(Hilton Als's article appeared in The New Yorker 5/11/09:)

No Place Like Home

Eugene O’Neill on love triangles.

By the time “Desire Under the Elms” opened on Broadway, in 1925, Eugene O’Neill had already written a number of full-length plays that drew on his fascination with, and abhorrence of, female sexual power, particularly as it is used to drive men apart. In “Beyond the Horizon” (1920), for instance, a woman pits two brothers against each other as they compete for her love. When the more poetic-minded brother dies of consumption, the woman descends into selfish hysteria. For this Strindbergian exercise, O’Neill was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. He won it again two years later for “Anna Christie,” a slightly crude but effective drama about a former prostitute, raped as a teen-ager, who finds a fiancé and her long-lost father at the same time. O’Neill’s interest here lies not in Anna’s bitter past but in the two men’s reactions to it. In 1924, O’Neill expanded his interest in love triangles with “All God’s Chillun Got Wings,” a play in which race is the third member of a marriage undone by the strain of miscegenation . . .


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Official site: http://www.desireonbroadway.com/

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