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2 - O'Neill's philosophical and literary paragons

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 May 2006

Michael Manheim
Affiliation:
University of Toledo, Ohio
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Summary

Against the wall between the doorways is a small bookcase, with a picture of Shakespeare above it, containing novels by Balzac, Zola, Stendahl, philosophical and sociological works by Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Marx, Engels, Kropotkin, Max Stirner, plays by Ibsen, Shaw, Strindberg, poetry by Swinburne, Rossetti, Wilde, Ernest Dowson, Kipling, etc.

Rarely has a writer been so explicit about his literary preferences in a fictive work. Edmund Tyrone's bookcase in Long Day's Journey Into Night tells us what his alter ego, the young Eugene O'Neill, was reading round 1912. Significantly, Shakespeare is present only in the form of a picture. His collected works are found in the living room's other “large, glassed-in bookcase,” representing the contrasting taste of James Tyrone, Edmund's father. Naturally, O'Neill has arranged the two book collections to fit the generation conflict in the play: old versus new values.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1998

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