Tennessee Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire - Working Manuscript Material

Tennessee Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire - Working Manuscript Material Tennessee Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire - Working Manuscript Material Tennessee Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire - Working Manuscript Material Tennessee Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire - Working Manuscript Material Tennessee Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire - Working Manuscript Material

“Hey! How can you toss stuff like this overboard so lightly?” So wrote Irene Selznick, Broadway producer of A Streetcar Named Desire, to Tennessee Williams, in a note she attached to a page of draft speeches from the final scene of the play in 1947 – the year it debuted at the Ethel Barrymore Theater in New York City.

There is a lot of material “tossed overboard” by writers as they work towards a final draft, and a small trove of Williams’s notes and drafts for his Pulitzer Prize-winning work has recently surfaced. Along with the leftovers Selznick hoped Williams would keep are nearly 200 pages of working draft material for the play, and a compelling letter regarding its translation into film, all saved by Frank Merlo, Williams’s partner at the time of its composition. After Merlo’s death the papers devolved to Merlo’s brother, an FBI agent, who, in turn, gave them to his daughters.

The trove includes original working typescript material and occasional manuscript material, including tentative and revised speeches and scenes for the original play; together with a few related notes and letters, such as a substantive missive from film producer Charles Feldman outlining the adaptation process as it was happening.

Tennessee Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire - Working Manuscript Material

It won’t be news that Williams wrote and rewrote and revised and retyped, scene after scene. What is interesting, though, is the extent to which he was called upon to defend his work, and the extent to which he was successful in doing so as it went from his mind, to the page, to stage, and finally to screen.

Highlights in this archive include the following:

• Three versions of a memo Williams wrote defending Stella’s pregnancy to Irene Selznick and Elia Kazan, the producer and director of the Broadway version that would garner the Pulitzer Prize and the Drama Critics Circle Award in 1948.

• A three page letter from Charles Feldman, producer of the film, providing a history of the scripting, casting, and shooting of the film, including its eventual reversion to something quite faithful to the stage version, and exploring the idea of Williams’s participation.

• Draft pages showing versions of the play’s most famous lines – Blanche relying on the “kindness of strangers,” and her reference to “death’s opposite, desire.”

In the typescript pages we see Williams reworking the dialogue and stage directions for what would become scenes 5 and 6 – Blanche’s date with Mitch, and her revelation of her marriage and the death of husband – and the final three scenes, which include Stanley’s confrontation of Blanche, Stella’s exit to have her baby, Stanley’s rape of Blanche, and Blanche’s departure with the doctor.

The most substantive pages are those bearing continually rethought expositional scenes and speeches. There are many, but a few examples will here suffice:

• On one of several draft revisions to the final curtain, Williams explains, in a pencil note: “(This is poetic completion of first scene between them in which he ‘threw her the meat.’)”  And before he came up with Blanche’s most famous line – “I’ve always depended on the kindness of strangers” – he typed, instead, “Whoever you are – I place myself at your mercy!” (A later revision, closer to the final version, is also present.)

• Stella's attempt to explain to a friend and neighbor the progression of Blanche’s illness – or, at least, the progression of Stella’s understanding of it.

• Two pages containing “Blanche’s Last Speech (revised)”: a lengthy monologue to the doctor, which was not ultimately used, in which Blanche reflects on her life and on how it will end.

•  Blanche’s description to Stella of Stanley’s assault.

None of these explanations made it to the stage or screen.

Also compelling are the expected moments of insight into Williams’s life and work which he ultimately cuts, presumably to please late the 1940s censors of the stage. Most notable is the scene in which Blanche recounts to Mitch her short sad history with her first husband, the young Allan, who ultimately shot himself. In our version Williams suggests more forcefully that Allan was gay, and that personal and societal torment drove him to his final act.

Present here is evidence that Williams wrestled with some of his most famous lines. On one page he’s reworked Blanche’s lines: “Death – death. Death’s opposite is desire. Now do you wonder?” He’s taken a pencil to this and altered it to “Death’s opposite’s—desire!” and “Death—The opposite is desire… How could you possibly wonder?”

Other pages contain episodes that fatten the narrative: on one page, cut from, presumably, the birthday dinner scene, Blanche tells Stanley and Stella what is meant to be a funny story about the obsession a girl at the plant has with Jean Harlow. This story, though, of course ultimately serves to underscore her own delusions, and her family’s reaction to them. In another draft, in a later scene, Stanley explains his hatred for Blanche. 

In the correspondence retained in the archive we see Williams explaining the structure of the final scene. And in two complete screenplays, representing different compositional moments, we see the adaptation and application of some of the content of this and related correspondence.

Tennessee Williams: A Streetcar Named Desire - Working Manuscript Material

“The Saddest Story” or “The Roaring Joke”?: The life of Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier

“The Saddest Story” or “The Roaring Joke”?: The life of Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier “The Saddest Story” or “The Roaring Joke”?: The life of Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier “The Saddest Story” or “The Roaring Joke”?: The life of Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier “The Saddest Story” or “The Roaring Joke”?: The life of Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier “The Saddest Story” or “The Roaring Joke”?: The life of Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier

Two typed letters to Ford’s publisher, John Lane, dictated by Ford to his lover Violet Hunt, with whom he was involved from 1910-1918. Dated December 1914 and March 1915, the letters concern the upcoming publication of The Good Soldier – Hunt was the inspiration for the shrewd Florence Dowell in that novel. In the first, Ford ruminates on possible alternate titles to “The Saddest Story,” the name under which a portion of the book appeared in Wyndham Lewis’s literary magazine Blast in 1914. Lane felt that "The Saddest Story" sounded too depressing and would hinder sales; Ford quips that perhaps they should rename it "The Roaring Joke." In the second letter, Ford characterizes the work as a "serious analysis on the polygamous desires that underlie all men" before commenting sarcastically that "the book would be proper reading for Birkenhead Police recruits who, by recommendation of the Home Office, must all be men of mature years." Both letters are signed with Ford’s legal name, Hueffer; he adopted Ford in 1919 allegedly because he felt Hueffer sounded too German.

Together with a later printing of The Good Soldier, lovingly inscribed to the dedicatee of this edition, Esther Gwendolyn “Stella” Bowen: To my always dear Stella, 16 April 1928, Ford Madox Ford.  (The first edition, published in 1915, contained no dedication and no known dedication copy exists of the limited edition issued in 1927.) Bowen was Ford's next romantic interest after Hunt, and when they met and fell in love in 1918, Bowen was 24; Ford, 43. They never married, but traveled together as a couple – and raised a daughter together (Julie, born in 1920) – until they parted ways in Paris a year before the date of this inscription. Largely because of her association with Ford, Bowen enjoyed moderate success as an artist and art critic in the years that followed, and published a successful autobiography in 1941. 

Finally, some interesting ephemera from the book’s later promotional history: nine index cards, ca. 1951, each containing this typed statement: “Ford’s The Good Soldier is one of the fifteen or twenty greatest novels in English produced in our century” and signed and annotated by notable authors of the day. Evelyn Waugh amended the statement to say “I think Ford’s The Good Soldier is one of the finest novels in English written in this century”; and hilariously, Christopher Isherwood offered his dissent, writing, “Sorry, but I don’t agree. Though I would gladly have signed such a statement regarding Parade’s End.” Other enthusiasts include poet Horace Gregory, Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Jean Stafford, and longtime literary editor of the San Francisco Chronicle, Joseph Henry Jackson.

Waiting for Godot

Waiting for Godot Waiting for Godot Waiting for Godot

WAITING FOR GODOT
FROM BECKETT TO RICK CLUCHEY:
TWO PROMPT BOOKS AND A 1965 BERLIN THEATER PROGRAM

A fascinating trove of theater history, chronicling the unlikely friendship between a playwright and an ex-con, and the professional relationship that yielded numerous artistic collaborations.

Rick Cluchey was serving a life sentence for kidnapping and robbery at California’s San Quentin prison when he saw a visiting production of Waiting for Godot in 1957. Inspired by the performance, Cluchey and several other inmates formed a dramatic troupe called the San Quentin Drama Workshop, and staged Godot themselves. The SQDW became known for their dedication to Beckett’s plays, in particular the cycle of Godot, Endgame, and Krapp’s Last Tape, and after Cluchey’s parole in 1966, they continued performing Beckett throughout the United States and Europe.

Beckett was aware of the play’s unusual connection with prisoners: In 1954, he received a letter from a convict about a 1953 production of Godot at the Lüttringhausen Prison in Germany. Intensely moved by the man’s reaction, Beckett became singularly attentive to performances of his plays by inmates. He became involved with the SQDW following Cluchey’s December 1974 invitation to attend a performance of Endgame in Paris. Three years later, Beckett himself directed Cluchey in Krapp’s Last Tape in Berlin, and in Endgame in London in 1980 (Cluchey’s wife, Teresita Garcia Suro, was also in the cast).

Outside the theater, a warm relationship developed between Beckett and the Clucheys, with the playwright providing financial and moral support to them over a period of many years, and Cluchey and Garcia Suro naming their son after him.

This close, almost familial connection is readily apparent in Beckett’s inscriptions to Cluchey in the prompt books and program included in this archive:

• The copy of Waiting for Godot (Grove Press, 1954, sixteenth printing) used as a prompt-book for numerous productions spanning two decades staged by the SQDW – including Beckett’s own – inscribed by both Beckett and Cluchey. Beckett's note on the title page reads: With love for Rick / from Sam / Sept. 1988 and beneath, Cluchey added: Rick Cluchey / Samuel Beckett / San Quentin Drama Workshop Godot Production. / 1963 — 1983 / Stage Book.

The script is heavily annotated by Cluchey and was used in the landmark 1975 Berlin production at the Schiller Theater, which was the first that Beckett himself directed. Also notable: the cast included the two actors who originated the roles of Vladimir and Estragon in the premiere performance in 1965 (Horst Bollman and Stefan Wigger).

Beckett had long believed the play to be confusing and clumsily visualized, and he used his directorial debut to clarify both the text and stage directions. Cluchey was invited to observe the rehearsals, and dutifully recorded all of Beckett's adjustments; the text is copiously marked up with underlined passages and notations, revealing the extensive revisions Beckett made to his original work, including dialogue changes, the excision of entire scenes, new directorial emphases, and alterations to the staging.

• A copy of Waiting for Godot (Grove Press, 1954, first printing), annotated by Cluchey and inscribed by Beckett on the title page: for Rick / with love / from Sam / London / 1.3.84.

This later prompt book directly reflects the significant, Beckett-generated emendations the author made to the 1975 version, and includes additional notations and alterations.

In early 1984, Cluchey’s SQDW was invited to perform Godot at the Adelaide Festival in Australia, but funding for both the trip and the production was predicated on Beckett’s involvement. As a compromise, Beckett agreed to oversee a staging directed by his friend Walter Asmus, who had served as his assistant director for the 1975 Berlin presentation, and for two weeks he supervised rehearsals at Riverside Studios in London, with Cluchey playing Pozzo.

• The theatrical program for the 1965 production of Godot at the Schiller-Theater in Berlin, illustrated with black-and-white photographs throughout. Beckett inscribed the program: for Rick & Teri / with love / from Sam / Paris, Oct. 88.

Interestingly, the 1965 production of Godot was not the first in Germany: an authorized staging, based on an inmate’s own translation of the French edition, took place in 1953 at the Lüttringhausen Prison, near Wuppertal, and another, more formal performance was presented at the Schlossparktheater in Berlin the same year. However, the Schiller-Theater’s iteration was not only directed by Beckett’s friend Deryk Mendel, with text by his favored German translator Elmar Tophoven (Warten auf Godot), but was also attended in rehearsal by Beckett.

Robert Perkins: Limited Signed Lithographs

Robert Perkins: Limited Signed Lithographs

Bunting, Basil and Robert Perkins (artist). ["Perche no spero."] [New York: Glenn Horowitz Bookseller], 1983.

Robert Perkins: Limited Signed Lithographs

Merrill, James and Robert Perkins (artist). ["McKane’s Falls."] [New York: Glenn Horowitz Bookseller], 1983.

Printed by master lithographer Maurice Sanchez and published by Glenn Horowitz Bookseller in 1983, “Perche no spero” and “McKane’s Falls” are two of many collaborations between artist, documentary filmmaker, and author Robert Perkins and some of the 20th century’s best poets – among them, Basil Bunting, James Merrill, Seamus Heaney, John Ashbery, Octavio Paz, and Robert Lowell. Of the artist Robert Perkins, James Merrill has said that his “great success is to have created a narrative medium in which the heaviest burden floats easily, like a canoe in water.” 

Each lithograph is limited to 40 numbered copies, signed by the poet and artist. For "McKane's Falls," Merrill worked on lithographic stones in Sanchez’s studio, and for "Perche no spero," Bunting at home with wax tablets. Each production is an arresting visual interpretation of the poet's words. 

Lithograph; 32 x 19 inches. $750 each. 

To order, please email info@glennhorowitz.com.

Write a Madder Letter if You Can: the Letters of Jack Kerouac to Ed White, 1947-1969

Write a Madder Letter if You Can: the Letters of Jack Kerouac to Ed White, 1947-1969 Write a Madder Letter if You Can: the Letters of Jack Kerouac to Ed White, 1947-1969

A catalogue documenting an important collection of five dozen lengthy letters and postcards written by Jack Kerouac to Ed White, the majority unpublished and composed prior to the 1957 publication of On the Road. White and Kerouac met in 1946 as undergraduates at Columbia University and White’s suggestion that Kerouac spontaneously “sketch” his ideas in a pocket notebook greatly impacted his friend’s narrative style – Kerouac would later confess to Neal Cassady, “It’s the only way to write.” These letters chart an important friendship from its Columbia days onward and document the writing and publication of Kerouac’s major novels.

93 pp.; 6 x 9 inches; pictorial wrappers. $25

See also: our catalogue of Kerouac's correpsondence with Neal Cassady and other friends: http://www.glennhorowitz.com/catalogues/this_isnt_folly_this_is_me

The collection is available for sale en bloc. For further information, please email info@glennhorowitz.com