Proofed and corrected from the original edition for enjoyable reading. (Worth every penny spent!)
When first produced in Budapest in 1909 this play was received coldly, but revived ten years later met with immediate and overwhelming triumph, and its author became the idol of the Hungarian public. "Liliom" found its way to America slowly, but when produced by The Theatre Guild was instantly recognized as a masterpiece of modern drama.
An English translation of "Liliom" was credited to Benjamin Glazer, though there is a story that the actual translator, uncredited, was Richard Rodgers' first major partner Lorenz Hart.
Twenty-five years later, Rodgers and Hammerstein transform the play "Liliom" into the musical "Carousel".
THE world has very generally accepted the poetic statement that there are seven ages of man; but now comes a Hungarian dramatist who, in a play, details seven stages in the life of a city thug, whom he calls "Liliom," the slang term for a "tough guy." Brazen and dissolute, Liliom is the barker for a merry-go-round, owned by a Mrs. Muskat, who, in her coarse way, has more than a motherly feeling for him. She is jealous of the girls who come and giggle at his boastfulness; and her sharp eye ferrets out those slim creatures, around whose waists Liliom slips an arm as they get on and off the horses and elephants and other animals that usually enliven a carousel.
The music of the calliope is life to Liliom, and the fact that every one edges near him for his favor, and away from him when he bullies, has not tamed the his temper. They hand him carnations as though he were the lord of the place; they laugh at his unseemly jokes; the soldiers slink off at his bidding. His presence means money in the pocket of Mrs. Muskat. Such is the atmosphere of Liliom's daily life. And Mrs. Muskat could be well satisfied with the thriving of business, were it not for Julie, the servant-girl, upon whom Liliom smiles with his peculiar favor. She and her friend, Marie, are on their way home through a park; they are near a bench. It is evident that Julie has been driven off by Mrs. Muskat and that there is trouble brewing for her life to come.