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Suddenly Last Summer
 
by
Tennessee Williams
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Suddenly Last Summer

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  3,776 ratings  ·  59 reviews
Kerr, in the NY Herald-Tribune, describes: "This, says Mr. Williams through the most sympathetic voice among his characters, 'is a true story about the time and the world we live in.' He has made it seem true or at least curiously and suspensefully possible by the extraordinary skill with which he has wrung detail after detail out of a young woman who has lived with horror...more
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Published December 1st 1967 by Signet (first published 1958)
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Connie
This one act play is set at Mrs Venable's house where her deceased son, Sebastian, had a jungle-garden, including carnivorous plants. Sounds of savage beasts and birds add to the mood. Mrs Venable is trying to discredit the testimony of Catherine, her niece, about her last day with Sebastian. She is trying to persuade a doctor to perform a lobotomy on her niece so Catherine will never be able to speak about the events to Mrs Venable's high society friends in New Orleans. After the doctor gives C...more
Duffy Pratt
Williams brings the monsters out in full regalia. The chef de monstre is Violet. She's the grand dame of a New Orleans family. She had an oddly close relationship to her son, Sebastian, who was murdered in Europe the last summer. Now, she wants to cover up the entire murder and to do this she wants to give her niece a lobotomy. This might get her niece to stop telling the truth of what happened. Even if it doesn't stop her from talking, it will probably stop anyone from listening to her or takin...more
matthew
Oct 29, 2007 matthew rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: the strong-stomached
my ex keeps asking me what i love about this play, and i can never articulate it (so don't get your hopes up, here). perhaps it's its concern with involuntary, and incorrect, institutionalisation, or its brutal imagery; perhaps it's its meditations upon what it is to be a poet. whatever it may be, the work stirs many an emotion in me, corny as it sounds.
Craig
The plight of the poet, cruelly crushed by the harsh truth of a world or God too cruel for fancy or eccentricity, is the central tale here. While Sebastian searches for God at the four corners of the globe, provincial life in New Orleans goes on: balls and masquerades, dinners, daiquiris at 5...and none of it enough to inspire passion in Sebastian. It is only the cruelty of the world, and the cruelty of his mother and Cathy in procuring for him, that inspire his annual poems. With his own health...more
Irene McHugh
Originally, I read this play in high school. I went through the motions of pretending that I was shocked by the ending. Really, I was just tired of reading selection after selection from that particular English teacher. I know I wasn't really paying attention to the words, but some of them must have stuck...not in my throat.

I watched the movie Playing by Heart and I understood the reference to this play, but I couldn't recall specific plot details, and it really bugged me. However, I didn't re-...more
Stuart
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Niki
Aug 25, 2009 Niki rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Recommended to Niki by: Playing By Heart movie
Cannibals ate my cousin!!!!!

My reason for reading this play was because I saw the movie Playing By Heart, where Angelina Jolie's character is doing a monologue from this play. The monologue and her description was weird enough that I rented the old movie with Elizabeth Taylor and Katherine Hepburn. I loved that so I read the play. I loved the play too.

I love the drama and the characters and since I'd watched the old movie I had Taylor and Hepburns voices in my head while reading. It was dark an...more
Michelle
i read this in honor of the 28th Tennessee Williams Festival kick-off. the Stella! yelling contest is not to be missed, but jesus wept, this was just perverse and weird. he was probably drunk when he wrote it.
Kfray
This play scared the shit out of me....and I loved every second of it
Meredith
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David
No. That's what I say when I read this. No. This story is too much for me--it has the typical Tennessee Williams psychological tension, and in his other works I can handle it. But this one drives too far, too deep, and to me, he tries too hard. It's Williams's effort to be dark that thwarts the effectiveness of this play, I think. In his other plays, there are moments of relief that really do relieve me. But, in this one, I feel a constant barrage with no relief. There are some attempts at relie...more
علی
ناگهان تابستان گذشته (1958)، مانند برخی دیگر از تک پرده ای های ویلیامز، قصه ای ست پر گره و روان شناختی، چیزی شبیه به چارچوب "باغ وحش شیشه ای" با موضوعی متفاوت. نمایش نامه عمدتن از دو تک گویی بلند تشکیل شده؛ کاترین پس از مرگ مرموز پسرعمویش سباستین در یک سفر اروپایی، پریشان بنظر می رسد. ویولت مادر سباستین که سعی دارد هم جنس گرایی پسرش را در ابهام مرگ او بپیچاند، کاترین را به ضد و نقیض گویی در مورد سباستین و مرگ او متهم می کند، و به گونه ای تلاش دارد او را در مرگ پسرش مقصر قلمداد کند. کاترین که زیر...more
J.M. Slowik
Dec 04, 2012 J.M. Slowik rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Drama students
Shelves: drama
Macabre-- which I like. The plot (an 'insane' niece, Catharine is compelled to tell her aunt Violet the true story of her son Sebastian's death) meanders for a while, though, and you get the sense early on that you'll have to wait for the end of the play to arrive with its Grand Revelation. It's not a long wait, but it still makes everything in the middle feel like filler. Yet I'd like to see this one staged; it's a good example of how set design and scenery can function and relate to a play's t...more
Robin
I don't read a lot of plays these days, though I have been reading more screenplays. I read this one because I am helping a friend with her English homework, but I would have read it even if I hadn't been helping her. I enjoy Tennessee Williams' work, and this play was no different. It definitely had a lot of tension as I was waiting to see how it ended and what the Doctor decided, and I loved the dialogue. It had a great forward flow to it, and it kept you wondering about the truth or what woul...more
Bunnyhugger1
This is just the second Tennessee Williams play that I've read and I'm thinking that histrionic women may be a recurring theme of his. I began by reading aloud trying to get the feel of the play - but there were just too many explanation points! And the breathlessness! And dizziness! "Suddenly Last Summer" is a fairly slight one act play but I can imagine how shocking the subject matter (no spoilers here) must have seemed when it was first performed in 1958 (and apparently the movie that eventua...more
Annie Garvey
Nothing really happens . . . no tension. Does Cathy go back to St. Mary's or get her lobotomy? Why does George's character change at the end? I'm sure he's heard Cathy's story before. Some good quotes though:

"Most people's lives -- what are they but trails of debris, each day more debris, most debris, long, long trails of debris with nothing to clean it all up but, finally death . . ." [This quote sort of sums up Tennessee William's life.]

"We're all of us children in a vast kindergarten trying...more
Lindsay
Haunting. I think about it from time to time. It's probably about time for another go.
Jonathan
This Williams play features a more interesting premise (by which I mean a nondomestic setting): Sebastian has mysteriously died while in Europe with his cousin Catharine. Her story does not sit well with Violet, Sebastian's mother, and she sets out to get Catharine lobotomized. The play is a very interesting mixture of psychological study and mythological allusion and is one of those works that's actually better as a movie. I recommend this and its film version (with Elizabeth Taylor and Kathari...more
Meghan
There's something so deliciously (that is a terrible pun in light of this play) decadently corrupt about Tennessee Williams. I'd only read/seen Streetcar Named Desire before this, and while I can see a few parallels, in the dark, gruesome stories hidden by madness, the exploitation, there's always so much more, lurking just between the surface. Normally I'm much more apt to see a play than read it -- it's written to be performed, after all -- but Williams' descriptions of the sets are so lavish,...more
Kaethe
Perhaps melodramatic, but gripping when well portrayed.
Jim Leckband
Williams really brings out his whole stable of usual suspects in this one. Histrionic Drama Queen Mother? Check. Tortured Gay Artist Misunderstood by Mankind? Check. Superstrong Woman Who Tells It Like It Is? Check. Overt Set and Music Symbolism? Check. Madness and Alcohol? Check.

But, you know, we continue to listen to Tchaikovsky and Wagner and even when we know exactly when the syrupy over-the-top moments are about to occur, we are still swept each time, with a nostalgia of previous sweepings...more
chandra
Jan 21, 2008 chandra rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: fans of the film adaptation
Groud-breaking in that Sebastian, the main character of this play, is dead, and we must rely on the descriptions of other characters to get to know him. this play is really interesting from a biographical perspective and I think it says a lot about how Williams dealt with his own homosexuality. There are some really interesting differences between the film (feat. Elizabeth Taylor and Katherine Hepburn in award-winning performances) and the original text, and I highly recommend reading and then w...more
Chuck
I have been interjecting a number of plays written by Eugene O'Neil and Tennessee Williams into my reading efforts and up until now I had enjoyed the experience. The superficiality of this short play alienated me a little. It is about some rich, superficial people that lived back in a time with which I am unfamiliar and wish to remain that way. It is almost a story about getting a bridge club getting together to decide if they are going to give a lobotomy to someone who forgot to bring the Vermo...more
Judy Templeton-sims
This play was odd, but I kind of liked it. I often like the books better than the movies or in this case plays. But, I think that this play would be intereting to see.

Sebastian Venable, an odd 40 year old, richman. uses his poor (not rich) cousin Catherine Holly, to glorify himself.

I became a fan of Tennessee Williams when I saw the play, The Glass Menagerie on the Detroit, Rita Bell Movie Show, while playing sick from school. It took me 40 years to read the play.

Miggs
Tennessee Willams struggle with his demons illustrate the pain of being outside the norm. I can't reread this play without mentioning the film directed by Eli Kazan. Both are worth reading and watching multiple times. Of note the use of light and shadow in this film so skillfully builds the mood/tension that Williams intends.
Sarah
The foliage like guts. The cute, lobotomizing MD. The ghost of homo-eros. PLUS: A movie starring Liz Taylor's bust and Katherine Hepburn's spotted hands of death. PLUS: A BBC teleplay featuring Maggie Smith and Rob Lowe.
This is a hell of a play with a hell of a legacy. It makes me completely dizzy to think of it.
Lindsay
This play was interesting. Very peculiar and odd but interesting. I am curious to see what the rest of my class thought of this and even more curious to see the movie in class and learn why Tennessee Williams slapped the director when he saw it...... I wonder how badly they screwed it up....
Mahsa
Like all his plays, it was amazing and astonishing with an odd ending. I like this play as I like his other plays.
How Cruel was Mrs. Venable toward Catharine! How mysterious and odd was Sebastian's death, just like that of the sea turtles. The last statement of the play can/cannot be relieving!
Jeff
Of all of our great playwrights, none fail so magnificently, when they do fail, as Tennessee Williams. Everything here smells as if Williams was trying to make some sort of grand philosophical statement , and thus everything is ripe for parody. Just a laughably terrible play.
Mike Jensen
Yep. It’s overwrought and melodramatic. The story is on the edge of credulity, but it is revealing of Williams's mind and the rhythm of so much of the dialogue is like poetry. I find this one irresistible. My fourth reading, and I'm sure there will be another someday.
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7751
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
More about Tennessee Williams...
A Streetcar Named Desire The Glass Menagerie Cat on a Hot Tin Roof The Night of the Iguana (Acting Edition) Summer and Smoke

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“The Venus flytrap, a devouring organism, aptly named for the goddess of love.” 28 likes
“Somebody said once or wrote, once: 'We're all of us children in a vast kindergarten trying to spell God's name with the wrong alphabet blocks!” 13 likes
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