Eugene O'Neill is the only American dramatist ever to have received the Nobel Prize for Literature. He wrote over 50 plays; a number are virtually unknown by the general public; several are considered classics of the American stage; all of them demonstrate, in one way or another, how O'Neill challenged the conventional boundaries of the drama of his time and thereby paved the way for modern American theatre. This volume will provide guides to eight of O'Neill's plays that are most often studied in schools and colleges: The Hairy Ape, Anna Christie, The Emperor Jones, Desire Under the Elms, Ah, Wilderness!, The Iceman Cometh, Long Day's Journey Into Night, and A Moon for the Misbegotten. More than almost any other author in any fictional genre, O'Neill's works are highly autobiographical. The love/hate relationships he had with the members of his own family resonate throughout his dramatic works. The son of an alcoholic and a morphine addict, he struggled with chemical dependency throughout his life, but determined to be an artist or nothing, he eventually gave up drinking and fulfilled his artistic ambitions, transforming the traumatic experiences of his life into compelling drama.
O'Neill's drama provides insights into the complexities of human behavior and raises questions about the forces, both external and internal, that shape human lives.
Steven F. Bloom is the President of the Eugene O'Neill Society (2006 - 2008) and a member of the Society's Board of Directors since 2000. He was the Book Reviews Editor of The Eugene O'Neill Review from 1988 until 2004. He has published numerous articles and reviews on O'Neill in The Eugene O'Neill Review and elsewhere, and he has spoken on O'Neill at many professional conferences and other public forums. He has taught courses in drama, media studies, literature, and writing for over twenty-five years. He is currently Dean of Undergraduate Education and Professor of English at Lasell College in Newton, Massachusetts.