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Sweet Bird of Youth

3.74  ·  Rating Details ·  1,823 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
As New York Newsday describes: "Its two central characters are the Princess, an aging motion picture actress in flight from her latest screen disaster, and Chance Wayne, a young hustler whom she has picked up. Taking advantage of her drunkenness and his youth and good looks, he manages to lure her to the Southern town of his birth in order to see again a young girl with wh ...more
Paperback, 72 pages
Published October 1st 1998 by Dramatists Play Service (first published 1959)
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Mar 07, 2012 Anelis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: theater, reviewed
Is it because I'm not a man? Is it because I'm not living during the early 20th century? Is it because I'm only in my early 20s? Is it because I'm dumb?
Some of the previous statements must be true, because I couldn't relate to any character in this book.

Sure, I can understand most of them, Williams has done a great job. Their motives and emotions are crystal clear to the viewer...but I couldn't care less.

The washed out, formerly stunningly handsome man tries to make it big, but is bitch-slappe
May 08, 2012 Jim rated it it was amazing
It's been a while since I've read any of Tennessee Williams's plays. As I finished the last act, I realized that his was not a gossamer reputation: There is something real about that sad, strange outsider who recognizes the same qualities in his readers. It has been quoted many times before, but Chance Wayne's closing lines as he faces the punishment for his many offenses encapsulates perfectly what Williams is all about:
I don't ask for your pity, but just for your understanding—not even that—no
Sarah Elizabeth
Apr 14, 2017 Sarah Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I related so deeply tears sprung to my eyes. Such a tragic, tragic piece--but, as typical of Williams, it has such great beauty. I want to read this again when I am past my youth.
Todd Evans
Sep 29, 2011 Todd Evans rated it really liked it
Chance Wayne Dwelling in the Past
Chance Wayne in Tennessee Williams’ play Sweet Bird of Youth is clearly no longer the praised figure that he once was in the town of Saint Cloud. Citizens of Saint Cloud used to adore and respect Chance, but now they repute him because of his past life decisions and his past sexual relations with Heavenly. Now, this former “Oklahoma” star desperately longs for his prestige back, but most of all he wants to rekindle his loving relationship with Heavenly and escap
Jun 16, 2016 rebecca rated it really liked it
I don't know what to write other than I really enjoyed this. I especially loved the stage directions (I'm not entirely sure why) & there were a lot of excellent quotes in the play about time and life.

The main reason why I haven't given this book 5 stars is because I have a fear of giving out too many five star reviews to books.

Maybe I'll write up a better review later, but I think that this basically sums up my thoughts.
May 25, 2014 Realini rated it really liked it
Sweet Bird of Youth by Tennessee Williams

Sweet Bird of Youth – what a beautiful title. I love it so much that I have been using it to label some the photos of my…birds of youth aka macaws.
To my surprise, this book has only 22 reviews (we’re talking 2014, May) on goodreads. Compared with my previous look at The Merchant of Venice, which had 1400 reviews, this seems to make The Bird somewhat obscure for goodreads readers…
And goodreads seems to be gaining traction, on the internet.
Is it the book, o
Apr 15, 2016 Amy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Tennesse Williams has such a poignant way of writing about lost dreams and lost youth. This sounds similar to his characterisation of Blanche DuBois in A Streetcar Named Desire, but in Sweet Bird of Youth almost every character is suffering from the loss of youth, and from chasing unrealistic and unattainable dreams. As the title would suggest, this play is about the theme of youth much more than Streetcar is, and the ending where Chance and Princess are discussing the nature of time passing is ...more
Duffy Pratt
Apr 29, 2010 Duffy Pratt rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: play
This is William's meditation on aging, and its about as bleak and unrelenting as you could imagine. He offers a stark picture of what it's like to lose the illusions, the hope, and the romance of youth. And in its place? Perhaps, there is something in recognition and understanding, but its not much.

The characters, as always, seem like variations on other Williams staples I have seen, most notably with Boss Finley being a kind of riff on Big Daddy from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Here, I can't say th
Apr 07, 2013 Bryan rated it it was amazing
p. 105 "I believe that the silence of God, the absolute speechlessness of Him is a long, long and awful thing that the whole world is lost because of. I think it's yet to be broken to any man, living or any yet lived on the earth - no exceptions"
Patrick McCoy
Oct 17, 2016 Patrick McCoy rated it really liked it
Shelves: plays
Tennessee Williams hit the dramatic pay dirt once again with Sweet Bird Of Youth (1959). It has many of his essentials themes of damaged, self-sabotaging people looking for redemption and finding tragedy. It the kind of play that Williams excels at. It's notable that the original theater production stared Paul Newman as Chance Wayne the prodigal son returning home for his last chance with Heavenly. He is hoping his connection with the aging former superstar actress "The Princess Kosmonopolis"(wh ...more
Brooke Ritchie
May 11, 2017 Brooke Ritchie rated it liked it
A great play of manipulation and betrayal and love with a really interesting plot. Personally I did not find myself invested in the characters which is the main reason I have given it 3/5. I would recommend it, but not over and above other plays of his like A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. I enjoyed reading it and the use of plastic theatre is very interesting.
Anthony Fagan
Feb 21, 2017 Anthony Fagan rated it it was amazing
As a fan of Tennessee Williams, I was hesitant to read this play.Not only have I heard it has one of the greatest first halves of any play, but also one of the worst second halves of any play. I was torn. I'm 26, only a few years shy of Chance Wayne, the protagonist. I feel it's only appropriate to start now, since I'm creeping up to his age.

I found the play to be a wonderful commentary on time and love. Chance Wayne is one of the most inspirational, philosophical characters I've ever read. Eac
Wayward Child
Dec 26, 2016 Wayward Child rated it really liked it
One of Williams’ more depressing plays (though none of them are particularly cheerful), Sweet Bird of Youth manages to perfectly capture our covert longing, our hopeless aspirations, our desperate race against time and age and our ever so shakeable psyche. The characters are all corrupted and tainted in one way or another, not necessarily because they’re bad people, but because they’re chasing paper dreams and have no real platform to jump from. The tragedy of characters such as Alexandra Del La ...more
Jun 19, 2015 Martina rated it it was ok
Shelves: plays
They say third time's the charm, right? Well, my third Tennessee Williams drama cemented me firmly in my opinion that these plays work better as movie adaptations rather than standalone literary works. Here's the proof:

Exhibit A: Cat on a hot tin roof
Exhibit B: A streetcar named desire
Exhibit C: Sweet bird of youth.

Let's talk a bit about Exhibit C. Again, I get the idea behind Sweet bird of youth. After all, the topic of being young and growing old is timeless and often used in literature an
Víctor Galán
"Dulce pájaro de juventud" es una de las obras más famosas de su autor y ha sido interpretada en numerosas ocasiones y tuvo una estupenda adaptación cinematográfica a cargo de Richard Brooks con ese Apolo que es Paul Newman y con Geraldin Page en los papeles principales.
Personalmente no me ha entusiasmado en exceso, tiene partes interesantes pero me parece demasiado estadounidense. Por supuesto, me refiero a que la obra intenta ser una especie de crítica a lo más rancio de ese país pero no puede
Jim Leckband
Aug 01, 2012 Jim Leckband rated it liked it
The main character Chance Wayne addresses the audience at the end and essentially says, Ozymandianly: "Look back on your youth and despair!" Chance had his chance when he was young and fortune never smiled on him. Was it due to character (partly) or was it due to Chance (partly). Whatever the reason, time has done its damage and he is rueful of the present and the future. Prime Tennessee Williams territory!

There is a lot of comedy, satire, and drama in this one. The send-up of the bigot Boss Fin
Dec 06, 2012 J.M. rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Mature audiences
Shelves: drama
Another doomed love affair...

Contains the standard Tennessee Williams dose of sexual weirdness and violence, and characters lost in the consequences of their decisions. Yes, the past haunts us all.

This must have been a deeply personal work, and maybe that explains the 'meta' aspects of it, those moments when the fourth wall is broken. Some of the characters seem to know they're wearing masks, and playing parts. I don't know how effective that aspect of it was, really, and the pessimistic tone ma
Dec 31, 2012 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own, plays
Approaching the end of my Tennessee Williams readings! Hooray! This one is about an aging actress and her gigolo, who is trying to blackmail her for a chance at stardom and a way to get his ladylove (to whom he gives a venereal disease) out of the small Southern town he's from. It was pretty good, mostly because of Alexandra del Lago (the aging actress, who is even more fun in the film in Geraldine Page's more than capable hands), but as with any text (visual or written) with an aging actress in ...more
Oct 06, 2014 Suzie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: this-was-okay, 2015
You know, I can't figure out exactly what it is that I want to criticise about this. I didn't like it, but I also can't pinpoint why or what was wrong with it. There's something about Williams' writing that is just like that. I don't really like what he does, but there's also nothing wrong with it - there's just a tone or SOMETHING that I really don't get and doesn't gel with me. Of the three plays I've read by him, I think this was probably my lease favourite (I like Streetcar best, I suppose, ...more
Nov 05, 2013 Isla rated it it was amazing
I am not sure what intrigued me about this play to such an extent, but it may have been the way Williams discusses the theme of fatality and misfortune. Turning back time will never be possible and sometimes moving on is the only real thing we can do. It was so no happy ending and rainbow story but it was a conclusion. It's worth reading or watching as the conclusion is an entity in itself and promising for a better understanding our decisions
Marina Schulz
May 18, 2015 Marina Schulz rated it it was amazing
It took me a while to get through this one; having seen it in play, I think I wasn't overly excited to read it. But what can I say? Tennessee William's art comes to life dramatized, because his words are words.

Beautifully written, "Sweet Bird Of Youth" is a poignant story with a lesson learnt; don't cry over the past, don't bother holding on to it, and don't blame it on time missing. Youth isn't wasted on the young, it's you who doesn't take the chance. Lead your own way, and make due.
Jan 29, 2017 Zarah rated it liked it
Spent most of my time confused about what was going on because I wasn't really focusing on it, but then I sat down, surrounded by silence and actually read it. the latter half was significantly more entertaining and profound. The imagery was striking and there were many poignant moments. I did end up enjoying it, I may need to read it again in the future to get a deeper understanding and appreciation for it.
Jan 25, 2016 Mhinchley rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
This was the first Tennessee Williams play that I have read, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The play tells the story of Chance Wayne a gigilo and a wannabe actor who comes back to his home town to try and get back with his childhood girlfriend.

Full of angst, self pity and desperation, Chance is not a likeable character, nor are the characters that surround him. But this is still a touching story and an easy read for a lazy Sunday afternoon.
Aug 26, 2013 Flave rated it liked it
Shelves: wilde-y, classic
Compared to "A Streetcar named desire" this was quite disappointing. It seems as Williams is anxious that the reader understands what the story is all about: Lost youth. And therefore every single character says it over and over again: Take care, in some years you'll be old and lonely and nobody will give a damn about what you've achieved. Ok, I got the message but I felt kind of betrayed because I wasn't given any time to get the message of the book myself.
Aug 23, 2010 Albert rated it really liked it
Another reliably brilliant work by Tennessee Williams, that is if you like reading his plays. Sure they are a bit specific with the stage directions, but that is what gives them more of a novelistic appeal, which I appreciate in most cases. At least he is a writer with a vision which is pretty rare.
Ana Paula Savioli
A minor success by Williams. This books deals with the youth that people lose and can never be recovered, and that takes success and happiness with it. In a attempt to regain his popularity and his girlfriend, the character tries to seem to be who he isn't and to be famous.

It's interesting in a way, but in my opinion superficiality is exaggerated.
Nov 08, 2010 Hannah rated it liked it
Strange and confusing beginning, but once I read more into it, the more I understood the plot. The one criticism I have of Williams' plays is that he lays the themes too much on you. I like having to look for the themes and symbolism, but when they are blatantly shown, it gets boring and there is no intellectual discussion about it.
Oct 18, 2014 Roland rated it liked it
An interesting play with a despicable lead. I get that he's a dreamer, but Wayne's blackmail of the Princess and the way he uses people really hammers home his reputation in his hometown. I never once wanted this "dreamer" to succeed. This play is like a grotesque, with every character a bit ugly. I liked it, but overall it's not one of his best.
Apr 05, 2015 Bradley rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
Sweet Bird of Youth is about a young hustler and an aging actress coming to the hustler's hometown on Easter Sunday. The actress is hiding from the press after a disastrous public appearance. The hustler is there to try to win back his one true love. This is a Tennessee Williams play so it's filled with Southerness.
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Thomas Lanier Williams III, better known by the nickname Tennessee Williams, was a major American playwright of the twentieth century who received many of the top theatrical awards for his work. He moved to New Orleans in 1939 and changed his name to "Tennessee," the state of his father's birth. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for A Streetcar Named Desire in 1948 and for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof ...more
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“I think that hate is a feeling that can only exist where there is no understanding.” 246 likes
“I don't ask for your pity, but just for your understanding – not even that – no. Just for some recognition of me in you, and the enemy, time, in us all.” 13 likes
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