In 2011, the centennial of Tennessee Williams's birth, events were held around the world honoring America's greatest playwright. There were festivals, conferences, and exhibitions held in places closely associated with Williams's life and career--New Orleans held major celebrations, as did New York, Key West, and Provincetown. But absolutely nothing was done to celebrate Williams's life and extraordinary literary and theatrical career in the place that he lived in longest, and called home longer than any other--St. Louis, Missouri.
The question of this paradox lies at the heart of this book, an attempt not so much to correct the record about Williams's well-chronicled dislike of the city, but rather to reveal how the city was absolutely indispensable to his formation and development both as a person and artist. Unlike the prevailing scholarly narrative that suggests that Williams discovered himself artistically and sexually in the deep South and New Orleans, Blue Song reveals that Williams remained emotionally tethered to St. Louis for a host of reasons for the rest of his life.
"When Tennessee Williams was asked what brought him to New Orleans, he said 'St Louis'. In this eminently readable and exhaustively researched study, Henry Schvey deftly swivels the spotlight illuminating the work of Tennessee Williams from the freedom of New Orleans which is typically heralded as the source of his greatness and shines it boldly back into the prison of Tennessee's life in 'Saint Pollution' which enshrouded him with a darkness he was never able to escape. A notable contribution to the understanding of this great ever fascinating American playwright."-- John Guare, playwright and screenwriter, author of The House of Blue Leaves and Six Degrees of Separation
"Blue Song delves deeply and insightfully into St. Louis' complicated influence on Williams's life and work. A fantastic read."-- Carrie Houk, Executive Artistic Director, Tennessee Williams Festival St. Louis
About our Speakers
Henry I. Schvey is Professor of Drama and Comparative Literature at Washington University in St. Louis and the author of three books, including Oskar Kokoschka: The Painter as Playwright. He lives in St. Louis, Missouri.
Robert W. Duffy reported on arts and culture for St. Louis Public Radio. He had a 32-year career at the Post-Dispatch, then helped to found the St. Louis Beacon, which merged in January with St. Louis Public Radio. He has written about the visual arts, music, architecture and urban design throughout his career.
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