Amazon.com description: Product Description
: John Gassner presents here a critical chronicle of the efforts and achievements of the one American playwright whose place in the hierarchy of world dramatists seems as secure as any twentieth-century dramatist's can be. To his critics' justifiable impatience with his laboriousness, the appropriate reply is that Eugene O'Neill is the MASTER of massive dramatic assault. His power is not often separable from his repetitiveness or even verbosity. His sense of theater was so strong that more often than not his best plays, when well structured, proved to be considerably more effective on the stage than a literary reading of them could possibly suggest. His sense of drama was so rarely "posture" despite his not always trustworthy flair for theatricality that much of his work seems wrung from him rather than contrived or calculated. In a very real sense it is a testament to a uniquely tormented spirit that subsumed much of the twentieth century's dividedness and anguish, largely existential rather than topical. And while the penalty for his metaphysical concerns and brooding inwardness was often a quasi-philosophical windiness, the reward for his refusal to settle for small temporary satisfactions is an aura of greatness in the man and his labors, or, at the very least, a dark impressiveness not easily to be dismissed by dwelling on his verbal limitations. This much can be said, without fear of contradiction, of the man who, in the words of his publisher-friend Benjamin Cerf, was "the first universally recognized world dramatist America produced" in some two centuries of theater in the Western hemisphere. This work is No. 45 in the University of Minnesota Pamphlets on American Writers series.