Landmarks of life of Eugene O'Neill

Landmarks of life of Eugene O'Neill 

Q. Show your acquaintance with the landmarks of the life of Eugene O'Neill.

Introduction : Eugene O'Neill :

Eugene Gladstone O'Neill was an American playwright, who brought the element of seriousness in American drama. His poetically titled plays were among the first to introduce into the U.S. the drama techniques of realism, earlier associated with Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, and Swedish playwright August Strindberg. 

Eugene O'Neill left behind him five unquestioned masterpieces : Desire under the Elms, Strange Interlude, Mourning becomes Electra, The Iceman Cometh, and Long day's journey into night. He is acknowledged for his distinguished serious American drama.  He was awarded with nobel prize in literature for his outstanding contribution.

Eugene O'Neill

Born 16 oct 1888, New York
Died 27 nov 1953, Boston
Profession Playwright
Father James O'Neill
Notable awards Nobel prize in literature (1936), Pulitzer prize for drama
Notable works "A Moon for the Misbegotten”, “Ah, Wilderness!”, “Anna Christie”

Landmarks of life of Eugene O'Neill :

O'Neill was born on 6th October, 1888. His father was one of the best known of American actors. O'Neill accompanied his father on his long acting tours, and this further increased his sense of instability. This sense of insecurity is reflected in his plays and in his restless search for a permanent place of residence in his later years.

About his boyhood and early manhood upto the age of 30, O'Neill himself expresses his disappointment in the following words 

"I am thirty. My undergraduate college education was confined to a freshman year at Princeton University class of 1910. At the end of six months I was invalided home-tropical material fever-no gold. I read about everything I could lay hands on the Greeks, the Elizabethans - practically all the classics and of course all the modern. Ibsen and strindberg, especially strindberg".

O'Neill spent several years voyaging the sea, during which he suffered from depression, alcoholism and dereliction. Despite this, he had a deep love for the sea and it emerged as a prominent theme in many of his plays, several of which are set on board ships like those on which he worked. He also joined the Marine Transport Workers Union of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), which was fighting for improved living conditions for the working class.

He entered into the profession of playwright with his early one-act play, The Web, written in 1913. Here O'Neill was the first to explore the darker themes. Here he focused on the brothel world and the lives of prostitutes. In particular, he memorably added the incident of birth of an infant into the world of prostitution. Back then, such themes constituted a huge innovation, as these sides of life had never before been explored and presented with such success.

O'Neill's first published play, Beyond the Horizon, in 1920 got great acclaim. His first major hit came out with The Emperor Jones, which ran on Broadway in 1920. It commented on the U.S. occupation of Haiti, a topic of debate in that year's presidential election. His best-known plays include Anna Christie (Pulitzer Prize 1922), Desire Under the Elms (1924), Strange Interlude (Pulitzer Prize 1928), Mourning Becomes Electra (1931), and his only well-known comedy, Ah, Wilderness!, a wistful re-imagining of his youth as he wished it had been.

In 1936, O'Neill received the Nobel Prize in Literature. O'Neill was profoundly influenced by the work of Swedish writer August Strindberg, and upon receiving the Nobel Prize, dedicated much of his acceptance speech to describing Strindberg's influence on his work.

O'Neill was a voluminous writer and an eminent and outstanding tragic artist. He was one of the first to emerge as a distinguished dramatist in America. The very bulk of his successful works make him stand out and he is one of the only few playwrights who got a wide international fame.

Related Links
Critical Theory Sources of Sublimity by Longinus
American Literature Yank : a Tragedy Hero 
British Literature Synchronic & Diachronic Linguistics
Linguistics Phonetics & Phonology


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