Summer 1952 • Vol. XIV No. 3 Nonfiction |

Trying to like O’Neill

It would be nice to like O'Neill. He is the leading American playwright; damn him, damn all; and damning all is a big responsibility. It is tempting to damn all the rest and make of O'Neill an exception. He is an exception in so many ways. He has cared less for temporary publicity than for lasting and deserved fame. When he was successful on Broadway he was not sucked in by Broadway. The others have vanity; O'Neill has self-respect. No dickering with the play doctors in Manhattan hotel rooms. He had the guts to go away and the guts to stay away. O'Neill has always had the grownup writer's concern for that continuity and development which must take place quietly and from within. In a theatre which chiefly attracts idiots and crooks he was a model of good sense and honor. In 1946 he was raised to the American peerage: his picture was on the cover of Time magazine. The national playwright was interviewed by the nationalist press. It was his chance to talk rot and be liked for it. I

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By Eric Bentley

It would be nice to like O'Neill. He is the leading American playwright; damn him, damn all; and damning all is a big responsibility. It is tempting to damn all […]

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