Cover image for Tennessee Williams : mad pilgrimage of the flesh
Title:
Tennessee Williams : mad pilgrimage of the flesh
Author:
Lahr, John, 1941- , author.
Personal Author:
Edition:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : W.W. Norton & Company, [2014]
Physical Description:
xv, 765 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm
Language:
English
Contents:
Blood-hot and personal -- The heart can't wait -- The erotics of absence -- Fugitive mind -- Thunder of disintegration -- Beanstalk country -- Kookhood -- Waving and drowning -- The long farewell -- The sudden subway.
ISBN:
9780393021240
Format :
Book

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PS3545.I5365 Z7326 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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PS3545.I5365 Z7326 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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PS3545.I5365 Z7326 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Popular Materials-Biography
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PS3545.I5365 Z7326 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
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PS3545.I5365 Z7326 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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PS3545.I5365 Z7326 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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PS3545.I5365 Z7326 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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PS3545.I5365 Z7326 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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PS3545.I5365 Z7326 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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PS3545.I5365 Z7326 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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PS3545.I5365 Z7326 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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PS3545.I5365 Z7326 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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PS3545.I5365 Z7326 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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PS3545.I5365 Z7326 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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PS3545.I5365 Z7326 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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PS3545.I5365 Z7326 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Biography
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PS3545.I5365 Z7326 2014 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
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Summary

Summary

John Lahr has produced a theater biography like no other. Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh gives intimate access to the mind of one of the most brilliant dramatists of his century, whose plays reshaped the American theater and the nation's sense of itself. This astute, deeply researched biography sheds a light on Tennessee Williams's warring family, his guilt, his creative triumphs and failures, his sexuality and numerous affairs, his misreported death, even the shenanigans surrounding his estate.

With vivid cameos of the formative influences in Williams's life--his fierce, belittling father Cornelius; his puritanical, domineering mother Edwina; his demented sister Rose, who was lobotomized at the age of thirty-three; his beloved grandfather, the Reverend Walter Dakin--Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh is as much a biography of the man who created A Streetcar Named Desire, The Glass Menagerie, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof as it is a trenchant exploration of Williams's plays and the tortured process of bringing them to stage and screen.

The portrait of Williams himself is unforgettable: a virgin until he was twenty-six, he had serial homosexual affairs thereafter as well as long-time, bruising relationships with Pancho Gonzalez and Frank Merlo. With compassion and verve, Lahr explores how Williams's relationships informed his work and how the resulting success brought turmoil to his personal life.

Lahr captures not just Williams's tempestuous public persona but also his backstage life, where his agent Audrey Wood and the director Elia Kazan play major roles, and Marlon Brando, Anna Magnani, Bette Davis, Maureen Stapleton, Diana Barrymore, and Tallulah Bankhead have scintillating walk-on parts. This is a biography of the highest order: a book about the major American playwright of his time written by the major American drama critic of his time.

Winner of the 2015 Sheridan Morley Prize for Theatre Biography
American Academy of Arts and Letters' Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award
Chicago Tribune Best Books of 2014
USA Today 10 Books We Loved Reading
Washington Post 10 Best Books of 2014


Author Notes

National Book Award finalist John Lahr is the author of Tennessee Williams: Mad Pilgrimage of the Flesh, among other books. He was the senior drama critic of The New Yorker for over two decades. He has twice won the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism and is the first critic ever to win a Tony Award (coauthor, Elaine Stritch at Liberty).


Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

In this exhaustive biography of Tennessee Williams, Lahr presents the life of the legendary playwright, warts and all, in enthralling detail, tracing him from his early life in a troubled Mississippi family (which gave him plenty of fodder for his plays), to his almost overnight success with The Glass Menagerie, to his death in 1983. The book also paints a fascinating picture of the theater world during Williams's time, populated with such luminaries as Marlon Brando, Bette Davis, and others. Reader Ashley is a Tony Award-nominated actress who portrayed Maggie in the 1974 Broadway revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and was also a longtime friend of Williams. She reads Lahr's book in a southern accent, perfectly infused with bourbon and cigarettes, and though her rendering of the expository passages is perfunctory, she shines when quoting Williams and his friends, lovers, and colleagues. A Norton hardcover. (Sept.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


Choice Review

This new biography of playwright Tennessee Williams was conceived as a sequel to the late Lyle Leverich's Tom: The Unknown Tennessee Williams (CH, Mar'96, 33-3772), which concludes with the staging of The Glass Menagerie (1944). However, longtime New Yorker theater critic John Lahr decided that "to reinterpret the plays and the life, [he] needed to revisit Williams's childhood and to take a different tack from Lyle's encyclopedic chronological approach." The result is indeed a "stand-alone biography," a masterful treatment of the often-tempestuous professional and personal relationships that shaped Williams's characteristically autobiographical dramas, from Battle of Angels through his last major play, A House Not Meant to Stand. Although Lahr makes limited reference to the extensive secondary scholarship on Williams's work, he cites interviews, memoirs, and manuscript collections in libraries from California to Massachusetts. Lahr's deep knowledge of the theater is evident in his attention to the impact of producers, directors, agents, actors, and reviewers on A Streetcar Named Desire, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and other gripping dramas of Williams's "mad pilgrimage of the flesh." Summing Up: Essential. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers. --Joan Wylie Hall, University of Mississippi


Table of Contents

Prefacep. xiii
1 Blood-Hot and Personalp. 1
2 The Heart Can't Waitp. 68
3 The Erotics of Absencep. 151
4 Fugitive Mindp. 215
5 Thunder of Disintegrationp. 279
6 Beanstalk Countryp. 346
7 Kookhoodp. 397
8 Waving and Drowningp. 456
9 The Long Farewellp. 509
10 The Sudden Subwayp. 583
Acknowledgmentsp. 603
Chronologyp. 605
Notesp. 617
Sourcesp. 725
Creditsp. 731
Indexp. 741