The Raven

The Raven

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

· Taxonomy · Classification · Persuasive Information Arrangement ·
Katherine Bertolucci is the leading information management consultant specializing in persuasive arrangement.
Is your organized information sending a winning message?
Do your taxonomies and classifications help users find data?
Or are they fighting with disorganized and poorly labeled lists? 
Like all communication, organized information persuades and dissuades with subtle clues. Unintentional clues may have negative effects on your project. 
Is your structured information working for you or against you?
One of the first to develop taxonomies for non-biologic information, Katherine Bertolucci began building new classifications immediately after graduating from library school at the University of Chicago, a dramatic departure from traditional librarianship.
That began a career of taxonomy and classification constructions for a multitude of subjects and data types. 
Based in Phoenix, Katherine works on large and small projects, with such well known clients as Lowe’s Home Improvement Centers, Procter & Gamble, and Snoopy.
Services include new taxonomies and classifications, arrangement advice, and critiques of existing organizational structures. 
Katherine’s lengthy experience in the design and observation of organized information will help you build persuasive arrangements for your users.
Photo Credit:  Carson Smith

Puzzle in Hollywood: Discovering Nathanael West’s Hidden Structure

By Katherine Bertolucci

George Dantzig solved unsolvable math problems because he assumed they had solutions. In my case, I discovered both the problem and the solution when I was assigned an oral presentation on the structure of The Day of the Locust during a college course on novels taught by a Nathanael West scholar.
The presumed solution to the problem of structure in West’s classic 1939 Hollywood novel had already been stated in class. There’s a riot in the first chapter and also in the final Chapter 27. The middle Chapter 14 was published as a short story before West wrote the novel. My Dantzig-like assumption was that I had to find something else to say about structure to get a good grade.
On the evening that I worked on the assignment, I immersed myself in the novel for hours before I saw the first clue. At one point in West’s story, there is a major plot event similar to another event later in the novel. I realized that the chapters for these two events are equidistant from the central Chapter 14, just like the two riots. When I looked at the pairs of chapters, 2 and 26, 3 and 25, 4 and 24, etc., I discovered that each pair is a match. The first half of the novel is reflected in the mirror of the second half. I had searched for hours, but once I saw the first clue, it took only minutes to figure out the entire novel. Like a wooden Chinese puzzle, the pieces just fell into place.
I gave my presentation and I was certainly expecting some nice compliments, but I had not even finished the first sentence when the instructor leaned forward in shock. With just as much shock, I realized this West scholar had not seen the puzzle. I spent the rest of the presentation aggressively defending my thesis.
That semester I was taking an overload, so after this incident I just went on to the next novel. Later when I was a library school student at the University of Chicago, there was some national news about professors taking credit for the work of their grad students. I remembered that I had handed my college instructor a nice fat journal article. Although I didn’t look into it, the story gave me some standing with my fellow Chicago students.
After graduation, my career immediately veered from traditional librarianship. I built a new classification system with my first professional position and continued in that direction, building new classifications for a multitude of clients, subjects and materials. My specialty now is the design of taxonomies and other structures for information presentation. I’m good at this because I have a natural ability to see patterns, which is why I recognized the puzzle in The Day of the Locust.
A few years ago I attended a professional meeting in New Orleans. Pam Rollo, now the President of the Special Libraries Association, arranged a dinner at one of the city’s finest restaurants. It is an evening that I will cherish for many reasons. Pam and I were talking about my unusual career path when I mentioned the Nathanael West story as an early indication of my skills. I said that if my teacher, a West scholar, hadn’t seen the puzzle, then nobody had seen it.
It was then I understood my obligation to Nathanael West and decided to pursue the discovery. I studied, and continue to study, the major criticism on The Day of the Locust. As far as the literary community is concerned, the structure of the novel consists of two riots and a short story in the middle. IsisInBlog is the first publication of the puzzle. Its details will be explored in future postings when I reveal Nathanael West’s elegant mirrored chapters.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Love and Fatigue in America
Roger King
Soon after the narrator of this moving autobiographical novel, a teacher from England, arrives in Spokane, he is stricken by an illness that attacks his mind and body in equal measure. He is largely confined to beds and couches, and the smallest tasks become monumental efforts. It turns out that he has chronic fatigue syndrome. Friends and colleagues react with coldness and skepticism. Sympathy comes mainly from “women with deep, secret hurts.” As the disease drives the narrator from city to city, woman to woman, and doctor to doctor, it brings into relief many of America’s follies and excesses, most notably our healthcare system, which King portrays as antiquated, bureaucratic, and inhumane. After more than fifteen years, American brings the narrator “no aspiration realized, nor a largeness of life fitting to its open spaces, but the nascent ability to be satisfied with less.



Sunday, November 6, 2011

"Anonymous," The Film

Movie review: 'Anonymous'

The film, with Rhys Ifans as Edward de Vere, the film's purported bard behind Shakespeare, is no classic, but it's fun.

    Joely Richardson and Jamie Campbell Bower in "Anonymous."
Joely Richardson and Jamie Campbell Bower in "Anonymous." (Reiner Bajo / Columbia TriStar)
October 28, 2011|By Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times Film Critic
"Anonymous" — starring a sizable swath of Britain's resident acting class — is an ambitiously biting (gnawing?) literary whodunit turning on the Shakespeare question. As in, who really wrote all those seminal plays and sonnets, a long-running scholarly debate that (unlike the actual author) apparently will never die.
That might sound like costume drama taken to deadly boring academic extremes. But surprisingly, in director Roland Emmerich's usually effects-heavy hands ("Independence Day," "The Day After Tomorrow" and oh so many more), we have something closer to a fanciful commedia dell'arte. It's Shakespeare as B-movie, if you will, or to borrow from the bard, a boffo blast, which I'm pretty sure is from either "King Lear" or "Hamlet."

There are palace intrigues, beddings and beheadings, and lots of well-staged theater. Rhys Ifans turns out to be the best surprise of all — excellent as the eminence of pathos, the 17th Earl of Oxford, who (in this telling) wielded "the" mighty pen and had the ink-stained hands to prove it. Screenwriter John Orloff ("A Mighty Heart") doesn't do half bad himself.
"William Shakespeare" — whoever he was — I think would probably be at least a little amused by "Anonymous." For amusing it is — along with bawdy, brazen, politically outrageous, plausible enough and occasionally graced with something close to Shakespearean cleverness in an absurdist sort of way.
To set things up, the film opens as if we're watching a current production in London's West End, an actor on stage in a single spotlight, setting up the Shakespeare mythology. It quickly dissolves into Shakespeare's time, richly rendered from the pomp and ceremony of the royal court to the mud and muck of 16th century London.
As imagined in "Anonymous," William Shakespeare was an illiterate actor, barely able to write his name, much less a sonnet, and an opportunist with an outsized ego, all of which actor Rafe Spall ("Shaun of the Dead," "Hot Fuzz") handles nicely. The real playwright and poet was Edward De Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford, who for complicated reasons needs a front man for his work. De Vere is played with great aplomb by Ifans, unrecognizable from his naked "Notting Hill" days, in fact unrecognizable from anything he's ever done. Let us just point out that he does Elizabethan aristocracy very well indeed.
A noted writing contemporary of Shakespeare's, Ben Jonson (Sebastian Armesto, excellent in his creative frustration), is the man De Vere ultimately entrusts with his plays and with carrying out what really is — if it is — one of the greatest ruses ever. For all the royal betrayals, one of the rather delicious subtexts is that fights between writers for literary supremacy are just as deadly as struggles for the crown.
In a neat bit of symmetry, Vanessa Redgrave plays Queen Elizabeth I in her waning days, and Redgrave's daughter Joely Richardson plays the monarch in her lusty younger years — in this telling, "the Virgin Queen" is so in name only. The queen's confidant, William Cecil (David Thewlis), and later his nefarious hunchback son Robert (Edward Hogg) are De Vere's nemeses, both bristling with disdain for the Lord Oxford's various obsessions.
There are many more earls and lads and ladies in waiting in this sprawling cast. There is a crown in the offing for someone if they can just keep their heads about them. And overriding it all is the anonymous bard — writing what he sees, writing what he fears and putting it out there as fast as he can to inflame and inform the masses. If the filmmakers have done nothing else, they have turned "the pen is mightier than the sword" from mere axiom into action hero.

One of the film's great pleasures is the way in which Orloff uses fragments of Shakespeare's plays to fit the moment and mood of the time — it's all ripped-from-the-headlines stuff. This is where Emmerich's special-effects history pays off smartly too. London — from its world of theater to its class divides — comes to life exquisitely on screen (so hats off to the production/costume crews).
Beyond the filmmakers' attention to detail, it's interesting to watch snippets of the plays — so literate and lofty and set inside a world theoretically known only to members of the royal court (thus how could Shakespeare have written Shakespeare?) — completely understood and embraced by those unwashed masses. Which raises the question….
Because the film keeps picking up threads of so many of its characters from childhood, adulthood and later years; because the palace intrigues are so complex; and because, let's face it, this is not Shakespeare, "Anonymous" occasionally comes apart at the seams. But amusing and diverting it is, and on any given day, amusing and diverting is enough.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A Jungian Interpretation of "The Emperor Jones"

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Editor: Frederick Wilkins
Suffolk University, Boston
Vol. IV, Nos. 1-2
May-September, 1980

While few of Eugene O'Neill's plays are staged as effectively as The Emperor Jones, none, however, receive interpretation as tentative and as indecisive. Travis Bogard's comment--that "What the action of Brutus Jones means, set apart from its stereotypical embellishments, is not entirely obvious"1-- is representative of the dilemma that the play presents to critical judgment. One may account for the dilemma by recognizing that O'Neill seldom exploited stage business so fully, allowing it such primary importance in carrying the play's meaning. Perhaps because this drama's meaning is lodged so completely within the stage setting and stage sounds, interpretations of it appear to be incomplete.
Engel maintains that "The Emperor Jones ... is a simple representation of psychological naturalism for its own sake, ingeniously contrived to a point where one must recognize the performance as a tour de force."2 John Henry Raleigh's excellent work hardly even treats the play, giving most of its attention to the misfortunes of Charles S. Gilpin, the creator of the role of Brutus Jones. Carpenter acknowledges Jung's Collective Unconscious as a paradigm for the play's action, but he avoids that perspective when he holds that Jones's chief error is his denial of Romantic Idealism as an operating base for human conduct.3 Falk, on the other hand, stresses Jung's Collective Unconscious as a perspective within which to approach the play, but, while seeing more than mere naturalism at work, confuses the meaning of the crocodile by confining it to being an incarnation of Jones's evil, emerging as an avenging God.4
There are several matters missing from this approach. For one, the crocodile is not viewed, in Falk's analysis, with reference to the tribe itself, nor is it readily understood as an incarnation of the tribe's evil made over in the form of an avenging God. Further, what is really lacking is a justification of the tribe's ancestral past being meaningful to Jones's experience as an individual at his own (much later) point in time. The struggle, as well as the fate, of the tribe is not seen as being continued and paralleled in the struggle of Jones. Primarily, the Crocodile God is not seen as that object of ideal belonging brought to sinister dimensions by superstitious, primitive religious ritual.
Common to most criticism is the failure to examine the palpable fear generated within Jones in the light of a more extensive application of Jung's Collective Unconscious. No one discounts the issue of fear in the play; in fact, fear, all too intensely present, actually determines the nature of stage setting and sound. Yet an understanding of the genesis of this fright might increase if one persisted in an analysis that allowed its perspective to be set for it by The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious. Most accounts do not utilize Jung's views to explain the nature of fear in both the personal and racial pasts of Jones. Little effort has been made to show Jones's quest as only a slight permutation of the ancestral tribe's quest--both being paradigms of the quests of all men. Yet the collective unconscious does supply a framework that allows the two different pasts to be interpreted in the light of a common referent. Certainly, it allows fear to be seen more clearly as deriving from one, single root condition.
In brief, Jung's observations stress the existence of a collective unconscious, an instinctual life below the ready access of consciousness, which all men share in common. Instincts of a sublunary nature might be the communally-shared fear of night, or the need for both a feminine and masculine influence in one's life in order to attain psychic wholeness. Instincts of a spiritual nature, however, come closer to O'Neill's purposes: such instincts as the need for a parentage of divine proportions, such as that embodied in the divine syzygies, or the need for a spiritual as well as a physical birth, or the need for a God.
These unconscious instincts, present in all men, seek successful expression at the conscious level. When allowed to find a continuous path up from unconscious life into conscious expression, the collective unconscious successfully releases an instinctual energy which becomes a source of exhilaration, strength, and personal unity--all properties of the Romantic unity of being after which an early O'Neill protagonist chased. Since it is constituted of energy, the instinctual life, once emerging complete and fulfilled, affords that inner harmony that allows for non-selfconsciousness, another important property of O'Neill's Romantic ideal. Naturally, the archetypal instincts, satisfied, do not provide the material for drama; certainly not for O'Neill's tragedies, centered as they are in struggle and quest. Thus, the successful expression of the archetypal instincts, for dramatic purposes, has to be aborted in order to set the terms for an O'Neillian tragic struggle.
With the Death of God, Jung affirms the disconnection of the archetypal instincts from their easy expression in conscious life. The ready outlets that religion supplied for the release of the collective unconscious instincts are no longer available. Jung's principal point--at least for consideration of The Emperor Jones--is the observation that the instinctual energies, robbed of ready release, do not dry up and dissipate; instead, they continue to exist in a repressed state and are forced to turn inward upon man, producing subsequent sieges of anxiety, fear, and projection. In Jung's words, "The archetype behind a religious idea has, like every instinct, its specific energy, which it does not lose even if the conscious mind ignores it."5 The often quoted letter of O'Neill's to George Jean Nathan reveals his sensitivity to Jung's stress on the survival of such instincts independent of a denied religious life. "The playwright today must dig at the roots of the sickness of today as he feels it--the death of the Old God and the failure of science and materialism to give any satisfying new one for the surviving primitive religious instinct to find a meaning for life in."6
The Emperor Jones is about both the black man's and the white man's attempts to satisfy the surviving religious instinct. The black man fails to satisfy his need to quell fear due to the religious ritual being superstitious in nature. And the white man, despite the fact that his conscious mind ignores the archetypal need for God, still tries, and fails, to conquer the fear of spiritual displacement because the modern surrogate for God, Money, is equally superstitious in nature.
The Emperor Jones, therefore, is really O'Neill's demonstration of how the black race has failed to achieve a continuity between unconscious, archetypal instincts and the conscious expression of those instincts. The terror of not belonging to self and of not belonging in a unity with all being borders on the either/or terrors of Puritan election. For this reason, the black man is an inheritor of fear, of a terror that is ongoing from his racial past even into his American present. But the fear urges, in fact demands, that he make his attempts at belonging. Unfortunately for Jones, his attempts to satisfy the archetypal instincts must be conducted in a modern setting whose only equivalent for the black man's Crocodile God is now Money. Even as the tribe sought to become one with the ultimate power that sinewed the universe, so Jones attempts to anneal himself to that single power that makes all life move the way it does. Money, in the modern setting, is the ultimate power that sinews the earth; its possession makes one master of life and, therefore, master over fear.
While it may be reversing the order of the play, it is probably easier to reveal its Jungian parallels by dealing with the earliest point in historical time, Scene Seven, the racial scapegoat sacrifice. The sacrifice exists as a ritual intended by the primitive blacks to fulfill primitive religious aspirations. So that the will of that power which pervades existence be made to cohere with the tribe's will for itself, the human sacrifice is offered to a specific agent who either symbolizes or possesses divine power. Jones is offered to the crocodile so that the tribe may be reconciled with a spiritual father and a God. Typical of a ritual offering, the wished-for result is to harmonize the deity's will with man's will so that the divine power now accords with human needs. Divine power, then, is to inhere within the tribe and its individual members. To exist within power and yet have that power operate as pure benefice is the ritual's aim. This, in effect, is the tribe expressing its archetypal instinct to belong. Succeeding in this, the tribe would possess its own soul by identifying its aims and intentions with a transcendent object. An imperturbable spiritual power existing as a dimension of its inner life would make for the tribe's controlling experience.
At this point, O'Neill's accent on superstition can be seen in its full importance. Superstition pervades the play. It opens with Jones's position, established by superstition, being threatened by the tribe's superstition. The whole movement of the play is within the framing device of one superstition replacing another, whether it be Lem's replacing Jones's or the white man's replacing the black man's. In his ancient, tribal superstition, the black man does not secure a belonging whereby he would be master of his own psychic and spiritual state. The tribe's superstition subordinates man to nature, and, rather than achieving the ideal independence of soul so necessary to O'Neill's characters, the black man becomes dependent upon the vagaries of nature. Weather changes, crop failures, the death of offspring: these force a reconsideration of the tribe's successfully belonging to God, to the cosmos, and to itself. The continuum between unconscious instincts and conscious expression of those instincts, though satisfied by the tribe's ritual, is resolved erratically. Fear is never eliminated.
At this point in historical time, the black race is absorbed into white civilization, which has its own formula to appease the archetypal instincts. The aggressive materialism reflected in slave trading gives witness to the type of power the white man seeks in order to quell fear. Thus the black man, his archetypal instincts still alive in the modern setting, is made subject, in that setting, to others who believe they have the answers to belonging. The black man's Behind Life force, aggravated and internalized, becomes enamoured of a substitute deity offering a newer version of connection between the unconscious instincts and their conscious evocation. To his physical slavery is added the slavery to the proposition that the basic issues of life are settled by a materialist solution. The belief that they can possess their own souls through the possession of things outside of it is, for O'Neill, the white men's answer to the problem of belonging. The black man, in his spiritually weakened state, is made the victim of those who, under the illusion of satisfying their instinctual life, seek physical power and depend on it to sustain their illusion.
Jones sees the white world as pursuing an aim common to the black race--a participation in power and a harmony with the laws of the universe--that the white man seeks in his materialist belonging. But an essential distinction lies in the fact that, while the black man sought an internal power, a spiritual power, the white man understands his power in a purely material, external, physical sense. For the whites, then, worldly goods and their benefits become the surrogate objects of belonging through which spiritual satiety is, presumably, made possible.
Of course, Jung's position denies that these objects will ever serve satisfactorily as substitutes for the real religious objects that harmonize unconscious life with conscious life. Wealth can only be an illusory solution to satisfying the archetypal instincts. But for a time, perhaps for two hundred years or more, the capitalist appeal mesmerizes with its power and its prospect of self-sufficency. This explains the setting bathed in white and in light in the opening scene. As Michael Hinden notes, "The entire setting is a projected wish fulfillment of Jones's power craving self."7 Coupled with Jones's resplendent, regal attire, summoning the images of power, are the whiteness and light that illustrate the presumed clarity of purpose and the personal destiny possessed by Jones in his dedication to the white materialist ideal. The subsequent forest gloom, however, announces the tentative and illusory nature of this new, materialist resolution of the unconscious life-conscious life continuum. Jones's fulfillment of the archetypal instincts is as illusory as the ancient tribe's failed attempt.
Immediately Jones's material mastery of life is challenged: the formless fears emerge. And his fears intensify as his sense of spiritual direction, founded on a false God, diminishes. As the accouterments of power are stripped away, Jones's near-naked self is vivid testimonial to the need to belong to something within self rather than to something external to self. Jones moves from the light of "salvation" to the terror and darkness of "damnation." Having no satisfying state of spiritual belonging surviving from his roots in his ancestral past, Jones has pursued an equally bankrupt belonging by imitating the white man's erroneous solution to the unconscious archetypal instincts' expression. That fear is so quickly and so completely precipitated in Jones is a full representation of the Jungian picture of fear when man's unconscious instincts are internalized and given no conscious objectification.
This not-belonging-to-self, made inevitable by not belonging to the appropriate external, eternal object, is what the fear motif of The Emperor Jones is all about. With no true source of spirituality from his past to satisfy belonging, and with nothing to satisfy spiritual needs in his present but an impotent materialism, Jones is a representative of many black men--disenfranchised from purposeful life throughout their histories. The power that true belonging to a divinity predicates becomes, in terms of the white man's materialist belonging, a naked, raw, unmediated physical power symbolized by slave ships, slave sales, chain gangs, and weapons--all vestiges of criminal purpose.
Obviously, power, in the white man's sense, does not derive' from any internal state of being. Exterior condition is the exclusive preoccupation of white civilization. Since the white world disallows any alternative deity to Money, Jones has no choice but to accept the general precepts of white civilization and to define in his own person their failed content. Even in his flight, he fails to rely on inner strength to cope with fear, and, in exhausting white civilization's trusted forms of power, represented by the gun and the bullets, he prompts the magnification of fear in himself, a fear finally uncontrollable due to the now-absolute disconnection of unconscious instincts from satisfying implementation at the conscious level. In this absolute failure, Jones is merely describing the absolute failure of any surrogate God to supply secular resolution to the archetypal instincts of the collective unconscious.
In the play's entirety, O'Neill does not represent any time when such successful concord was extant. He closes the play still asserting that the black man's struggle, generally, has been far more close to the truth of the human condition than the white man's struggle has been. Even if superstitious, the black race's quest, at least, seeks to identify with a transcendent power. Lem's superstition renders Smithers' perception pale.
--Patrick J. Nolan
1 Travis Bogard, Contour in Time (N.Y.: Oxford U. Press, 1972), p. 140.
2 Edwin A. Engel, The Haunted Heroes of Eugene O'Neill (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard U. Press, 1953), p. 49.
3 Frederic I. Carpenter, Eugene O'Neill (N.Y.: Twayne, 1964), p. 94.
4 Doris Falk, Eugene O'Neill and the Tragic Tension (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers U. Press, 1958), p. 69.
5 C. G. Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, 2nd ed. (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton U. Press, 1968), p. 63.
6 George Jean Nathan, quoted by Joseph Wood Krutch in the "Introduction" to Eugene O'Neill's Nine Plays (N.Y.: Modern Library, 1941), p. xvii.
7 Michael Hinden, "The Emperor Jones: O'Neill, Neitzsche, and the American Past," The Eugene O'Neill Newsletter (Jan., 1980), p. 4.

© Copyright 1999-2007

Eugene O'Neill

Eugene O'Neill
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Eugene O'Neill

Portrait of O'Neill by Alice Boughton
BornEugene Gladstone O'Neill
October 16, 1888(1888-10-16)
New York City, US
DiedNovember 27, 1953(1953-11-27) (aged 65)Boston, Massachusetts, US
NationalityUnited States
Notable award(s)Nobel Prize in Literature (1936)Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1920, 1922, 1928, 1957)
Spouse(s)Kathleen Jenkins (1909–1912)
Agnes Boulton (1918–1929)
Carlotta Monterey (1929–1953)
Eugene Gladstone O'Neill (October 16, 1888 – November 27, 1953) was an American playwright and Nobel laureate in Literature. His poetically titled plays were among the first to introduce into American drama techniques of realism earlier associated with Russian playwright Anton Chekhov, Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen, and Swedish playwright August Strindberg. His plays were among the first to include speeches in American vernacular and involve characters on the fringes of society, where they struggle to maintain their hopes and aspirations, but ultimately slide into disillusionment and despair. O'Neill wrote only one well-known comedy (Ah, Wilderness!).[1][2] Nearly all of his other plays involve some degree of tragedy and personal pessimism.


Early years

O'Neill was born in a Broadway hotel room in Longacre Square (now Times Square), in the Barrett Hotel. The site is now a Starbucks (1500 Broadway, Northeast corner of 43rd & Broadway); a commemorative plaque is posted on the outside wall with the inscription: "Eugene O'Neill, October 16, 1888 ~ November 27, 1953 America's greatest playwright was born on this site then called Barrett Hotel, Presented by Circle in the Square."[3]
He was the son of Irish immigrant actor James O'Neill and Mary Ellen Quinlan. Because of his father's profession, O'Neill was sent to a Catholic boarding school where he found his only solace in books. O'Neill spent his summers in New London, Connecticut. After being suspended from Princeton University, he spent several years at sea, during which he suffered from depression and alcoholism. O'Neill's parents and elder brother Jamie (who drank himself to death at the age of 45) died within three years of one another, not long after he had begun to make his mark in the theater. Despite his depression he had a deep love for the sea, and it became a prominent theme in many of his plays, several of which are set onboard ships like the ones that he worked on.


O'Neill's first play, Bound East for Cardiff, premiered at this theatre on a wharf in Provincetown, Massachusetts.
After his experience in 1912–13 at a sanatorium where he was recovering from tuberculosis, he decided to devote himself full-time to writing plays (the events immediately prior to going to the sanatorium are dramatized in his masterpiece, Long Day's Journey into Night). O'Neill had previously been employed by the New London Telegraph, writing poetry as well as reporting.
During the 1910s O'Neill was a regular on the Greenwich Village literary scene, where he also befriended many radicals, most notably Communist Labor Party founder John Reed. O'Neill also had a brief romantic relationship with Reed's wife, writer Louise Bryant. O'Neill was portrayed by Jack Nicholson in the 1981 film Reds about the life of John Reed.
His involvement with the Provincetown Players began in mid-1916. O'Neill is said to have arrived for the summer in Provincetown with "a trunk full of plays." Susan Glaspell describes what was probably the first ever reading of Bound East for Cardiff which took place in the living room of Glaspell and her husband George Cram Cook's home on Commercial Street, adjacent to the wharf (pictured) that was used by the Players for their theater. Glaspell writes in The Road to the Temple, "So Gene took Bound East for Cardiff out of his trunk, and Freddie Burt read it to us, Gene staying out in the dining-room while reading went on. He was not left alone in the dining-room when the reading had finished."[4] The Provincetown Players performed many of O'Neill's early works in their theaters both in Provincetown and on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village. Some of these early plays began downtown and then moved to Broadway.
O'Neill's first published play, Beyond the Horizon, opened on Broadway in 1920 to great acclaim, and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. His first major hit was The Emperor Jones, which ran on Broadway in 1920 and obliquely commented on the U.S. occupation of Haiti that was a topic of debate in that year's presidential election.[5] 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!,[2][6] a wistful re-imagining of his youth as he wished it had been. In 1936 he received the Nobel Prize for Literature. After a ten-year pause, O'Neill's now-renowned play The Iceman Cometh was produced in 1946. The following year's A Moon for the Misbegotten failed, and did not gain recognition as being among his best works until decades later.
He was also part of the modern movement to revive the classical heroic mask from ancient Greek theatre and Japanese Noh theatre in some of his plays, such as The Great God Brown and Lazarus Laughed.[7]
O'Neill was very interested in the Faust theme, especially in the 1920s.[8]

 Family life

O'Neill was married to Kathleen Jenkins from October 2, 1909 to 1912, during which time they had one son, Eugene O'Neill, Jr. (1910–1950). In 1917, O'Neill met Agnes Boulton, a successful writer of commercial fiction, and they married on April 12, 1918. The years of their marriage—during which the couple had two children, Shane and Oona—are described vividly in her 1958 memoir Part of a Long Story. They divorced in 1929, after O'Neill abandoned Boulton and the children for the actress Carlotta Monterey (born San Francisco, California, December 28, 1888; died Westwood, New Jersey, November 18, 1970). O'Neill and Carlotta married less than a month after he officially divorced his previous wife.[9]
O'Neill in the mid-1930s. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1936
In 1929, O'Neill and Monterey moved to the Loire Valley in central France, where they lived in the Château du Plessis in Saint-Antoine-du-Rocher, Indre-et-Loire. During the early 1930s they returned to the United States and lived in Sea Island, Georgia, at a house called Casa Genotta. He moved to Danville, California in 1937 and lived there until 1944. His house there, Tao House, is today the Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site.
In their first years together, Monterey organized O'Neill's life, enabling him to devote himself to writing. She later became addicted to potassium bromide, and the marriage deteriorated, resulting in a number of separations. O'Neill needed her, and she needed him. Although they separated several times, they never divorced.
Actress Carlotta Monterey in Plymouth Theatre production of O'Neill's The Hairy Ape, 1922. Monterey later became the playwright's third wife.
In 1943, O'Neill disowned his daughter Oona for marrying the English actor, director and producer Charlie Chaplin when she was 18 and Chaplin was 54. He never saw Oona again.
He also had distant relationships with his sons, Eugene, Jr., a Yale classicist who suffered from alcoholism and committed suicide in 1950 at the age of 40, and Shane O'Neill, a heroin addict who also committed suicide.
ChildDate of birthDate of deathNotes
Eugene O'Neill, Jr19101950
Shane O'Neill19181977
Oona O'Neill14/05/192527/09/1991

 Illness and death

Grave of Eugene O'Neill
O'Neill stamp issued in 1967
After suffering from multiple health problems (including depression and alcoholism) over many years, O'Neill ultimately faced a severe Parkinsons-like tremor in his hands which made it impossible for him to write during the last 10 years of his life; he had tried using dictation but found himself unable to compose in that way. While at Tao House, O’Neill had intended to write a cycle of 11 plays chronicling an American family since the 1800s. Only two of these, A Touch of the Poet and More Stately Mansions were ever completed. As his health worsened, O’Neill lost inspiration for the project and wrote three largely autobiographical plays, The Iceman Cometh, Long Day's Journey Into Night, and A Moon for the Misbegotten. He managed to complete Moon for the Misbegotten in 1943, just before leaving Tao House and losing his ability to write. Drafts of many other uncompleted plays were destroyed by Carlotta at Eugene’s request.
O'Neill died in Room 401 of the Sheraton Hotel on Bay State Road in Boston, on November 27, 1953, at the age of 65. As he was dying, he, in a barely audible whisper, spoke his last words: "I knew it. I knew it. Born in a hotel room, and God damn it, died in a hotel room."[10] The building would later become the Shelton Hall dormitory at Boston University. There is an urban legend perpetuated by students that O'Neill's spirit haunts the room and dormitory. A revised analysis of his autopsy report shows that, contrary to the previous diagnosis, he did not have Parkinson's disease, but a late-onset cerebellar cortical atrophy.[11]
Dr. Harry Kozol, the lead prosecuting expert of the Patty Hearst trial, treated O'Neill during these last years of ailment. He also was present for the death and announced the fact to the public.[12]
He is interred in the Forest Hills Cemetery in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood.
Although his written instructions had stipulated that it not be made public until 25 years after his death, in 1956 Carlotta arranged for his autobiographical masterpiece Long Day's Journey Into Night to be published, and produced on stage to tremendous critical acclaim and won the Pulitzer Prize in 1957. This last play is widely considered to be his finest. Other posthumously-published works include A Touch of the Poet (1958) and More Stately Mansions (1967).
The United States Postal Service honored O'Neill with a Prominent Americans series (1965–1978) $1 postage stamp.

 Museums and collections

O'Neill's home in New London, Monte Cristo Cottage, was made a National Historic Landmark in 1971. His home in Danville, California, near San Francisco, was preserved as the Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site in 1976.
Connecticut College maintains the Louis Sheaffer Collection, consisting of material collected by the O'Neill biographer. The principal collection of O'Neill papers is at Yale University. The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, Connecticut fosters the development of new plays under his name.


 Full-length plays

 One-act plays

The Glencairn Plays, all of which feature characters on the fictional ship Glencairn -- filmed together as The Long Voyage Home:
  • Bound East for Cardiff, 1914
  • In The Zone, 1917
  • The Long Voyage Home, 1917
  • Moon of the Caribbees, 1918
Other one-act plays include:
  • A Wife for a Life, 1913
  • The Web, 1913
  • Thirst, 1913
  • Recklessness, 1913
  • Warnings, 1913
  • Fog, 1914
  • Abortion, 1914
  • The Movie Man: A Comedy, 1914[2][13]
  • The Sniper, 1915
  • Before Breakfast, 1916
  • Ile, 1917
  • The Rope, 1918
  • Shell Shock, 1918
  • The Dreamy Kid, 1918
  • Where the Cross Is Made, 1918
  • Exorcism 1919 [14]

Other works

  • The Last Will and Testament of An Extremely Distinguished Dog, 1940. Written to comfort Carlotta as their "child" Blemie was approaching his death in December 1940.[15]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ The New York Times, August 25, 2003: 'Next year Playwrights Theater will present an unproduced O'Neill comedy, Now I Ask You, a comic spin on Ibsen's Hedda Gabler."
  2. ^ a b c The Eugene O'Neill Foundation newsletter: "Now I Ask You, along with The Movie Man, ... is the only surviving comedy from O’Neill’s early years."
  3. ^ Arthur Gelb (1957-10-17). "O'Neill's Birthplace Is Marked By Plaque at Times Square Site". The New York Times: p. 35. Retrieved 2008-11-13.
  4. ^ Susan Glaspell, (1927), The Road to the Temple, Frederick A. Stokes, New York, 2nd ed. 1941, p. 255
  5. ^ Renda, Mary (2001). Taking Haiti: Military Occupation and the Culture of U.S. Imperialism. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. pp. 198–212. ISBN 0807849383.
  6. ^ The New York Times, Aug. 25, 2003: 'Next year Playwrights Theater will present an unproduced O'Neill comedy, Now I Ask You, a comic spin on Ibsen's Hedda Gabler."
  7. ^ Smith, Susan Harris (1984). Masks in Modern Drama. Berkeley: University of California Press. pp. 66–70, 106–08, 131–36, index S124. ISBN 0520050959.
  8. ^ Floyd, Virginia (1985). "Chapter 2". Eugene O'Neill: A New Assessment. New York: F. Ungar Publishing. p. 180. ISBN 0804422060.
  9. ^ "Eugene O'Neill Wed to Miss Monterey". The New York Times: p. 9. 1929-07-24. Retrieved 2008-11-13.
  10. ^ Sheaffer, Louis. O'Neill: Son and Artist. Little, Brown & Co., 1973 ISBN 0-316-78337-4
  11. ^ "Eugene O'Neill - What Went Wrong?". Neuroscience for Kids. April 22, 2000. Retrieved 2009-02-12.
  12. ^ "Eugene O'Neill Dies of Pneumonia; Playwright, 65, Won Nobel Prize". The New York Times. Retrieved August 13, 2011.
  13. ^ Title as in original typescript and title page of Modern Library edition
  14. ^ ""Exorcism". Yale U. Library Acquires Lost Play by Eugene O'Neill. Chronicle of Higher Education. October 19, 2011. Retrieved October 22, 2011.
  15. ^ O'Neill, Eugene; Adrienne Yorinks (1999). The Last Will and Testament of an Extremely Distinguished Dog (First ed.). New York: Henry Holt and Co. ISBN 0805061703. Retrieved 2008-11-16.

[edit] Further reading

  • O'Neill, Eugene; Bogard, Travis (1988). Complete Plays 1913–1920. The Library of America. 40. New York: Literary Classics. ISBN 9780940450486.
  • O'Neill, Eugene; Bogard, Travis (1988). Complete Plays 1920–1931. The Library of America. 41. New York: Literary Classics. ISBN 9780940450493.
  • O'Neill, Eugene; Bogard, Travis (1988). Complete Plays 1932–1943. The Library of America. 42. New York: Literary Classics. ISBN 9780940450509.
  • Black, Stephen A. (2002). Eugene O'Neill: Beyond Mourning and Tragedy. Yale University press. ISBN 0300093993.
  • Clark, Barrett H. (November 1932). "Aeschylus and O'Neill". The English Journal (The English Journal, Vol. 21, No. 9) XXI (9): 699–710. doi:10.2307/804473. JSTOR 804473.
  • Floyd, Virginia (editor) (1979). Eugene O'Neill: A World View. Frederick Unger. ISBN 0804422044.
  • Floyd, Virginia (1985). The Plays of Eugene O'Neill: A New Assessment. Frederick Unger. ISBN 0804422060.
  • Gelb, Arthur & Barbara (2000). O'Neill: Life with Monte Christo. Applause/Penguin Putnam. ISBN 0-399-14912-0.
  • Sheaffer, Louis (2002 [1968]). O'Neill Volume I: Son and Playwright. Cooper Square Press. ISBN 0815412436.
  • Sheaffer, Louis (1999 [1973]). O'Neill Volume II: Son and Artist. Cooper Square Press. ISBN 0815412444.
  • Wainscott, Ronald H. (1988). Staging O'Neill: The Experimental Years. Yale University Press. ISBN 0-300-04152-7.
  • Winther, Sophus Keith (1934). Eugene O'Neill: A Critical Study. New York: Random House. OCLC 900356.
  • Clark, Barrett H. (1926). Eugene O'Neill: The Man and His Plays. Dover Publications, Inc. New York.

[edit] External links

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Warren S. Stone
Cover of Time Magazine
March 17, 1924
Succeeded by
Raymond Poincaré
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