A rare Tennessee Williams story set in Italy after WWII | WGN 720 radio

New York (AP) – For Tennessee Williams, Rome has been a long-standing relationship, in the “capital of my heart” with the “stainless blue” sky and the dome of the “golden light” cathedral. low.

Every now and then he worried about how the Romans felt in return.

World famous as a playwright, Williams has also written dozens of short stories. The rarely seen work “The Summer Woman” set in Italy will be featured this week in the fall issue of The Strand Magazine, a quarterly literary magazine.

“Summer Woman” was written in the early 1950s and is an American scholar who frequently visits Rome and wishes to reunite with an Italian lover he meets, “a very young chair of the English department of a major university in the south. He supported her financially “in the street”, hoping to take her away “from the street”.

“In Europe, mainly in Italy, he had another life. He was a coveted being. Bohemian, sultry, not at all academic, at least not modest, ”Williams said. Is writing. “He had never found another life thanks to a mighty and vast genius against her. It was given to her by someone else, a Roman girl named Rosa. She gave it to him. I took him with my cold, nervous fingers, took him to the country and immediately sent him home. “

A native of Mississippi, who staged “A Streetcar Named Desire” and other plays in the southern United States, Williams saw Italy as a blame loophole and faced his own unwavering “guilt” in the USA. As a homosexual. He lived in Italy several times in the years following World War II, with the play “Rose Tattoo”, the novel “Mrs. Stone’s Roman Fountain ”, or the short story“ The Man Takes This on the Road ”.

Robert Bray, founding director of Tennessee Williams Annual Review, said Williams’ attachment to Rome has become very personal. Her partner, Frank Merlot, is a descendant of Sicily and has formed close friendships with Italian actress Anna Magnini, who starred in the film version. “The Rose Tattoo,” Bray said, Williams is “committed to the sexuality of young Italian men and the ease of relationships between men than returning home to the United States more constrained.”.

But “Summer Women” is a cliché of a country still recovering from war and no longer welcoming Americans. The protagonist remembers hearing the friendly cry of “Hello Joe”, but this time he is greeted by the call “Coco”. It is an insult that refers to Cocobatils, a biological weapon allegedly used by the Americans in the war against North Korea. He wonders what happened to those who seemed “softer” than in other countries.

“This is one aspect of Williams that most readers don’t think they know much about,” says Andrew Galli, editor-in-chief of Strand. “We think of Tennessee Williams as a recorder of declining greatness, anxiety and weakness, but his travels and interactions are about how he viewed American foreign policy in the world. It shows that he was a versatile observer. “

In the manuscript project for “The Summer Woman”, Williams had another working title, “Marshall Plan”. It refers to the large-scale aid program that the United States has put in place for European countries. In a 1948 letter to New York Times theater critic Brooks Atkinson, Williams expressed concern about the dire conditions of Italians and could easily apply it to modern Afghanistan.

“Honestly, 70% of the Italian population are prostitutes and prostitutes, and families seem to live in the roofless shells of buildings in bombed-out cities like Naples,” he told Atkinson. wrote.

“I have the impression that the Communists would not have been attractive if we had made a real sacrificial effort to ease the pain of Europe. As it is, their real misery. People in the situation are embarrassed by the swinging puppet government led by weak and insipid opportunists who are not rooted in definite parties, policies or philosophies, and are the natural and easy prey of radicals. “

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Strand Mystery Magazine: home page

A rare Tennessee Williams story set in Italy after WWII | WGN 720 radio

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