Chapter

Beginnings of American History

Edited by John Patrick Diggins

in Eugene O'Neill's America

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2007 | ISBN: 9780226148809
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226148823 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226148823.003.0005
Beginnings of American History

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Eugene O'Neill became one of the greatest historical dramatists since Shakespeare. O'Neill took American history as seriously as Shakespeare took English history. He approached history the same way many Greek playwrights approached story-telling, as the study of the emotional depths of human nature that may tie the past to the present. Additionally, he put history on the stage, where it could be reenacted as an object of contemplation and moral reflection. As a playwright-historian, O'Neill is no sentimentalist about alien cultures. Working on his Orientalist play, Marco Millions, provided the occasion for O'Neill to draw upon his knowledge of Eastern religions. Furthermore, O'Neill saw the Spaniard's lust for looting and Marco's acquisitive instinct as continuous with American history.

Keywords: Eugene O'Neill; Shakespeare; American history; contemplation; moral reflection; Marco Millions; Eastern religions

Chapter.  7190 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights)

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