Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Eugene O'Neill Beyond The Horizon

Eugene O’Neill’s seminal, Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Beyond the Horizon, was written in 1918 but not produced or published until 1920, when it made its debut in New York. Beyond the Horizon was O’Neill’s first successful full-length play, and it signaled a change in American drama. Critics and audiences responded favorably to O’Neill’s dark, tragic vision, which contrasted sharply with the unrealistic, melodramatic plays of the day. The play drew heavily on O’Neill’s own experiences, including his tuberculosis and his sea voyages. During one of these sea trips, he met a Norwegian sailor who criticized his choice of going to sea as opposed to staying on his family’s farm. Taking this idea as a starting point, O’Neill crafted a tale of missed opportunities and failed dreams, involving two brothers. Robert, a poetic but sickly dreamer, wants to go to sea to strengthen his health and see the world. His brother, Andrew, is a born farmer who wants nothing more than to work on his family’s farm. Because they love the same woman, both brothers choose to go against their natures. Robert stays on the farm, and Andrew goes to sea. Enotes

In an article published in the New York Times April 11th 1920, O'Neill talks about the sources for his play Beyond The Horizon . 

O'Neill had got the idea for it from a Norwegian shipmate on the voyage from Buenos Aires to New York:

The sailor habitually cursed the day when he left his farm and went to sea twenty years before. This was a familiar lament among seamen, and O'Neill realized that this man was too much "a creature of the God of Things as They Are" to have stayed at home. But the playwright began to speculate about "a more intellectual, civilized type" in a comparable situation. In such a man, the "inborn craving for the sea's unrest" would be "intellectually diluted into a vague, intangible wanderlust. His powers of resistance, both moral and physical, would also be correspondingly watered." Electronic Eugene O'Neill Archive

Lowry alludes to the New York Times article in Chapter 3 of his first novel Ultramarine when Dana say to Popplereuter ; "Consequently I have in me an inborn craving for the unrest of the sea....Oh, but this craving was not, is not conscious enough, as Petit the poet said, intellectually diluted into a vague, intangible wanderlust" Pg. 96.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing how you continue to find these things. Lowry would be mortified to learn of this, haha.

    At this point, I almost see him as a sort of literary DJ; that is, taking samples from other peoples' work and splicing it all together to form another piece of work all together.