Eugene O’Neill and His Early Contemporaries

Bohemians, Radicals, Progressives and the Avant Garde


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About the Book

Eugene O’Neill was one of the great American playwrights of the twentieth century. Spanning the years 1910–1930, the 14 essays in this volume address the milieu he knew best—his friends in bohemian Greenwich Village, Provincetown, on waterfronts around the globe, and in the other beloved communities that comprised his early circle. At a time when O’Neill’s creative powers were in their infancy, these influences formed the backdrop of his creative development and, consequently, demand more intensive study than they have received to date. This collection also highlights the larger modernist period and its impact on the First World War, the Little Theater Movement, the Abbey Players of Dublin, philosophical anarchism, and other contemporary upheavals that permeate his drama. Interspersed with rare period photos and illustrations, this volume contextualizes O’Neill’s plays in the tumult of his historical and cultural moment, offering scholars a fresh approach to his life and art.

About the Author(s)

Eileen J. Herrmann is an adjunct associate professor in Oakland, California.
Robert M. Dowling is an associate professor of English at Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, Connecticut.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Eileen J. Herrmann and Robert M. Dowling
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 324
Bibliographic Info: 30 photos, appendix, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2011
pISBN: 978-0-7864-4557-8
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi

Introduction (Eileen J. Herrmann and Robert M. Dowling) 1

“Vital Contact”: O’Neill and the Working Class (Patrick Chura) 9

The Maritime Roots of O’Neill’s Radicalism  (Robert A. Richter) 31

1912  (Cynthia McCown) 50

J.M. Synge and the Abbey Theatre’s Leftist Influence on O’Neill (Nelson O’Ceallaigh Ritschel) 78

“You Are the Irish Kitchen Maid, Are You Not?”: Young O’Neill, an Irish Radical? (Thierry Dubost) 95

“A Lot of Crazy Socialists and Anarchists”: O’Neill and the Artist Social Problem Play   (Drew Eisenhauer) 110

Hugo of The Iceman Cometh: Realism and O’Neill (Doris Alexander) 132

“You Needn’t Be Scared of Me!”: Joe Mott and the Politics of Isolation and Interdependence in The Iceman Cometh  (Donald P. Gagnon) 143

Probing Legends in Bohemia: The Symbiotic Dance Between O’Neill and the Provincetown Players (Jeff Kennedy) 160

The Reel O’Neill in Reds (Zander Brietzke) 194

Saints and Hounds: Modernism’s Pursuit of Dorothy Day and O’Neill (Eileen J. Herrmann) 210

“What Made You Leave the Movement?”: O’Neill, Mike Gold, and the Radicalism of the Provincetown Players (David Roessel) 234

O’Neill and Paul Robeson: Climbing Jacob’s Ladder (Joseph Dorinson) 250

On O’Neill’s “Philosophical Anarchism” (Robert M. Dowling) 270

Appendix: Selected Chronology 1888–1928 293

About the Contributors 301

Index 305

Book Reviews & Awards

“a valuable and useful book…should be in the library of every O’Neill scholar”—Eugene O’Neill Review.