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The Curse of the Misbegotten

Bowen, Croswell
London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1960
English first edition, with dust jacket

The Complete Text
    NOTES:  Inscribed by Shane O'Neill.

Extensively assisted by O'Neill's younger son (Shane), Bowen has attempted to tell the story of O'Neill's life and artistic career in terms of the apparent "curse" upon the "house"; namely, the inability of its members successfully to communicate to each other their deep capacity for love, with the resulting doom to a lonely isolated life in the midst of material and artistic plenty.  It is not, however, merely a book of critical analysis or philosophical interpretation, but is by far the most complete factual account of O'Neill's personal history to be published through 1959.  Its early chapters provide specific detail helpfully supplementing Miss Boulton's account (Part of a Long Story), and the entire volume gives more insight into O'Neill's vastly complex inner nature and outer character manifestations than any other work up to this time.  Still, it is not a true biography; it is, as Bowen states, a "tale"highly readable, vastly interesting, and, like Miss Boulton's report, terrifying in the darkness it reveals but cannot successfully explain.  Its major drawback is Bowen's many pauses to discuss the merits of individual plays as they appeared, thus slowing down the interesting story he is telling.Miller


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