Michael S. D. Hooper reverses the recent trend of regarding Tennessee Williams as fundamentally a social writer following the discovery, publication and/or performance of plays from both ends of his career - the 'proletarian' apprentice years of Candles to the Sun and Not About Nightingales and the once overlooked final period of, amongst many other plays, The Red Devil Battery Sign. Hooper contends that recent criticism has exaggerated the political engagement and egalitarian credentials of a writer whose characters and situations revert to a reactionary politics of the individual dominated by the negotiation of sexual power. Directly, or more often indirectly, Williams' writing expresses social disaffection before glamorising the outcast and shelving thoughts of political change. Through detailed analysis of canonical texts the book sheds new light on Williams' work, as well as on the cultural and social life of mid-twentieth-century America.

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