On 26 March 1980, Tennessee Williams premiered his final play on Broadway, Clothes for a Summer Hotel, a biodrama based loosely on the lives and final days of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. As was his tradition, Williams wrote a pre-opening piece to accompany the opening that was intended for the theater section of the New York Times. On this occasion, the Times refused to publish the essay. Williams had been battling the newspaper’s drama critics for over a decade, and the essay, embittered and oozing with self-pity, bears the wounds he had received from their repeated confrontations. Published here for the first time (the essay had been lost for over three decades), “Mending Sails by Candlelight” is a playwright’s plea for sincere criticism on his play’s own terms and not in comparison to his early great works, such as A Streetcar Named Desire (1947), The Glass Menagerie (1945), and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955).


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pp. 15-28
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