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Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955)

af Tennessee Williams

Andre forfattere: Se andre forfattere sektionen.

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2,572264,393 (4.06)92
For use in schools and libraries only. Maggie the Cat fights for the lives of her damaged and drinking husband Brick, herself, and their unborn children in the revised version of the dramatization of Big Daddy's birthday and deathday party and family gathering.

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On a sultry summer evening family meets and secrets are revealed...so far, so a zillion other plays. Here, it's not really what the secrets are that's interesting, it's who the characters are and where the author's sympathies lie.

The first act slowly winds up to a very dramatic finish and tensions are racked up higher still in act 2. Then something strange happens - act 3 occurs twice! Williams has included his original draft of act 3 and the performance version, modified in response to the original director. It's a bit weird. Over-all I think I like the original version more.

Williams does some things I don't recall ever having seen before; he discusses the audience in stage direction and at one point rambles off into philosophising about the purpose of drama and such like. That comes as a bit of a shock after previously reading no drama except Ben Jonson this year, where-in you're lucky to get anything beyond entrance and exit instructions.

My only other experience with Williams is a production of The Glass Menagerie. There's overlap in theme and setting (the South, isolation) and that experience was excellent - this would clearly be even better in a decent production. I am now keen to pursue Williams a great deal further. ( )
  Arbieroo | Jul 17, 2020 |
probably the more i think about this the more i'll like it, so maybe those stars will increase, but for now: this is a sad little play about a family full of dislike for each other, lies, secrets, greed, and more. i like that it's staged in the same amount of time that it happens in life, which i think is unusual. speaking of the staging - i think i'd like this more (probably much more) if i'd seen it staged. i suspect it's quite powerful when performed.

i liked the unfolding of our knowledge about maggie and brick's relationship - how we don't know why their marriage is broken, just that it is, at first. and we see hints of why but are never 100% sure. (did he and skipper have a gay relationship? did he act on his feelings? did he not feel that way and only feel guilty about skipper's death when skipper revealed his feelings for brick? we don't know for sure, but we suspect.) actually, i like really how it all unfolds; we're given little sips of information, filling in the story that we'd partially told ourselves already, and having to rewrite it each time we get more of the truth. i didn't suspect the dislike between big daddy and big mama. i didn't suspect the scheming of mae and gooper. all in all, it turned my expectations of a family on its head, and that's a good thing.

what i don't understand, in general, is the why of it all. as i think more on it, maybe that'll make more sense to me, and increase my overall feeling for the play because of it. ( )
  overlycriticalelisa | Feb 22, 2019 |
Southern plantation patriarch Big Daddy is celebrating his birthday and the remission of his cancer, and his son Brick and his wife Maggie are getting ready for the party. More or less. Brick has a broken leg and is drunk already. Maggie worries about Brick's brother Gooper and his wife Mae who she believes are trying to cut them out of the estate. And that's not the only tension in the family. And things aren't exactly great between Brick and Maggie either.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a fantastic play with strong characters that give you an intense look at human relationships. And since we're talking Tennessee Williams, it's also depressing as fuck.

Read more on my blog: https://kalafudra.com/2018/05/10/cat-on-a-hot-tin-roof-tennessee-williams/ ( )
  kalafudra | Feb 2, 2019 |
Tennessee Williams

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Methuen Drama, Paperback, 2010.

12mo. lxxiii+130 pp. Commentary [xvi-lxiv] and Notes [122-125] by Philip C. Kolin.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof first published, 1955.
Revised version, 1975.
Reprinted in Methuen Drama with critical commentary, 2010.


Tennessee Williams: 1911-1983

- Cat and the plantation mythos
- Cat and America in the 1950s
- Versions of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof
- Structure
- Language
- Characters
- Production history
- Adaptations of Cat for film and TV

Further Reading

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

‘Author and Director’*
Questions for Further Study

*By Tennessee Williams, first published in Playbill, 30 September 1957.


This is not a review of the play proper but of this particular edition. Knights of the Blue Flag, protect the moral purity of LibraryThing. And keep in mind the sacred warning:

Here be Cats (i.e. spoilers)

If you want but one edition of Cat, this is the one. Mr Kolin’s commentary is extensive and comprehensive. It covers every aspect of the play, including stage and screen productions, and there is always something to learn from it, whether or not you agree with Mr Kolin’s opinions. He has also supplied a few pages of helpful notes explaining cryptic stuff like “Rainbow Hill”, “Spanish news”, “Moon Lake”, “Books of Knowledge”, “Ochsner Clinic”, “hobo jungles”, “yellow dog freight car” and others. Educated American readers, especially Southerners, may find these notes superfluous, but uneducated foreigners (such as the present writer) would appreciate them. Tennessee’s essay “Author and Director” is a nice bonus track, but I do wish “Critic Says "Evasion," Writer Says "Mystery"” (1955) had been included too. It is an incisive reply to some foolish criticism.

The play reprinted here is the 1975 revised version, not the original that hit the Broadway in 1955. There is a long-standing academic debate which version is to be preferred. There is not much to choose between them really. The first two acts are pretty much the same, minor revisions excepted.

The big difference comes in the third act. Tennessee revised it at the request of Elia Kazan who made three proposals: first, Big Daddy is too important a character and must return in the last act; second, Maggie should be made more sympathetic; and third, Brick should undergo some transformation after the brutal scene with his father in Act 2. Tennessee liked only the second suggestion, but he rewrote the final act along all three lines because, he charmingly admits in a “Note of Explanation”, he wanted Kazan to direct the Broadway premiere.

This is why the play is often reprinted, as in the old Penguin Classics edition, with two endings, original and “Broadway” version. Well, the 1975 revision in the Methuen edition is a hybrid, but definitely closer to the Broadway version. Tennessee gave good reasons in his “Note of Explanation” why he rejected two of Kazan’s points, but it seems that by 1975 he had come to agree more with the director than he did in 1955. I think he got wiser with age. All of Kazan’s suggestions improve the play. Ironically enough, Tennessee was content to borrow ideas even from the 1958 movie which he reportedly didn’t like. The famous “odor of mendacity” does not occur in either of his old endings.

Anyway, it makes little difference whether you choose the “Broadway” version or the 1975 revision. The very ending is more upbeat in the former and more ambiguous in the latter, but otherwise they are essentially the same. Of course you are free, in the Penguin edition, to choose Tennessee’s original ending. I personally think it is the weakest of all.

Mr Kolin’s commentary, running to nearly fifty pages, calls for some comment. Let’s begin with the movies, shall we? They provide a convenient springboard.

Mr Kolin is somewhat unfair to the 1958 classic. He notes accurately the major deviations from the original – the happy ending, Maggie’s version of the Skipper case, and the suppressed allusions to homosexuality – but he concludes, curiously, that “Brick’s major problem in the film was not his sexual identity but his estrangement from Big Daddy (Spoto, ‘Commentary’). Family problems became the leading theme in the film version of Cat.”

But who said Brick’s major problem in the play is “his sexual identity”? And who said “family problems” are not the leading theme of the play? Well, Mr Kolin did. But his citing a “commentary” by a gossipy biographer does not inspire confidence in his judgement. The editor also says that “Williams claimed that the film was not faithful to his characterisation of Brick and Maggie”, but he forgets to source that. Let’s look at the play.

First of all, this is definitely a play about “family problems”. Squabbling over inheritance is the proverbial family problem, after all. It is made absolutely clear from the very beginning. Before we know anything about the sexual frustration of Maggie or the disgust Brick is tormented with, she tells us that Big Daddy is dying and Brother Man, Sister Woman and their five “no-neck monsters” are plotting to grab everything: “I’ll tell what they’re up to, boy of mine! – They’re up to cutting you out of your father’s estate...”. One can hardly be blunter than that. This subplot is further developed a great deal, especially in Act 3.

Mr Kolin spends a lot of space on Brick’s alleged homosexuality and his relationship with Skipper. “The ‘mystery’ of Brick’s sexual identity”, he boldly declares, “is at the heart of Cat.” The quotation marks are significant. There is no real mystery. One of the things Brick is disgusted with is that everybody, apparently, thinks he and Skipper are a pair of queens. Well, Skipper might have been a homosexual, there is some mystery about his sexuality. But Brick denies that. He insists that there was between him and Skipper “an exceptional friendship, real, real, deep, deep friendship!”. He is dismayed, indeed disgusted, that people cannot accept that without going into homosexuality. Many people, including some critics, still can’t. Tennessee was prescient indeed!

Mr Kolin and his gang are more stimulating on Brick’s inability to grow up. This is quite common and by no means restricted to homosexuals. Many people refuse to grow up because they can’t cope with responsibilities like work and family. They want, like Brick and Skipper, to remain careless boys forever. But what is one to make of editorial claims like this one:

But Brick, like Blanche DuBois in Streetcar, rejects a homosexual who then commits suicide. This is surely sign of Brick’s deliberate cruelty, the worst sin for Williams.

So refusal to enter into a relationship is “deliberate cruelty”? Because the other party then commits suicide? Fascinating opinion! It is not mine. To the contrary, I think it is deliberate cruelty to enter into a relationship for which you don’t feel strongly. This is not going to last and is bound to produce much greater misery than rejection in the beginning. Reject as kindly as possible and move on. If the rejected party becomes miserable or even commits suicide, that is too bad. But one cannot be responsible for the mental instability of others. (For the record, Blanche didn’t reject her husband. She just caught him red-handed. He couldn’t survive that.)

I deliberately omit the sexual nature of the relationship – for it doesn’t matter at all. Brick certainly blames himself for Skipper’s death. That is an essential part, perhaps the whole part, of his disgust with himself. This again is common for the human animal. Quite a few people are disgusted with themselves, for all sorts of (often foolish) reasons, and find it hard to shake this off. Brick’s reasons are typically inflated. He hung up when Skipper called him, that is all. Not a kind thing to do, but certainly a very minor example of “deliberate cruelty”. But Brick’s disgust is genuine and powerful, however poor the reasons that started it. It is not necessarily linked with homosexuality, though.

If Brick had really been a homosexual, there is no reason why he should not have confessed this to Big Daddy in their great scene from Act 2. The dialogue is quite explicit even by modern standards. Brick flatly calls Straw and Ochello, the former managers of the estate, “fucking sissies”. He also uses words like “queers”, “sodomy” and “dirty old men”. Yet not once does he waver in his rejection of these words when applied to him and Skipper. Big Daddy is ready for the confession. He is a tolerant man. Buggery has no secrets for him. He has witnessed, and probably tried, everything in his youth when he “slept in hobo jungles and railroad Y’s and flophouses in all cities”. For that matter, Big Daddy is an expert in mendacity, too. As he explains in his typically coarse and candid way:

What do you know about this mendacity thing? Hell! I could write a book on it! Don’t you know that? I could write a book on it and still not cover the subject? Well, I could, I could write a goddamn book on it and still not cover the subject anywhere near enough!! – Think of the lies I got to put up with! – Pretenses! Ain’t that mendacity? Having to pretend stuff you don’t think or feel or have any idea of? Having for instance to act like I care for Big Mama! – I haven’t been able to stand the sight, sound, or smell of that woman for forty years now! – even when I laid her! – regular as a piston...

Pretend to love that son of a bitch of a Gooper and his wife Mae and those same five screechers out there like parrots in a jungle? Jesus! Can’t stand to look at ‘em!

Church! – it bores the bejesus out of me but I go! – I go an’ sit there and listen to the fool preacher!


You and being a success as a planter is all I ever had any devotion to in my whole life! – and that’s the truth...

I don’t know why, but it is.

I’ve lived with mendacity! – Why can’t you live with it? Hell, you got to live with it, there is nothing else to live with except mendacity, is there?

But, of course, the wise critics say, Brick is a repressed homosexual, unable to admit or even realise his own sexuality. This is quite possible. But I don’t buy it. I don’t see anything in the text to support it, and I am positive it only dilutes Brick’s character if accepted. Sadly, the critics here receive some support from the author himself. At least twice, first in the essay “Critic Says “Evasion”, Writer Says “Mystery”” (1955) and then in a 1958 interview quoted by Mr Kolin, Tennessee insisted that Brick is a heterosexual, yet he also insinuated that “his sexual nature is not innately “normal”” and that “there might have been unrealized abnormal tendencies”. Well, Tennessee asked for trouble and he got it. His characters continue to be oversimplified to the present day. Ironically, this is what he warned against in that famous stage direction from Act 2:

Some mystery should be left in the revelation of character in a play, just as a great deal of mystery is always left in the revelation of character in life, even in one’s own character to himself. This does not absolve the playwright of his duty to observe and probe as clearly and deeply as he legitimately can: but it should steer him away from ‘pat’ conclusions, facile definitions which make a play just a play, not a snare for the truth of human existence.

Here is the bottom line. If you so much want to make Brick homosexual, you have a case. It won’t hold in court, but otherwise it’ll do. Brick is an “ass-aching Puritan” (Maggie) in his general attitude to sex, and he is certainly prejudiced against homosexuals. If he is dimly aware of “unnatural” desires in himself, this might explain his passionate outbursts of denial. But this is an easy way out. And it makes the play dated: we are less shocked by our sexuality these days, whatever its direction or intensity. I much prefer the disgust theory, disgust with yourself, disgust with mendacity in general. Now that is not a whit dated. It is still very much with us in a multitude of forms.

Going back to the 1958 masterpiece, it seems to me that Mr Kolin is missing the point about both its mild defects and enormous merits. The original scene in the basement, with its relentless harping on “love” (just another four-letter word indeed!), is a little too sentimental for Tennessee. The play is better without it. Mr Kolin mentions the scene, but passes no judgement. On the other hand, I don’t know why Tennessee didn’t introduce Maggie in the confrontation between Brick and Big Daddy in Act 2. The resulting “trio”, as amply demonstrated by Richard Brooks, not to mention Elizabeth Taylor, Paul Newman and Burl Ives, has terrific dramatic potential. This is an improvement over the play. Mr Kolin doesn’t mention the trio at all. Which is ironic, because some of Maggie’s words, if perverted enough, may be taken for a veiled reference to his beloved homosexuality:

Football, baby. The idea of football smelled. Especially the notions of a professional team.

On the whole, Richard Brooks has done an outstanding job with the adaptation, especially when one remembers the stringent censorship at the time. True, his version is less complex and more sentimental than the original, and it does cater to Hollywood’s fetish for happy endings. But this interpretation is consistent, believable and contains some fascinating ideas about character development. The play suffers from long-winded repetitiousness and an overdose of hysteria. The movie does not. Richard Brooks has never been given enough credit for that, including by Mr Kolin in this Methuen edition.

The other two movies, TV productions from 1976 and 1984, are vastly inferior. Mr Kolin’s treatment is superior. He describes Laurence Olivier’s portrayal in the rather badly cut 1976 version as “more like a stately elder Mark Twain or Colonel Sanders projecting an aristocratic Big Daddy”. It was a controversial interpretation, arguably going against what Tennessee imagined as “a Mississippi redneck” (Maggie’s words), and of course the critics hated it. Mr Kolin doesn’t seem to like it either, but I consider it a daring and original portrayal which brings out Big Daddy’s nobility (which Tennessee no doubt also imagined). More problematic are Natalie Wood as Maggie and especially Robert Wagner as an insipid Brick. The 1984 movie is an improvement in terms of fuller and more uncensored text, but a near disaster thanks to “miscasting and misguided acting”. Jessica Lange has her moments as Maggie, but they are few. Tommy Lee Jones surpasses Wagner as the dullest Brick on the screen. The critics praised Rip Torn’s Big Daddy, but I find him stilted.

Mr Kolin has a lot to say about the characters, but I find little worthy of reflection in his description. This is a very different thing than analysis. Analysis is some sort of interpretation, an original contribution. It may be profound or superficial, but you can often profit by it – even if it’s only by way of disagreement. Indeed, it is usually more productive to disagree with somebody. But description is entirely worthless. It tells you only what you can experience in the play. It is equally worthless whether you have read/seen the play or not. But Mr Kolin loves it. He does it with spectacular attention to detail.

Yet he misses important points. Again. For instance, in the Skipper episode he neglects to mention that Maggie makes it clear that she suspects only Skipper of being a homosexual, and an unconscious one at that. When Brick claims the “friendship” with Skipper was “the one great good thing” in his life, Maggie quite agrees with him. She is not even jealous that Brick apparently considers this friendship more important than his love for her. I still think the entirely heterosexual version in the movie is an improvement, but this brief moment in the end of Act 1 makes the Brick-Maggie relationship pleasantly complex. Instead of going into this promising direction, Mr Kolin and his Merry Men speculate about Brick and Skipper having vicarious sex via Maggie’s body. Truly profound stuff!

I must admit Mr Kolin’s rare ventures into analysis do have some value as light entertainment. Big Daddy as King Lear? Now that’s a curious parallel. But the case is thin, I’m afraid. The resemblance is rather superficial. Big Daddy, like Lear, is “proud, valiant”, but, unlike Lear, none the worse for that. He does meditate on mortality, but he doesn’t have anything like Lear’s cathartic experience. He is surrounded by “a family who betray him and by retainers (Reverend Tooker and Doctor Baugh) who lie to him”, but all the same his family situation is nothing like Lear’s. As a last resort, Mr Kolin even notes the storm in the last act. Can you get more superficial than that?

The parallel falls down completely when the “tragic flaw” is examined. In Big Daddy’s case and Mr Kolin’s opinion, this is “his overweening pride, his defiant egotism”. But a flaw can be called “tragic” only if it causes a tragic downfall. Big Daddy’s dying of cancer – hardly his fault. But for that he could live his life forever. He is entirely satisfied with it. He doesn’t have a tragic flaw. He is not a tragic character at all, much less a Lear-like figure.

Mr Kolin is most rewarding on the Southern setting and the historical background. He patiently explains how Tennessee evokes, and at the same time destroys, the myth of the old, aristocratic, chivalrous, patriarchal, antebellum, Gone-with-the-Windish South. There is nothing left of this in the highly dysfunctional Pollitt family. Brick is no gentleman, Maggie is no lady, Mae and Gooper are far worse. Big Daddy is certainly patriarch and a remarkable self-made man. But he didn’t get those “twenty-eight thousand acres of th’ richest land this side of the valley Nile” from his father. He got them from an old gay couple. When one of them died, he became partner of the other. Interpret this as you see fit.

The unusually frank discussion of homosexuality for the 1950s, Mr Kolin contends, is closely linked with the noxious political climate of those dark times. “Gays in particular”, the editor writes, “were targeted by policing agencies such as the HUAC, the FBI, and the military for their supposed Communist leanings. [...] Being labelled gay was a political crime in 1955.” This is hard to believe, but I would take the word of Mr Kolin and his colleagues. If not books and plays, Hollywood was notoriously censored by the likes of PCA (Production Code Administration), the Legion of Decency and the rating board of the Roman Catholic Church. Even heterosexual relationships were toned down and sanitised. Tennessee’s work was a favourite target, at least when it was translated to the screen. Cat (1958), Streetcar (1951) and Baby Doll (1956), while bold and daring for their time, suffered in the hands of prudish censors.

In such society, rigidly homophobic and fiercely promoting family values, Cat must have been a bombshell on the stage. As Mr Kolin concludes:

Because of its homosexuality, alcoholism, adultery, Skippper’s impotence, and Maggie’s sexual aggressiveness, Cat hardly fostered the wholesome virtues espoused by the PCA and the Legion of Decency. The Pollitts were not the models of the happy 1950s American family that the PCA and the Legion wanted to see portrayed on the screen.

Unfortunately, even here the sexual angle is a source of distortion. Mr Kolin has made up his mind that Brick is a closeted homosexual and that’s that. He would not admit any additional, much less alternative, explanation of his behaviour. Mendacity, friendship, failure, love, jealousy are unimportant. So Brick’s “anguish over his sexual identity” and his fear of coming out are – what else? – “illustrating the homophobia of the times”. Indeed, Tennessee “shattered the stereotype that all gay men were effeminate” by making Brick an ex-football star and something of a macho. This is going too far. Tomorrow one of these bright critical minds would make even Stanley Kowalski homosexual. Stella would disagree, but she, poor woman, has no idea that Stanley fantasises about Mitch during those long and passionate nights with her.

If you’re looking for Tennessee’s most uncompromising look at American politics in the 1950s, I suggest you read Sweet Bird of Youth (1959). If you have any moral objections to Big Daddy, wait until you experience Boss Finley! He makes the “Mississippi redneck” look like a saint.

Sometimes I wonder how much of Cat’s smashing success in 1955-6 was mere shock value. The play opened on Broadway on 24 March 1955 and lasted for 649 performances, until 17 November 1956. This is an impressive run. Almost twenty months. There have been five Broadway revivals since. The longest of them lasted a little over five months. And curiously, the newer the revival, the fewer performances it got: 1974-5 (160), 1990 (149), 2003-4 (145), 2008 (125) and 2012-13 (84).

These bland figures are supported by the play’s production history. Mr Kolin quotes the critics profusely and their opinions form an interesting counterpoint. They always praised the cast more than the play. From the beginning they found it confusing, frustrating and vulgar, mesmerising during performance but certainly inferior to Streetcar. By 1990 they were finding it dated. “The 50s sexual tension now seems overripe”, one of them wrote, “its hush-hush attitude toward cancer and scandal over childlessness seems almost quaint.” So it does.

Mr Kolin follows the premiere and all Broadway revivals with the obvious exception of the last one in which Maggie was played by (?!) Scarlett Johansson. I am curious how she measured up to Barbara Bel Geddes (1955), Elizabeth Ashley (1974-5), Kathleen Turner (1990), Ashley Judd (2003-4) and Phylicia Rashad (2008). Bricks and Big Daddys in these productions were Ben Gazzara and Burl Ives (1955), Keir Dullea and Fred Gwynne (1974-5), Daniel Hugh Kelly and Charles Durning (1990), Jason Patrick and Ned Beatty (2003), and Terence Howard and James Earl Jones (2008). The 2008 production made history. It was the first professional all-black cast on Broadway. Since this makes no sense in the historical context of the play, the action was shifted to 1990. The issues are certainly universal enough to justify colourful productions, and I am sure James Earl Jones was worth the price of admission. It is no coincidence, of course, that Barack Obama made history at about the same time.

The British part of the story is a very different affair. The premiere was in 1958 and had to be a club performance, the play having been banned by the Lord Chamberlain. Thirty years passed until a revival. The 1988 production was historic in several ways. It was the first production of a Williams play in the UK for thirty years and the first time Cat was presented in a public theatre. It also boasted an impressive cast with Lindsay Duncan (Maggie), Ian Charleson (Brick) and Eric Porter (Big Daddy). Ironically, at the same time the House of Lords was debating the so-called Clause 28 “banning funding of any art project promoting homosexuality”. Critics and audiences liked the play better than they did thirty years earlier. Cat apparently aged better on the British stage. There was another revival in 2001, reportedly well received, but I cannot possibly imagine Brendan Fraser as Brick!

Mr Kolin is kind enough to spend a few fascinating pages of the worldwide fame of Cat. Two years were enough for the play to reach Sweden (1955), Germany (1955) and France (1957); eventually it was staged even in the Soviet Union (1987) and Communist China (1987). There were many charming oddities everywhere.

The Swedish premiere was directed by the wacky Ake Falck, well-known to music lovers for his controversial films with Alexis Weissenberg and Herbert von Karajan, and it created a storm of moral indignation. Ingmar Bergman also tried his hand at Cat (1955), but didn’t repeat his Streetcar success (1949). The first German production was heavily bowdlerised, the first French one caused a scandal but still managed 192 performances, and the first one in Russian was no doubt given to demonstrate the decadence of the West (but the Russian audience loved it and paid it their greatest compliment: a comparison with Chekhov). The play remains popular in the German-speaking world where a series of productions in 2004-5 were stimulated by anti-American sentiments: a Düsseldorf staging had an American flag burned on Big Daddy’s birthday cake. One risqué production in Vienna compensated for the emasculated premiere in German by having Maggie walking around only in panties, bra and high heels.

Mr Kolin has little to say but the obvious about the structure and the language of the play. And that little is mostly far-fetched, contrived and fanciful. He compares the play to a musical score, but the few musical references scattered throughout hardly justify the comparison. He spends some time on the imagery and the symbolism, but if he says anything revealing, I must have missed it. What I regrettably didn’t miss were some examples of pretentious nonsense. It’s amazing what kind of stuff the critics get away with nowadays:

According to David Savran, Williams used the language of fragmentation and marginalisation to ‘characterise the inhabitants of the [homosexual] closet’. From his gay perspective he ‘configure[d] the female body constantly in danger of disintegrating’ and in the process, ‘throughout Act One Williams’s stage directions teem with Maggie’s body parts, arms, hands, throat’. By doing this, Savran contends, Williams was able to dramatise the homoerotic. Disengaged from a heterosexual, binary anatomy, ‘the absent phallus [Skipper] becomes reinscribed in Maggie’s body and allows her to be produced as the object of [male] desire’. As a result, Brick turns into ‘the castrated male and Maggie the phallic woman’.

I call this “crap”, to use Big Daddy’s language (“bull” in the 1958 movie). But you are welcome to experience the white light of revelation while reading it. David Savran, it should be added, is the legendary author of the epoch-making study Cowboys, Communists, and Queers: The Politics of Masculinity in the Work of Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams (1992). Read at your own peril.

The one thing that impressed me in these sections is the fact that Tennessee “updated and increased the profanities” when he came to revise the play in 1974-5 (e.g. “ducking” became “fucking”). As a consequence, even today the language is sometimes considered too salacious for young audiences. They need an adult to explain some of the subtleties. The Big Daddy of James Earl Jones reportedly shocked even the adult audience with his “unrestrained ribaldry” according to one critic. Another accused him of “ogling Maggie from eyebrows to toenails”. I should love to see that!

So much for the commentary! The play’s the thing. It is very nicely printed in this edition. The layout – characters in bold, stage directions in italics, generous line spacing – is convenient to read. The only trouble is that the stage directions [usually given in square brackets] can occasionally be mistaken for italicised lines of dialogue. No big deal.

To my sacrilegious mind, Cat is not among Tennessee’s best efforts from his halcyon days on Broadway. I have never found it as affecting as Streetcar (1947) or Menagerie (1945), nor do I find Brick, Maggie and Big Daddy as compelling as, say, Chance and the Princess from Sweet Bird of Youth (1959) or the Reverend, Maxine and Hannah from The Night of the Iguana (1962). Cat I classify with The Rose Tattoo (1951) and Suddenly Last Summer (1958) as one of Tennessee’s flawed masterpieces. Stirring, provocative, explosive – but flawed, deeply flawed.

Hence the four stars. Mr Kolin’s commentary is, of course, beyond rating. ( )
4 stem Waldstein | Oct 23, 2018 |
Title: Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Publisher: Secker & Warburg, London


Book Condition:Near Fine
  TeamYankeeKiwi | Aug 17, 2017 |
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Oplysninger fra den engelske Almen Viden Redigér teksten, så den bliver dansk.
Oplysninger fra den engelske Almen Viden Redigér teksten, så den bliver dansk.
And you, my father, there on the sad height, / Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray. / Do not go gentle into that good night. / Rage, rage against the dying of the light. -Dylan Thomas
Første ord
Oplysninger fra den engelske Almen Viden Redigér teksten, så den bliver dansk.
At the rise of the curtain someone is taking a shower in the bathroom, the door of which is half open.
Sidste ord
Oplysninger fra den engelske Almen Viden Redigér teksten, så den bliver dansk.
(Klik for at vise Advarsel: Kan indeholde afsløringer.)
Oplysning om flertydighed
Oplysninger fra den engelske Almen Viden Redigér teksten, så den bliver dansk.
This work refers to separate editions of the play. Please do not combine with omnibus editions which contain other plays also, nor with any other version that does not contain the full original text (e.g. abridged or simplified texts, movie adaptations, student guides or notes, etc.).
Forlagets redaktører
Oplysninger fra den engelske Almen Viden Redigér teksten, så den bliver dansk.
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

Henvisninger til dette værk andre steder.

Wikipedia på engelsk


For use in schools and libraries only. Maggie the Cat fights for the lives of her damaged and drinking husband Brick, herself, and their unborn children in the revised version of the dramatization of Big Daddy's birthday and deathday party and family gathering.

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