Freud on Broadway: A History of Psychoanalysis and the American Drama

By W. David Sievers | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
Introduction

When this book was first planned, it was my intention to call it "From Suppressed Desires to A Streetcar of the Same Name." As the study progressed, however, it became clear that Susan Glaspell's entertaining little satire was not the first nor Tennessee Williams' Streetcar the last of the dramas which derived their themes from psychoanalysis. To obtain a full picture of Freud's impact we must trace the whole development of the American psychological drama from its tentative beginnings a decade before Suppressed Desires to its most recent manifestations in the work of Arthur Laurents, William Inge and Arthur Miller.

On the occasion of Sigmund Freud's eightieth birthday celebration in 1936, Thomas Mann was invited to give the principal address. Referring to the influence which Freud has had upon literature, he said:

I realized this connection only at a time when his achievement was no longer thought of merely as a therapeutic method, whether recognized or disputed; when it had long since outgrown his purely medical implications and become a world movement which penetrated into every field of science and every domain of the intellect; literature, the history of art, religion and pre-history; mythology, folklore, pedagogy . . . .

Yet the psychological play is as old as the drama itself. The mys-

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