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A Good Place To Start

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Mourning Becomes Electra 1

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Categorization is odious. There is tremendous overlap among genres. These pigeonholes are offered only as a convenience.

Eugene O'Neill

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Please consider recommending where to begin reading this author, or where not to. A few words about your experiences reading this author and why you make the recommendations you do will be helpful to other users. If you are the author or have studied this author extensively, please say so.

Marian November 7th, 2006 12:28 PM PST

According to the Powell's website, "Eugene O'Neill's autobiographical play A LONG DAY'S JOURNEY INTO NIGHT is regarded as his finest work." Of his sad plays, it's probably the best for actors -- more good meaty scenes to perform and less experimental asides. Ditto A MOON FOR THE MISBEGOTTEN.

By contrast, STRANGE INTERLUDE is a howl to read and a nightmare to perform. I heard Glenda Jackson talking about it, and she said there's a state direction in which her character is supposed to have her eyes change color. "Which of course I totally failed to do," she added.

Whatever you start with, remember that O'Neill was an innovator for the stage, and was breaking new ground. THE HAIRY APE was, I believe, an exploration of how script, set, and movement can create an original experience -- it wasn't meant to be a purely literary piece.

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Snipped from the bio at http://www.eoneill.com/biography.htm :

1888-1953 American dramatist and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1936. O'Neill was born into the theatre. His father, James O'Neill, was a successful touring actor. ,,, spent his early childhood in hotel rooms, on trains, and backstage. … steeped in the peasant Irish Catholicism of his father and the more genteel, mystical piety of his mother, two influences, often in dramatic conflict, which account for the high sense of drama and the struggle with God and religion that distinguish O'Neill's plays.

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