Eugene O'Neill's Pulitzer Prize-winning play is regarded by many as his masterpiece and possibly the most influential play of the 20th century.
Set in 1912 at the family home in coastal Connecticut, the drama takes place over one day from 8.30am to midnight of the same day.
Semi-autobiographical, Long Day's Journey Into Night recounts the events, conversations and distress of a severely dysfunctional family who are aware of their demons and aren't able to support each other.
Father James, a successful actor, ageing but still handsome, battles alcoholism. Mother Mary Tyrone, still an attractive lady, has just returned to her family after having treatment for her morphine addiction; elder brother James is trying to deal with alcoholism and younger brother Edmund is awaiting confirmation of his consumption diagnosis. They certainly have a lot of problems to deal with.
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Eugene O'Neill reportedly said that it was his recreation of the day before he was admitted to a sanatorium for treatment for consumption. Like his father and his brother he also suffered from alcoholism and depression.
On completion of Long Day's Journey Into Night, O'Neill is said to have given it to his wife, insisting that it shouldn't be published until 25 years had elapsed.
Remember, this play is set in 1912. While I am hopeful that more than 100 years later we have more effective treatments to deal with the problems faced by the Tyrone (O'Neill) family, I still can't imagine that any one of them would be easy to deal with.
The tragedy is in the suffering. Elder brother James drank himself to death at the age of 45, dying within three years of his parents.
Eugene O'Neill himself suffered significant health issues which must have influenced his writing and I wonder what his plays would be like had he not known such ill health and family distress.
Would he still have received the Nobel Prize for Literature (1936)? Would he have won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama (1957)? Perhaps, but we'll never know.