Tennessee Williams’ “catastrophe of success”

Tennessee Williams

Tennessee Williams

In 1944, at the age of thirty-three, Tennessee Williams scored a soaring triumph with his play The Glass Menagerie. And then? Catastrophe.

That’s not my word, it’s his. He even wrote an essay called “The Catastrophe of Success”, which is nowadays appended to copies of the play.

He could, of course, have used a different word for his success: Impostor. That’s what Kipling called it, and what I’m calling it (as well as disaster) in my book. Williams’ essay is, naturally, in my bibliography.

But why would Williams say that? Success, he wrote, is “a kind of death, I think, and it can come to you in a storm of royalty checks beside a kidney-shaped pool in Beverly Hills or anywhere at all that is removed from the conditions that made you an artist.”

I will add: Or the conditions that made you a warrior, such as Hannibal. Or a politician, or a businessman, or an athlete, or….

3 thoughts on “Tennessee Williams’ “catastrophe of success”

  1. Apropos of nothing, I tried to write about Hannibal while staring at the ceiling last night. I’m not sure it’s the right form for a limerick. Feel free to edit.

    There once was a General named Hannibal,
    ‘til the Romans found his army untenable.
    His tactics were dodgy and favored by chance:
    like his father, he walked behind elephants and never wore pants.

    I have a Haiku, too. But it’s too sad.

  2. My god, Mr Crotchety, you have raised the Hannibal Blog and its comment section up a notch!

    I blush with jealousy that your wit pour itself out so freely.

    I consider this a gauntlet thrown in my direction and will answer with a limerick in due course.

    And I demand the Haiku. 😉

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