink, drugs, and sadness * Marcus Field, Independent Books of the Year *
Dazzling, insightful ... It is a masterpiece on several levels: of synthesis and analysis * Paul Taylor, Independent *
Riveting accounts of Williams's plays in production, skilfully handled flashbacks to the early life, plenty of gossip, lavish quantities of photographs and yards of quotation. The result: total immersion, and a masterful analysis of a "self-cannibalising" writer "prepared to destroy himself for meaning" * Sunday Times Books of the Year *
Marvellous, huge, almost out-of-control biography * The Times Book of the Week *
By far the best book ever written about America's greatest playwright. John Lahr, the longtime drama critic for the New Yorker, knows his way around Broadway better than anyone. He is a witty and elegant stylist, a scrupulous researcher, a passionate yet canny advocate * Wall Street Journal *
What lifts Lahr's book into the canon of biographical masterpieces (not a word I bandy about daily) is that, in chronicling the prurient excesses of Williams's existence, he also explores, with critical and psychological acuity, the way in which great art emerged from such a profoundly unsettled and disquieting life ... Lahr's biography is awash with wonderfully skewed backstage anecdotes from Williams's career ... The seminal importance of Tennessee Williams shines through the biography - and so does the seminal sadness of his tortured life * New Statesman *
Lahr's book would be worth reading just for the anecdotes and the famous names that flit through its pages. But in essence it is a study - incisive, compelling, often painful - of how art feeds on life. -- John Carey * Sunday Times *
A marvellous, huge, almost out-of-control biography -- Roger Lewis * The Times *
The violence and melodrama of Williams's life matched that of his plays. Reading his fragility, hysteria and depression always in the context of his work, Lahr is convincing in his central contention that Williams is "the most autobiographical of American playwrights" and that his writing "was a kind of cleansing" against a horrific upbringing. Utterly compelling * Daily Telegraph *
The dependably excellent Lahr has crafted a dazzling portrait of America's foremost playwright ... raw material any biographer would kill for. Even those who have yet to pursue the "trail of beauty" in Williams's oeuvre would relish this grand entertainment -- Christopher Hirst * Independent *
magnificent and monumental * Mail on Sunday *

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