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Paperback Long Day's Journey into Night Book

ISBN: 0300093055

ISBN13: 9780300093056

Long Day's Journey into Night

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Book Overview

Eugene O'Neill's autobiographical play Long Day's Journey into Night is regarded as his finest work. First published by Yale University Press in 1956, it won the Pulitzer Prize in 1957 and has since sold more than one million copies. This edition, which includes a new foreword by Harold Bloom, coincides with a new production of the play starring Brian Dennehy, which opens in Chicago in January 2002 and in New York in April. "By common consent, Long...

Customer Reviews

4 ratings

Timeless themes revolving around the dysfunctional Tyrones!

I haven't actually read a play since college and I picked this up because I am going to see the Broadway production of "Long Day's Journey Into Night", starring Vanessa Redgrave and Brian Dennhey,and I always find that I appreciate shows like that more if I am familiar with the play itself. It was an enjoyable genre change for me!What makes this play particularly interesting is the autobiographical nature of the plot (so disturbingly autobiographical, in fact, that O'Neill would not allow its publication and production until after his death!). O'Neill dedicated the play to his wife, basically stating that writing this was his way of coming to grips with his own past and the "4 haunted Tryrones" of his life. I imagine that when this first appeared in the theaters in the 1950s, it struck a sensitive and somewhat controversial chord amongst the public since issues such as drug addiction and alcoholism were not common topics in popular entertainment at the time. I also enjoyed all the literary references to the likes of Shakespeare, Baudelaire and Swineburne (and so forth!). It made me want to acquaint myself with such literary talents once again! This is another example of a piece of literature that reaches across the decades with timeless themes such as familial love, loyalty, jealousy, guilt and betrayal, as well as depression, addiction and greed. While I pitied and even despised some of the qualities I saw in these characters, I couldn't help empathizing with Mary's nervous addiction as well as James' feeling of disappointment in his past failures. In other words, these characters are all so human, that I couldn't help being drawn into the realistic pathos of their lives.

Depresessing, Enthralling...Beautiful.

If one needs the ultimate example of a classic American play, I would have to say the play about the most un-classic, untypical (or is it?) American family...Eugene O'Neill's "Long Days Journey Into Night." Set in the chlostrophobic New England summer house of the Tyrone's, and spanning over the course of one day, the Tyrone family--the stingy, retired actor James, the lonely opium addicted wife Mary, drunken Jamie, and sensitive, ill Edmund--avoids, denys, confronts and retreats from all their demons, until it is finally night, and they no longer can. Depressing, huh? Well, of course it is...but within it is something so powerful, so strangely beautiful, that the reader (or viewer) is enthralled. One sees seemingly strong James, ashamed of himself for selling out his acting abilities for financial security. Mary, lonely from James' years of touring, has turned to an opium addiction that she can not seem to confront. Jamie, from hate of his father's stinginess and his own self-blame, loses himself in alcohol and whores. And sweet, artistic, tubulcular Edmund (O'Neill's alter ego) plays witness in the deteration of his family's web of pain, denial and lies. All they want is for morning to come, another day to let the fog come in around them so they can forget again.In a way, isn't that what we all want to do sometimes? Just forget what's going on around us, even for a while. I would recommend this play as absolutly essential to read--for the fan of the theatre, literature, or a layman. Anyone can relate to the pure, raw emotion and guilt O'Neill conveys. Buy it now, you'll thank me later.

O'Neill at his best

Long Day's Journey into Night is the play in which Eugene O'Neill, as he says in the dedication, had to "face [his] dead at last" by writing about the tragic dysfunctions of James, Mary, Jamie, and Edmund Tyrone, characters based respectively on O'Neill's father, mother, and brother, and O'Neill himself. It is set entirely at the O'Neill residence and takes place over the course of the day on which the family doctor confirms that 23 year-old Edmund has tuberculosis and must go to a sanatorium. There is relatively little action in the play aside from that; most of the dialogue relates to the other members of the Tyrone family facing the various problems that haunt them every day of their lives: Mary is addicted to morphine; Jamie is an alcoholic and at 33 seems unlikely to amount to anything; and James also has an alcohol problem but more importantly is still bitter about his childhood, which was cut short when he was obliged to go to work at a machine shop at the age of 10 because of the departure of his father. The whole Tyrone family is in a state of despair, and it's hard to think of an author better at capturing despair than O'Neill (in no small part, one suspects, because he came of age in the sort of environment depicted in this play). O'Neill was certainly bitter about his past, but, importantly, he doesn't lose perspective. Although the way the Tyrones treat each other ranges from neutral to downright cruel, O'Neill does a splendid job of balancing this against the fact that they all love each other deeply and feel very unnerved whenever they realize that they're treating each other unfairly. Despite all the problems he faced as a young adult, O'Neill always viewed his family with a good deal of love and reverence, and that comes through in the play. As Mary puts it, "None of us can help the things life has done to us. They're done before you realize it, and once they're done they make you do other things until at last everything comes between you and what you'd like to be, and you've lost your true self forever." The tragedy of Long Day's Journey into Night lies in the fact that these great individuals have lost their true selves due to the various demons that haunt their lives. Some of O'Neill's works could reasonably be criticized for featuring relatively one-dimensional characters and formulaic plots. In the case of Long Day's Journey, though, because O'Neill was able to rely on his own experiences, all four main characters are exceptionally deep and balanced, and the plot is distinctly unpredictable. Though I've very much enjoyed all the O'Neill plays I've read, it seems that in Long Day's Journey he finally put together all his talents and produced his crowning achievement.

O Neal is ruthlessly honest in this sordid, beautiful play

I read the play when I was 19. I stumbled upon it on a dime rack at the library. One day, I was moving and had some time on my hands until the movers arrived to haul away my stuff. I pulled out my copy and was never the same again. I sat on the floor and read from the late morning to dusk--when the light was no longer sufficient to read by. I hadn't noticed that my shoulder had begun to ache or that my throat was screaming for water, I was absorbed in the play as if I was receiving a vision. Anyone who claims that the play is not well-written doesn't understand literature, nor have they seen the staged production. (I'd highly recommend the movie with Katherine Hepburn). The honesty of the playwright will put you through an emotional ringer that is difficult to detach yourself from long after the reading is done. The fog horn, the deception, the cutting words of the players all haunt your dreams. This is a masterpiece.
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