Paul Ibell’s new addition to the Critical Lives series from Reaktion Books is a very readable study of one of the greatest dramatists of the twentieth century. Ibell captures the relationship between the dramatist’s biography and work clearly and concisely (his comparison between Williams’s childhood and Larkin’s famous remark about the effect of parents on their children is particularly apt). This is a great introductory volume for those new to Williams’s work as well as for the casual reader, theatre professional or secondary school student. The popularity of Williams’s work on GCSE and A-Level syllabuses up and down the country mean that this volume could have a wider impact: its lively and clear style (as well as affordable price) make it a good read for a teenager eager to stretch their knowledge. Following the foreword, Ibell breaks down Williams’s biography into six sections – beginning with reflections on his early life, and then five chapters which look at the decades of professional writing from the 1940s up until the 1980s (Williams died in 1983). It concludes with a fascinating overview of the afterlife of Williams’s work – ranging from a 1992 episode of The Simpsons to ballet. The volume is richly illustrated with thirty-two photographs. The images of Williams’s family are particularly fascinating, and the combination of modern production images with Ibell’s relation of the respective work’s composition highlights the continuing popularity of the author’s works on the stage. This volume will undoubtedly be of interest to many readers and is a useful guide to a fascinating figure of American literature who created some of the best-loved and most-revived plays of the twentieth-century dramatic canon. © The Author 2018. Published by Oxford University Press for the Court of the University of St Andrews. All rights reserved. The University of St Andrews is a charity registered in Scotland: No. SC013532.
Forum for Modern Language Studies – Oxford University Press
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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