(1888-1953)'/> (1888-1953)' /> (1888-1953)' /> Biography of Eugene Gladstone O'Neill <small>(1888-1953)</small> - TheBiography.us

Biography of Eugene Gladstone O'Neill (1888-1953)

American playwright, born in New York on October 16, 1888 and died in Boston on November 27, 1953. Author of a fruitful, extensive and dazzling theatrical production which, on the basis of the great mythic traditions, religious and literary of all time (the Greek classics, the biblical legacy and the legacy of Elizabethan theatre), assumes the main contributions of contemporary Western culture (social Darwinism, Expressionism, psychoanalysis, etc) to provide a crude portrait of America in the 20th centuryHe drew in his works a deep analysis of the fundamental problems of human beings and invented a peculiar scenic universe that places him on the cusp of dramatic literature of all time. Awarded the prestigious Pulitzer Prize four times, in 1936 it became the first North American playwright honored by the Swedish Academy, the Nobel Prize for literature, in recognition of "the energy, honesty and emotion of his dramatic works, which embody a new concept of tragedy".


Born in a family of Irish origin firmly linked to the world of the scene - he/she was the son of the actor James O'Neill-, he/she lived since his childhood immersed in theatrical environments that attended in the company of his father, he/she accompanied touring whenever allowed the iron discipline of Catholic schools in that its primary and secondary education was forged. In 1906, at the age of eighteen, he/she entered Princeton University, but his restless and adventurous spirit impelled him to leave their classrooms at the end of a year, to get married and start a dissipated and bohemian life that forced him to play the most varied occupations. Well, after survive for a short period of time as dependent on a New York store, in 1909 traveled to Honduras with an expedition of gold diggers, activity that soon left to accept the position of Manager at the theater company founded by his father. Soon after, it also left this job to enroll as a sailor on a long voyage which led him to the coasts of South America and South Africa, which allowed him to visit a part of England and some of the major seaports in the United States.

After this enriching naval experience, he/she returned to join the collective Theater from his father (this time, as actor), activity that began to combine with the writing of Chronicles and reports for a Rotary in New London (Connecticut). In 1912, his eventful life adventurer suffered a sudden break from having to stay in a sanatorium to recover from a slight tuberculous condition, which, added to the alcohol abuse, was seriously undermined his health. It was during this long stay at the hospital when, in the wake of the reading of the works of Fyodor Dostoevsky, August Strindberg , and - especially - Joseph Conrad, Eugene O'Neill began to transform their ideas and experiences in a series of creative exercises that resulted in their first theatrical parts (composed, in general, a single act).

At the exit of the clinical residency, once part of his medical condition, the young playwright joined at Harvard University to study, between 1914 and 1915, the famous dramatic techniques of George Pierce Baker Theatre Professor. In 1916, named author and Manager of the Provincetown Players theater company (founded in 1915 by the novelist and playwright Susan Glaspell and her husband George Carm Cook, with the intention of creating in the United States the equivalent of independent rooms European), was established in Provincetown (Massachusetts) and began to bring to the scene of some of the dramas thatbased on his successful adventure marine, had written during his convalescence. The theatrical group to which he/she belonged, marked experimental bias, dealt with mounting and the representation of these new works of O'Neill, among the titled Bound east for Cardiff (heading east towards Cardiff (1916), The long voyage home (the long return trip home, 1917) and The moon of the Caribbees (Moon of Carib)1918).

Encouraged by the positive reception of these brief pieces, at the end of that decade Eugene O'Neill gave the company Provincetown Players his first extensive work, a drama that is composed of three acts, entitled Beyond the horizont (beyond the horizon, 1920), leading to scene the conflict between the routine and adventure, the tension arising from the confrontation between the reality and the dream. Turned into the great success of Broadway during that season, and awarded the Pulitzer Prize for theatre in 1921, this work was the definitive consecration of the writer New York as one of the most prominent voices of a new genuinely American Theater.

Since then, halfway between his New York home and his residence in Provincetown, Eugene Gladstone O'Neill gave to a frenetic creative activity that, although constantly interrupted by their difficult personal circumstances (frustrated love, divorces, new amorous failures, dependence on alcohol and family misfortunes), placed him at the top of the American theatre scene of the Decade of the 1920s. He/She not only linked to the art of Talia as a dramatic author, since it also deployed a constant work of cultural animator that led him to assume, among many other activities, the Organization of the Greenwich Village Theatre and the Foundation of the Theatre Guild. However, neither this fruitful work or multiple awards and honors that was its production prevented the progressive deterioration of his complex and delicate balance psychic, severely damaged, since 1934, by a nerve condition similar to Parkinson's disease. He/She worked, then intermittent basis, subject to strong emotional swings that, after obtaining the Nobel Prize, plunged him into a creative silence that lasted for ten years (1936-1946). This intermittent dedication to writing during their last years of life was a long cycle of works on the history of an American family, which only came to leave concluded the entitled a touch of the poet (released in 1958) and more stately mansions (produced in 1967). Despite these difficulties, the theatrical pieces of his last period - some of them, released after his death — have the same scenic force to its first deliveries, with the interest added to a honda and beautiful inquiry about family relationships and, by extension, the ways of life of contemporary America. Devoid of the lower support emotional and sentimental, he/she died alone in a hotel room in Boston, on November 23, 1953.


The same year in which triumphed on Broadway with the premiere of Beyond the horizont (beyond the horizon, 1920), Eugene O'Neill led to tables a glossy drama naturalist that, under the title of The emperor Jones (Emperor Jones, 1920), had the psychological collapse of a tormented black dictator and - dessert-overcome by fear. Here New York playwright, who had begun to write under the obvious influence of Strindberg and Ibsen, resorted to a mixture of techniques of Expressionism and the postulates of the naturalist Darwinism to deal with the issue of the primitive and wild, concern that also encouraged the writing of other three dramas of great expressive force: The hairy ape (the hairy ape1922), All God's chillun got wings (all God's children have wings, 1924) and Desire under the elms (desire under the ELMS, 1924).

Two years after the premiere of the latter work, O'Neill appealed to one of their usual scenic resources, the use of masks, to compose The great God Brown (the gran Dios Brown, 1926), a drama that denounced the paganism and the lack of spiritual richness governing all acts of modern materialistic society. His subsequent theatrical delivery, entitled Strange interlude (strange interlude, 1927), is considered one of his masterpieces. It's a long drama, composed of nine acts, where O'Neill was to reflect on the scene the way in which psychological processes trump any external action; to do so, the New York writer introduced some structural innovations that would consecrate him as one of the great revolutionaries of dramatic writing of the twentieth century, among which stands out the inclusion of long soliloquies, embedded as "you turn", not only serve to reproduce the evolution of the thought of the characters, but I try to translate, to theatrical language, the resource of the "flow of consciousness" that had been in vogue the contemporary narrative. Concerning the content of this masterpiece, notably the emergence of the issue of family relations, that thereafter would become one of the obsessions of the O'Neill theater.

At the beginning of the Decade of the 1930s, little until his health is worsening seriously, Eugene O'Neill unveiled his masterful dramatic trilogy entitled Mourning becomes Electra (A Electra you feel well mourning, 1931), in which the traditional importance of the Hellenistic tragic fate that serves as a starting point is transformed into the psychic destiny of modern mannow subject to studies of psychoanalysis. O'Neill transplanted the mythic tragedy of the Atreides family of nineteenth-century New England, subject to their own repressive codes and the devastating effect of the civil war, it falls gradually toward self-destruction.

A sudden change of stylistic and thematic register led O'Neill to spend from the influence of the Oresteia of I Esquilo reflected light in Virgin Lands (1932), work which, despite its minor intellectual pretensions, a great success of critics and the public. After the premiere of any other work retail (such as days endless, 1934) and the long hiatus of creative silence that was granted the New York playwright, in the mid-1940s returned development to the American stage as The iceman cometh (becomes the ice man, 1946), a splendid and disturbing portrait of a group of social misfits thatheld in the archetypal space of a bar, embodied in their frustrated stock failure of society, unable to recover - as own work characters - the hope of the lost illusions and the splendor of the faded dreams.

Later, Eugene O'Neill wrote two tragedies based on your own family adventure, titled Long day's journey into the night (long day trip into night, premiered in 1956 and awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1957) and a moon to the bastard (produced in 1957). Other works not mentioned in previous paragraphs are Anna Christie (1921, awarded the Pulitzer in 1922), Lazarus laughed (1926), Marco Millions (1928) and Dynamo (1929).

Among the innovative theatrical techniques introduced by Eugene O'Neill in the contemporary scene, it is obligated to highlight a series of far-reaching symbolic resources that allowed him to strengthen their religious, cultural and philosophical ideas, as well as to emphasize the psychological depth of his characters on the tables. Among these innovations, recalled the aforementioned use of masks (which served him to reflect various shades of the personality of its characters) and also mentioned recourse to the inner monologue (that, expressed in the form of "excerpts", allowed the characters recite aloud their thoughts, in the style of ancient Greek tragedies); in this same line of recovery of some basic elements of the Hellenic Theatre, O'Neill introduced also in some of his best pieces the voice of a choir which was reviewing and commenting on the action of the play. Another novelty provided by the New York playwright was the use of a tam-tam sounds that would indicate the progressive increase of the dramatic tension.

The absence of a genuine American theatrical tradition forced O'Neill from a universal dramatic heritage in which they quote, in fertile promiscuity, the postulated aesthetic naturalistic of Strindberg and Ibsen (based on the scientific legacy of Darwin), Greek myths and Biblical, and tradition literary Theatre Elizabethan English. With stereotypes so diverse and complex, its wide cultural formation and its amazing ability to stage creation could knead a new dramatic conception that tried to reflect the legendary greatness of contemporary America, and explain the collapse of its heroic potential in the light of the Psychoanalytical teachings of Sigmund Freud and philosophical proposals of Friedrich Nietzsche.

With regard to the psychological construction of his characters in most of his works Eugene O'Neill presents weak, defenseless and troubled beings that, faced with imminent self-destruction, try to find the external reasons for their unhappiness, while are punished and humiliated by his sinful and guilty conscience. All of them form a pessimistic overview of the human being, referred to as a victim of outside circumstances which, devoid of their old resources of comfort (religious faith, belief in destiny or free will, etc.), not is another cause of his misfortune to his own helpless weakness.

The introduction of psychological realism in the contemporary scene gives the theatrical production of Eugene o' ' Neill of historical values which, added to his literary brilliance, they placed the New York author in the field of the great dramatists of world literature. However, from today's perspective it is not difficult to point out some flaws that could well move him from the genius recognized in other contemporary authors. Among them, it is worth noting its pretentious symbolic dimension (occasionally too tight for the correct interpretation from an armchair Theatre), as well as the forced employment of some scenic innovations that today is too elementary (such as the aforementioned use of the tam-tam sound), either or seem to the modern Viewer as so willing as failed experiments (since they do not always achieve the desired objectives). Moreover, theatrical language employed by some of its characters has been subject to many criticisms, by its tendency to pass abruptly in moments of greatest dramatic tension, without solution of continuity, from the most sublime registration until most pathetic and ridiculous tone.