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He would come out of the study with sunken cheeks, eyes red from weeping--physically and mentally exhausted. Night after night I had to hold him tight in my arms so he could relax and sleep. If I tried to change my position, he would wake and plead with me 'don't go, please--hold me tight.' Thus, the play was written--it was a very large part of him.Like so many writers during this time, the playwright had been profoundly affected by the Great Depression and Second World War. Read against the backdrop of hunger and unemployment and black-booted soldiers raising swastikas, the plays and manuscripts written at Tao House offer no panaceas, no social or political remedies. His characters were cast adrift in a world without anchors. They could survive only when they put their trust in one another, no matter how delusionary or hopeless their dreams appeared to be. Tao House regrettably was not O'Neill's final home or harbor. The war changed that. The servants, including Herbert Freeman, the couple's trusted handyman and chauffeur, left to enlist in the military or to enter the war industries. Neither Carlotta nor Eugene could drive. Gasoline rationing made errands difficult, and the increasing severity of their ailments left them "...just about marooned on our hill now," wrote Eugene in early 1943. By this time, a neuromuscular disorder had begun to cause severe tremors in his hand, making it difficult and sometimes impossible for him to write. His writing became increasingly microscopic. The tremor was a veritable death knell for O'Neill's career since he could neither type nor dictate his material. In 1944, the couple sold Tao House and returned to the East Coast, where Eugene's inability to write, the suicide of his son Eugene Jr. and the couple's constant quarreling made life unbearable and separation inevitable. Eugene and Carlotta would reconcile shortly before his death. His life ended, as it had begun, in a Boston hotel room, where he died with Carlotta by his side on November 27, 1953. His last recorded words, spoken perhaps with the memory of his creative years at Tao House in mind, were: "Born in a hotel room, and God damn it, died in a hotel room." Eugene O'Neill received the Nobel Prize in Literature "for the power, honesty and deep-felt emotions of his dramatic works, which embody an original concept of tragedy." As an artist, he was absolutely committed to laying bare humanity's maimed soul, with divulging the truth no matter how painful, delusional or contrary it might be. His vision was tragic. The characters in his plays struggle with their private sins, personal obsessions, broken dreams and conditions--with forces, unconscious and incomprehensible, that pull them down. But he was never a fatalist because people in his plays, as in his life, possess the capacity to make choices. "Tragedy...gives Man a tremendous significance," he once said, "(and) fate can never conquer his--or her--spirit." Please continue reading Victor Walsh's "Behind The Article" interview to find out more about Eugene O'Neill's Tao House. * More Articles on Asian Influence Divine Inspiration at The Oriental Hotel in Bangkok A Murakami-esque Day: Banalities & Absurdities in Beijing China's Lin Yutang: Caught Between East and West Purchase Ereaders Buy Eugene O'Neill Ebooks Travel to San Francisco Get the best Digital Cameras and Travel Cameras Take an Eugene O'Neill Tour Visit Historic Hotels in San Francisco Discuss Eugene O'Neill on LiteraryTraveler.net
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