One-Minute Book Reviews

April 20, 2007

Tennessee Williams on Whether His Plays Were Autobiographical, Quote of the Day #20

Filed under: Quotes of the Day — 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom @ 9:37 am
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“My work is emotionally autobiographical. It has no relationship to the actual events of my life, but it reflects the emotional currents of my life.”

Tennessee Williams in an interview with Dotson Rader in 1981, published in The Paris Review Interviews: Writers at Work: Sixth Series (Viking, 1984). Edited by George Plimpton. Introduction by Frank Kermode.

Comment by Janice Harayda:

I’m posting this because I started the week by writing about the Pulitzer Prizes and wanted to wrap it up with some comments on them. Tennessee Williams makes an interesting postscript to my post on Famous Pulitzer Losers (April 16), a list of 10 classic novels that didn’t win the Pulitzer for fiction. Williams won two Pulitzer Prizes for drama, for A Streetcar Named Desire (1948) and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955). But he didn’t win for The Glass Menagerie in 1946, when the prize went to State of the Union by Russel Crouse and Howard Lindsay, better known for writing the book for The Sound of Music with music by Rodgers and Hammerstein. Anybody but me want to argue that The Glass Menagerie was as worthy of a Pulitzer as the two plays by Williams that got the prize? The play relates directly to today’s quote — it’s one of Williams’s most autobiographical, however you define “autobiographical.”

(c) 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.


  1. My sentiments exactly. And to bring home the point, compare it to Miller’s Death of a Salesman, which won the award a few years later. It could be argued that Miller’s Salesman was something of a masculinized version of The Glass Menagerie. If Salesman was worthy of a Pulitzer, one would expect it’s inspiration to be equally so.

    Comment by heehler — April 22, 2007 @ 11:00 pm | Reply

  2. That’s such an interesting comparison of the two plays. I’d never thought of “Death of a Salesman” as being as a masculinized “Glass Menagerie.” But it does make perfect sense — both involve thwarted parental dreams projected onto children.

    I’ve mentioned on this site that so often prize juries honor writers too late, rewarding the wrong book by the right author. In Williams’s case, I wonder if the Pulitzer judges thought they had honored him too early and by the time “The Glass Menagerie” appeared, they thought, “He’s had two Pulitzers, let’s give one to somebody else”?

    Comment by 1minutebookreviewswordpresscom — April 23, 2007 @ 7:38 pm | Reply

  3. good point.

    Comment by heehler — April 23, 2007 @ 10:20 pm | Reply

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