LOVE AND DEATH
IN TENNESSEE WILLIAMS
by John J. Fritscher, Ph.D.
(aka) Jack Fritscher, Ph.D.
Published, Loyola University Library, 1967.
Chapters published in the journal Modern Drama and in the Journal of Popular Culture.
Literature is itself not only product but expression of its engendering context; its present force, coming from the past, thrusts formatively into the future. The writer writes not in a vacuum, but is collector of his past heritage, spokesman for the present moment, and seminal reintegrator for the future. Thomas Lanier Williams, the writer in point, personalizes in historic and psychic biography the bent of the American Experience since the first unsettlement of this country. Williams himself is profoundly aware of the parallel between his own biography and the unfolding of the American Pilgrims' progress. Indeed, it may be adjudged, that the experience with which Tennessee Williams works has certainly been explained more abstrusely, technically, or dogmatically; but yet life humanistically unexamined is not worth literature. To deny such a four-decade interpreter of the mid-century scene is to deny generic esthetic witness in favor of specific sociological clinicians. To one lamenting the lack of the latter there can best be offered the comfort of the intuitive esthetic which includes its own sociology.
This dissertation is apologia neither for Williams nor for America, but endeavors to say something about the latter through examination of the former. The study concludes that Williams is chronicler of the tension existing between what he considers the truth of the human condition and the paranoiac myth of his country. His romantic lyricism pleads for optimum perfectibility of the individual in society; his neo-romantic jaundice, confronted with absurdity, subtracts from society his individuals who, confronted with social alienation, question shaking verities of love and God, life and death.
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