Notebooks

Tennessee Williams, Author, Margaret Bradham Thornton, Editor
Tennessee Williams, Author, Margaret Bradham Thornton, Editor . Yale Univ. $40 (828p) ISBN 978-0-300-11682-3
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This magnificent tome is a treasure trove for Williams scholars and fans. Independent scholar Thornton not only tracked down Williams's early short stories and poems but often presents photo reproductions of the original manuscripts. A talented sleuth, Thornton cross-checks journal entries with letters Williams wrote to friends, offers minibiographies of people mentioned in the journals and has found photos of most of the cast of characters at the time they were in touch with Williams. Her detective work is fully one half of this massive book. (Williams's journal entries, from 1936 to 1958 and 1979 to 1981 run on the right-hand pages opposite Thornton's annotations.) As the playwright, according to Thornton, "modulated his tone and style to suit the recipient" of his voluminous correspondence, his journal reveals his authentic voice. These entries primarily showcase the budding artist who was plagued with insecurities, increasing drug dependency and an equally destructive addiction to celebrity, but his loyalty to his work remained so strong that he was still able to write The Glass Menagerie , A Streetcar Named Desire , Summer and Smoke , The Rose Tattoo and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof all between 1945 and 1955—the period that reflects the bulk of these notebooks.. Williams's dramatic life may be familiar to many, but thanks to Thornton's superb scholarship, his interior conflicts, motivations and drive are at last revealed. Photos. (Jan. 30)

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