Tennessee’s Small Circle of Friends


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         In his plays, Williams depicts writers who know each other socially as squabbling rivals, trading banter: Hemingway and Fitzgerald bicker in his Clothes for a Summer Hotel; and in The Notebooks of Trigorin, Williams’ version of Chekhov’s Seagull, the short-story writers Treplev and Trigorin describe each other with withering dismissals. In Williams’ life, catty remarks were tossed at him and thrown back to his friends Donald Windham, Gore Vidal, and Truman Capote—that is to say, other gay writers of his generation whose criticism Williams endured, even as he tolerated their work as playwrights (yet somehow passing on to them that he knew himself to be the superior dramatist). No one could be quite so wounding to Williams as these men who knew enough to cut close and deep. Williams gave as good as he got. Gore Vidal, in an unintentionally self-revealing review of Williams’ Memoirs titled “Some Memories of the Glorious Bird and an Earlier Self,” cracked that “the Bird seldom reads a book,” to which Williams replied, “He means I seldom read one of his.”

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David Kaplan is curator of the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival and author of Tennessee Williams in Provincetown (2006).


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Discussion1 Comment

  1. So much of Williams life points to a Broadway Theater buff who made it his vocation. I could see Williams in intimate interludes with cast parties flirting with actors and requesting convivial support from stage directors. In fact one reason why his dramatic dialogoue is so effective is because in a broad scope it is very much like the homosexual seduction that takes place in dressing rooms as men are putting on make up, and playing sexual games. Williams will always be notorious for being Broadways most encouraging homosexual. It is no wonder so much of his life seems to be in backstage fellatious wet dreams and of course his drifting into lovers arms as a means of escaping homophobia.

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