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Overview

Gentlemen Callers provides a fascinating look at America's greatest twentieth-century playwright. Michael Paller examines Tennessee Williams's plays from the 1940s through the 1980s against the backdrop of the playwright's life story and the culture in which he worked, providing fresh details. Through this lens Paller examines the evolution of mid-twentieth-century America's acknowledgment and acceptance of homosexuality. From the early one-act Auto-da-Fe and The Glass Menagerie through Small Craft Warnings and ...
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Gentlemen Callers

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Overview

Gentlemen Callers provides a fascinating look at America's greatest twentieth-century playwright. Michael Paller examines Tennessee Williams's plays from the 1940s through the 1980s against the backdrop of the playwright's life story and the culture in which he worked, providing fresh details. Through this lens Paller examines the evolution of mid-twentieth-century America's acknowledgment and acceptance of homosexuality. From the early one-act Auto-da-Fe and The Glass Menagerie through Small Craft Warnings and Something Cloudy, Something Clear, Paller's book investigates how Williams's earliest critics marginalized or ignored his gay characters and why, beginning in the 1970s, many gay liberationists reviled them. Lively, blunt, and provocative, this book will appeal to anyone who loves Williams, Broadway, and the theater.
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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Dramaturg, academic and journalist Paller situates Tennessee Williams within the New York gay theater of the mid-40s through 70s in a thoughtful, articulate defense of the playwright's work. By no means is Paller's study an adequate biography of Williams: He quotes freely from Lyle Leverich's Tom (1995) for a comprehensive look at the life. Instead, Paller concentrates on how the playwright's work, especially its treatment of homosexuality (and evasion thereof), formed and fit into New York theater-excluding A Streetcar Named Desire, by the way, curiously ignored by Paller for "space limitation," and also because, some may argue, "there are no gay characters in it, anyway." Paller accepts the evidence of Williams's "self-loathing" only in terms of the savage condemnation of homosexuality that permeated the society-Southern, WWII-he grew up in. In most of Williams's best work, from Lord Byron's Love Letter to The Night of the Iguana (1961), he would wrestle with "his urge to conceal with the equally strong need to reveal." Paller tracks Williams's work on Broadway, where he showcased almost exclusively, starting from the 1945 production of The Glass Menagerie. He examines each play with a probing analysis of plot, character and author's intention. While mining Williams's internal acceptance of his homosexuality (allowing, however, few clues from his actual life), Paller delves most effectively into the forms of institutionalized homophobia generated at the time of the Cold War, as in the Army's justification for the rejection of homosexuals; the backlash to the Kinsey Report of 1948; the de facto criminalization of homosexuality, and the classification of homosexuality by the increasinglyinfluential psychoanalytic establishment as a sickness. Moreover, Paller demonstrates a goodly knowledge of the entire context of New York theater. Yet his work will suffice only for readers already well familiar with Williams's bittersweet trajectory as "founding father of the uncloseted gay world."A well-documented, important study of one facet of a complex artist.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780230256781
  • Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
  • Publication date: 4/16/2005
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • File size: 332 KB

Meet the Author

Michael Paller has written theater reviews for the Washington Post, Village Voice, Newsday, and Mirabella magazine. He teaches at Columbia University and the State University of New York at Purchase. Michael lives in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments

• Introduction

• The Signs are Interior

• Blue as My First Lover's Eyes

• The Time and World That I Live In

• Something Kept on Ice

• A True Story of Our Time

• Almost Willfully Out of Contact with the World

• Before My Clean Heart Has Grown Dirty* Bibliography

• Index

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Recipe

"Tennessee Williams was America's most original dramatic talent. He was also gay. The significance of this fact is explored by Michael Paller in a book full of striking insights into the man, the plays, and the theatre of which he was a part. What emerges from this study is a familiar figure seen in a new complexity. What also emerges is an America whose oppressive laws and casual cruelties toward those who shared his sexuality in part created the pressures which created the context, if not always the subject, of his art."--Christopher Bigsby, Professor of American Studies at the University of East Anglia and Director of the Arthur Miller Centre

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