Eugene O' Neill's Unfinished Threnody and Process of Invention in His Four Cycle Plays

Author: Bower, Martha
This is a detailed and intimate analysis of O'Neill's complicated writing process as he created four of the plays in the eleven-play cycle: A Touch of the Poet, More Stately Mansions, The Calms of Capricorn, and Hair of the Dog. The first two are the only plays finished by O'Neill. The others have enough substantive material to give the reader a sense of what the plays would have been. Having transcribed reams of O'Neill's unpublished handwritten notes, outlines, and scenarios, Bower focuses on the `pre-writing' leading up to each play's final draft. Breaks new ground in unfolding a subtext that reveals new autobiographical analogues and connections to the late plays, and reveals O'Neill's development of a female character unique to American literature.


". . . it is difficult to imagine anyone conveying the considerable amount of material in those pre-writings so clearly and succinctly as Bower has done, quoting judiciously when quotation seems called for, summarizing deftly to keep her book down to readable length. . . . Bower's discussion of the many contradictory elements of the playwright's great cycle in their highly complex development makes her work critically important to our understanding of both the playwright's life and special creative genius." - Michael Manheim, President, The Eugene O'Neill Society

". . . thanks to her painstaking deciphering of O'Neill's miniscule handwriting, her generous inclusion of much of the unpublished passages, and her masterly summaries of sections not quoted, we now know more about O'Neill's creative process than ever before. . . . There are important discoveries and sage inferences . . . on virtually every page. . . . The book is meticulously presented. Bower has lived so long with the Cycle materials that she is unmatched in guiding newcomers through their intricacies." - Frederick C. Wilkins, editor, The Eugene O'Neill Review