O’Neill Play by Play: A Selective, Classified International Bibliography of Publications About the Drama of Eugene O’Neill is aimed at the everyday scholar or student of O’Neill’s drama, whether here or in most foreign countries. Unlike existing works of the same general nature, it is selective, classified, and international. The two most important secondary bibliographies available are Jordan Y. Miller’s Eugene O’Neill and the American critic: A Bibliographical Checklist (1973) and Madeline C. Smith and Richard Eaton’s Eugene O’Neill: An Annotated International Bibliography, 1973 Through 1999 (2001).1 Both embrace the full range of O’Neill commentary, including the scholarly and public fascination with details of his life and the vagaries of his theatrical reception. However, neither volume is conveniently classified by topics; the user of Smith-Eaton must rely on indexes of subjects and plays, and the sections for each play in Miller’s otherwise unclassified work are designed for specialists in a way that makes them tedious for others to use.2
Because both of these bibliographies are annotated, they make no attempt to be comprehensive in their coverage. Miller, who began compiling material as a graduate student, wisely restricted himself to English-language publications (and eventually to those published before 1973). Smith-Eaton picked up where he left off, tackling very few publications in English and none in foreign languages before 1973. These decisions left a great many foreign-language publications unlisted—all before 1973 and quite a few with more recent dates. Therefore, although we can relish the luxury of thorough and cogent annotations of the English-language references done by two eminent O’Neill scholars, a more readily usable bibliography still remained a crying need. The missing elements were partly supplied in the O’Neill sections of my two-volume compilation, Modern Drama Scholarship and Criticism . . . : An International Bibliography, which covers 1966 to 1990. But to learn about foreign publications before 1966 and the ones after 1990 that Smith-Eaton do not cite, plus a great many English-language references that turn up in neither volume, the scholar has had no recourse but to search through a variety of bibliographical sources in the library and online.
The present compilation offers greater comprehensiveness combined with greater selectivity. It not only brings the record of commentary up to date by drawing upon the bibliographical sources that extend beyond the Smith-Eaton limit of 1999,3 but also revisits sources available to previous compilers—including close looks at research library holdings—in an effort to supplement, modify, and glean the references already available. My vague but workable standard of selection is that every entry should point to something “substantial” so that users will not be disappointed when they track down the ones that look promising for their purposes. The focus on the dramatic works of O’Neill and the background vital for their comprehension is the most significant limiting factor, but qualitative measures were also applied. The one exception I applied to the latter policy is in the admission of foreign-language commentaries, which were often “allowed in” just to amplify the relatively meager record that exists. In effect, these contribute to a fuller picture of the expression of interest in O’Neill around the world.
The bibliography has an innovative feature that is designed to make it as useful as possible. The entries do not provide commentary except for brief identifying or clarifying notes when desirable. However, a large majority of them conclude with page references to the annotations in Miller or Smith-Eaton: e.g. [M142] or [S83]. (Annotations that are of little or no value are not listed.) Although I have no delusion that most users will have instant access to both of these volumes, a trip to an academic library will enable them to take full advantage of this policy.
Entries include phrases such as "Pp 24-32 in Floyd" or "Repr. on pp 108-24 in Cargill". Each of these refers to the collection of essays on O’Neill in which the essay is either printed for the first time or reprinted. These boldface references can be found in the "Analyzed Collections of Essays About O’Neill" section.
What should be the most welcome feature of the present bibliography is that it offers the convenience of user-friendly classification. The most obvious product of this policy is indicated in the title: O’Neill Play by Play. Under all of O’Neill’s dramatic works are listed the articles, chapters and sections in books (including the many studies of O’Neill), and in a few cases whole books about the given play. Thus the user has instant access to virtually all of the approximately 200 “substantial” commentaries on Long Day’s Journey Into Night, the 180-plus on The Iceman Cometh, and the 160 or so on Mourning Becomes Electra. This feature will perhaps be more greatly appreciated in the sections for such less studied plays as Dynamo and Marco Millions, each with over 25 entries. There are also eight for Diff’rent, seven for The Personal Equation, and six for Servitude.
The topical arrangement I have adopted responds to the actual nature of the varied commentary on the drama of O’Neill. Besides the inevitable reference, general, biographical, and theatrical sections, there are sections for the three main phases of O’Neill’s career, various aspects of his dramaturgy, cultural influences and associations, and “O’Neill and Other Dramatists.” The commentaries on individual plays—listed in alphabetical order—follow, themselves alphabetically arranged. I hold no brief for the ultimate validity of such subclassifications as “Naturalism and Social Criticism” and “Modernized Myth and Ritual” as two of five of O’Neill’s genres, or “Oriental Influences and Ideas” as a prominent cultural influence, or even “Middle Plays,” a much less defined phase of his career than Early or Late. I can only plead that the categories were chosen inductively to accommodate the array of publications I had assembled.
Another feature, one that might well prove controversial, is the division of the entire bibliography into post- and pre-1939 references. The dividing line was determined by granting Joseph Wood Krutch’s treatment of O’Neill in his influential 1939 book, The American Drama Since 1918, the status of the first distinctly “modern” analysis. The pre-Krutch publications (many in foreign languages) are treated as an appendix with only a single alphabetical listing. My guess was that a large proportion of O’Neill researchers would welcome such a principle of exclusion which shortens the lists of citations in the various divisions of the main bibliography, especially those on the plays. The pre-modern entries include several of genuine interest, including comments by T. S. Eliot and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, judgments by Francis Fergusson, Lionel Trilling, and Kemp Malone, and the first substantial (if old-fashioned) book on O’Neill, Richard D. Skinner’s Eugene O’Neill: A Poet’s Quest (1935). But most scholars casting an eye over the 90-odd items will agree, I think, that they have more of an historical or even anthropological interest than a practical use.
If that feature proves less of a benefit than a shortcoming, it will be one of at least three that users should bear in mind. The others are:
The format used in this compilation generally conforms to the one I employed in Modern Drama Scholarship and Criticism. In an attempt to gain greater intelligibility and economy than standard American practice offers, techniques common in library catalogs and European bibliographies have been grafted upon basic American conventions, and others have been devised to enhance clarity without wasting space. It has been a relief, however, to abandon the un-user-friendly presence of innumerable abbreviations, particularly of journal titles (none are abbreviated). A quick scan of the list below should make it virtually unnecessary to consult it again. The only type of book entry that may require explanation derives from my attempt to list whatever previously published articles or sections of books were reprinted, revised, or otherwise incorporated into a given book (as far as I could determine), thus clarifying for users which of these can be ignored. One clear-cut example should suffice to illustrate this as well as the general format:
Following is a list of the sources I consulted in the process of compiling this bibliography, other than the ones listed in the “Reference and Bibliography” section.
1. Books and Parts of Books
Sources Not Online
(Limited to those not listed in the “Reference and Bibliography” section below.)
(Abbreviations for months are not listed)
1 See the section “Reference and Bibliography” for full publication data.
2 I hasten to note that the subject indexes in both Miller and Smith-Eaton were invaluable to me in developing the section on Nietzsche, Freud, and Jung.
3 Although the present compilation is more selective than both of these bibliographies, over 30% of the 550-plus discrete entries are new to the total record (not counting the dozens of repeated entries, or “analytics”).
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