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Editor: Frederick Wilkins
Suffolk University, Boston

Vol. IX, No. 1
Spring, 1985



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NINA FACES LIFE! Glenda Jackson as Nina Leeds in the London production of Strange Interlude, whose Broadway transplantation is reviewed, in this issue. Photo by Zoe Dominic.

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Alcoholism, drug addiction, and a son's struggle to free himself from the stifling coils of his mother's domination: hardly the ideal ingredients for celebrating the start of the Newsletter's ninth year and volume! But, glum as it is, this issue's special "focus" section--a result of the fortuitous confluence of scholarly contributions--is an important and revealing one. Dependency, in various forms, was a major part of O'Neill's life and of the art that he forged from his experiences as son, brother and sometime inebriate. The contributors make abundantly clear that he knew whereof he wrote, delineating patterns of individual and group behavior whose on-target accuracy has subsequently been borne out by such clinical and psychological studies as those cited by Bloom, Pond and Black. Einenkel makes only tangential reference to drug or alcohol addiction; but his analysis of the four-act battle between Edmund and Mary Tyrone introduces another, subtler kind of dependency that threatens, until it is overcome, the former's achievement of autonomy. Here, too, O'Neill knew whereof he wrote, as Einenkel makes clear in his telling use of biographical detail to show how Edmund both is and is not Eugene O'Neill. Purists and new critics" who decry such biographical and clinical emphases as heretically paraliterary are advised to note how much light the assembled critics throw on the plays they treat, and how much value O'Neill's depiction of various dependencies can have for readers and playgoers threatened by the same or comparable maladies. If, after 26 pages, readers are still inclined to tip a congratulatory tankard Newsletterward, the gesture will meet with a grateful editorial clink!

Louis Sheaffer's welcome and rightfully indignant rebuttal of anecdotal inaccuracies about O'Neill committed by Donald Hall and Bennett Cerf is more transitional than a full-fledged part of the "dependency" section. I included it there only because the first refuted anecdote involves inordinate inebriation. Mr. Sheaffer, like O'Neill, knows where-of he writes, and his article deserves to stand by itself.

The rest of the current issue is far happier: George C. White's narrative of his adventures while directing Anna Christie in Beijing--a fuller version of his New York Times report that was abstracted in the last issue; reports on five excellent new books, and reviews of three theatrical productions, plus the regular assortment of news notes that some readers prefer to the longer, more scholarly parts of each issue. They are right, of course, to expect news to predominate in a newsletter; the publication has long outgrown the title to which its founding editor parentally clings. But the news is still there, albeit at the end, and those who eschew longer exegeses can turn to it immediately. I trust that the Newsletter has grown sufficiently to accommodate a variety of constituencies, and I welcome suggestions for a new title if readers feel that a change is in order.

Several fascinating articles are being readied for the Summer-Fall issue, whose major item will be an essay by Donald Gallup on the O'Neill collection at Yale. Also featured will be advance word about the conference on "Eugene O'Neill--the Later Years," which will be held at Suffolk University in Boston early in the summer of 1986. I am eager to hear from O'Neillians who are interested in participating as panelists, paper presenters, session chairs, recorders and performers. My dream--for that's all it is at present--is for a four-day format much like the last one: an all-day research conference on Thursday, at which invited O'Neill scholars from around the world can compare notes, share insights, and pre-pare for the 1988 centennial; a banquet and keynote address on Thursday evening; daytime panels, paper sessions and films, open to all, on Friday and Saturday; an evening of scenes from the later plays, performed by renowned O'Neill actors, on Friday (repeated on Saturday); more sessions, as needed, on Sunday morning, followed by a noontime bye-bye brunch like the one that brought the 1984 conference to such a convivial close. Dates and more details will appear, as I said, in the next issue; but I urge all whose appetites are already whetted to let me know as soon as possible what part they would like to have in the proceedings.

I close with sincere thanks to all who have helped the Newsletter grow in stature and scope during its first eight years of existence. I had no idea, when starting the venture, of the warm friendships and pleasurable associations it would engender. My very best wishes--tardy, as ever, but sincere--for a happy and profitable 1985! --FCW

The Eugene O'Neill Newsletter, Vol IX, No. 1. ISSN: 0733-0456. Copyright (c) 1985 by the Eugene O'Neill Newsletter. Copyright 2011 by Harley J. Hammerman. Editor: Frederick C. Wilkins. Assoc. Editor: Marshall Brooks. Subscriptions: $10/year for individuals in U.S. & Canada, $15/year for libraries, institutions and all overseas subscribers. Only one-year subscriptions are accepted. Members of the Eugene O'Neill Society receive subscriptions as part of their annual dues. Back issues available @ $5 each. Address: The Eugene O'Neill Newsletter, Department of English, Suffolk University, Boston, MA 02114 U.S.A.


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