Eugene O'Neill

Eugene O'Neill

Eugene O'Neill

Eugene O'Neill

Excerpt

The personality of Eugene O'Neill is quite as extraordinary as his work. I had originally intended to offer in a few introductory pages a simple statement of the facts of his life, take my notes to him and have the finished product certified as historically correct.

But the subject of my study cannot be so lightly disposed of. The more I see of him and the more I bother his friends for their opinions, the more difficult does my task become.

Any intelligible discussion of his plays must be based upon some knowledge of their origin during the years when he was groping, though all unconsciously, for a meaning in life; when, like Synge, he loved all that had edge, "all that is salt in the mouth, all that is rough to the hand, all that heightens the emotions by contest, all that stings into life the sense of tragedy."

He is tall and slender and wiry, with long arms and strong hands. His body is lithe as an athlete's. His manner is shy and diffident; he nearly always seems embarrassed. Unless he is expressing ideas that interest him, he speaks haltingly or not at all. His silences are eloquent. His face in repose has a certain chiseled though not altogether cold severity, but his smile is disarmingly frank and engaging. With the ordinary amenities of social intercourse he has nothing to do, yet no one would . . .

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