7/10/09 - tennessee williams

In today's excerpt - the personal notebooks of Tennessee Williams (1911-1983), the American playwright who won the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, for A Streetcar Named Desire in 1948 and for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 1955. In addition, The Glass Menagerie (1945) and The Night of the Iguana (1961) received New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards. His 1952 play, The Rose Tattoo received the Tony Award for best play:

"The notebooks of Tennessee Williams span the years 1936 to 1981, the period from a few weeks before Williams' twenty-fifth birthday to almost two years before his death at age seventy-one, in February 1983. The thirty known journals are a collection of unremarkable-looking notebooks, in which Williams recorded his daily thoughts and emotions. Much of his writing is casual, spontaneous, and at times confessional. ... Unlike his letters, where he modulated his tone and style to suit the recipient, the journals reveal Williams' authentic voice—genuine and unadorned. ...

"Williams: Keeping a journal is a lonely man's habit, it betrays the vices of introspection and social withdrawal, even a kind of Narcissism ... It has certain things to recommend it, it keeps a recorded continuity between his past and present selves, it gives him the comforting reassurance that shocks, defeats, disappointments are all snowed under by the pages and pages of new experience that still keep flaking down over him as be continues through time, and promises that this comforting snowfall of obliteration will go right on as long as be himself keeps going. ...

"Wednesday, December 3, 1941

Wednesday Night.

Very blue. Very down hearted. Thoughts of despair in my feverish head. Very sick last night. Raging fever and pounding heart. The grippe I suppose. Tormented till daybreak. Then felt asleep and woke much improved, fever gone, but weak. Spent the day walking idly about Tampa—wound up at a movie, the usual anesthesia. Visited a bar with plump child-like B-girls & soldiers—called 'The Broken Mirror'.

Home & read a detective story account of the bestial treatment of prisoners in Alcatraz—which made me feel even worse. I feel helpless, unprotected. This little moratorium seems to have stretched its limit and I have written no long play nor do I have a reliable idea for one—and my eye looks worse and I am unbearably shy and had no luck at sex for several weeks.

So I feel wretched & frightened, more than usual.

Tomorrow I will pack off to St. Pete and the beach—God be merciful. Truly. -

En Avant. ...

"Spring 1979

"Did I die by my own hand or was I destroyed slowly and brutally by a conspiratorial group? There is probably no clear cut answer. When was there ever such an answer to any question related to the individual human fate?

Perhaps I was never meant to exist at all, but if I hadn't, a number of my created beings would have been denied their passionate existence.

This season I purchased a home on a lovely residential street in Key West and removed my sister Rose from Stony Lodge and placed her there: perhaps mistakenly, it remains to be seen. But will I remain to see it?

Today I must leave for New Orleans for medical examination and possibly for surgery: the chronic disease of my gastro-intestinal system has, for several weeks now, flared up alarmingly and there is no true relief. I suffer no pain. But I am observing my life and the approaching conclusion of my life and I see a long, long stretch of desolation about me, now at the end.

Or will I yet survive? In what condition, under what circumstance? ...

The best I can say for myself is that I worked like hell. ..."


Margaret Bradham Thornton


Tennessee Williams Notebooks


Yale University Press


Copyright 2006 by the University of the South


v, ix, 267, 739
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