Benedict Nightingale

Stabbed to Our Depths

Eugene O’Neill: A Life in Four Acts

By

Yale University Press 569pp £20 order from our bookshop

Eugene O’Neill was in some ways a terrible man and in many ways a tremendous dramatist, and in each case for the same reason. The family he evoked in his autobiographical Long Day’s Journey into Night – miserly father, embittered and self-destructive brother, morphine-addicted mother who offloaded her guilt and resentment onto everyone else – combined with an emotionally intense temperament to leave him dangerously damaged. Yet he was prepared to make creative use of that damage. Can we see his plays as a cumulative attempt to confront his origins and find explanations for the baffling universe that had left him floundering in what he regarded as a modern House of Atreus? I think so. So, I feel, does Robert Dowling, the American academic who has written this authoritative, readable and altogether excellent biography.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • What a charming, candid blogpost from one of our dear contributing editors. ,
    • RT : The first guess from one of my 1st graders was “death” and such an awed, somber, reflective hush fell over the clas… ,
    • Merry Christmas from Literary Review! Hope your stockings were laden with books, and the tree bending under the weight of further books....,
    • Last minute Christmas gift required? We're offering discounts on all our subscriptions (20% no less!) with the cod… ,
    • In this issue's 'Silenced Voices', Lucy Popescu writes of Thailand's restrictive lese-majesty laws and their latest… ,
    • "Gunn was a disciple of the American formalist Yvor Winters, but Winters’s poetry could never give off such a scent… ,
    • Christmas gift hunting? Why not give the gift of being even better read? We're offering discounts on all our subscr… ,