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Editor: Frederick Wilkins
Suffolk University, Boston

Vol. VII, No. 3
Winter, 1983

 

IN THIS ISSUE: 


EDITOR'S FOREWORD: SOMETHING OLD, SOMETHING BORROWED

It is a joy to reprint "Tomorrow," O'Neill's only published short story, which has waited too long for republication since its appearance in the June 1917 issue of The Seven Arts; and to follow it with the first half of Louis Sheaffer's correction of the biographical record, which first appeared in Comparative Drama, and which provides, on p. 20, an account of the events that inspired the 1917 narrative. Concurrent presentation of the pearl and the grain of sand is the happiest of accidents--and a particularly appropriate one, coming on the eve of the March 1984 conference on O'Neill's "early years." The Newsletter is proud to conclude its seventh year and volume so grandly, and to precede "Tomorrow" with a cover illustration by associate editor Marshall Brooks that skillfully combines the story's three major objects.

"TOMORROW," Marshall Brooks' tribute to O'Neill's short story that herewith returns to print after 66 years.

 

O'Neill sent the longhand manuscript of the story to Seven Arts editor Waldo Frank from Provincetown on March 26, 1917, identifying it as the work "about which Louise Bryant spoke to you," and expressing the hope that it "may prove to be something in the line of what you are looking for." Evidently it was, with reservations, for a second letter, of March 31, with which O'Neill returned the manuscript, now much shortened and pencil-pruned, speaks of "the imperfections you mentioned in your letter"--especially a substantial postscript which O'Neill, admitting that it "goes overboard," had deleted. ""I hope I have sharpened the story," he writes. ""At least I have shortened it about a thousand words."

The second letter's explanation of the now-removed ending offers insight into O'Neill's creative plans at the time of writing. "When I first wrote the story," he tells Frank, "I planned it as the first of a series of Tommy the Priest's yarns in which the story-teller was to hog most of the limelight--a sort of Conrad's Marlow--and once I had that idea I couldn't let go and it rode me into the anti-climax."

The present reprinting follows the Seven Arts text exactly, retaining three errors--two of them minor (uncertainy for uncertainty on p. 5, and presentment for presentiment on p. 10), and the third (on p. 9) more arresting: the description of Jimmy's typewriter as "grey with a layer of long-accumulated lust"! But Freudians may keep their seats; the error is doubtless due to the story's having been set from manuscript. The challenges posed by O'Neill's handwriting, even early, are legend. As he explained in the March 31 letter, "my typewriter has not come yet; also there is no typist in this hamlet; also, if there were, I could not pay her! The last reason having it, I remain, Apologetically Yours, Eugene G. O'Neill." (How is it, then, one wonders, that the previous letter, on the 26th, was typed?!)

The story itself needs no apology. From its inspired first sentence to the abrupt thud of its altered conclusion, it is a gem, albeit a minor one. I hope it provides pleasure, and welcome readers' responses. Happy New Year!

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[Acknowledgements. O'Neill's letters to Waldo Frank are quoted with the permission of the Rare Book Collection, Van Pelt Library, Univ. of Pennsylvania, which houses the Waldo Frank Collection. "Tomorrow" is reprinted with the permission of the Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale Univ. Louis Sheaffer's essay, which is divided between this issue and the next, is reprinted with the permission of the author and the editors of Comparative Drama, in which it first appeared (Fall 1983, pp. 201-232). Many thanks to all of the above for their kind cooperation. --Ed.]


The Eugene O'Neill Newsletter, Vol. VII, No. 3. Copyright (c) by the Eugene O'Neill Newsletter. Copyright 2011 by Harley J. Hammerman. Editor: Frederick C. Wilkins. Assoc. Editor: Marshall Brooks. Subscriptions: $6/year for individuals in U.S. & Canada, $10/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 @ $3 each. Address: The Eugene O'Neill Newsletter, Department of English, Suffolk University, Boston, MA 02108 U.S.A.

 

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