Stephen Bird's Reviews > Endstation Sehnsucht

Endstation Sehnsucht by Tennessee Williams
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's review
Aug 31, 2011

it was amazing
Read from August 15 to 31, 2011

I studied German for four years in high school, and then approximately two years at college level since 2003. I've spent a total of about two months in Berlin over the past two years, and can get by with some basic conversational skills in German. Also, I started listening to Deutsche Welle Radio this year, as often as I can, sometimes for hours on end. That being said, as a German speaker, I'm still far from fluent. But my comprehension of the written language is improving steadily. Hence the basic themes of "Endstation Sehnsucht" ("A Streetcar Named Desire") were clear to me; having seen the film, and the play onstage, aided in my understanding as well. Reading this play, now as a middle-aged adult, I see the characters of Blanche du Bois and Stanley Kowalski existing as a kind of romantic, yet viscerally pornographic, romance in the imagination of Tennessee Williams; in that scenario, Blanche is Williams, and Stanley is William's rough trade fantasy, IE in the mode of Fassbinder's "Querelle"; Williams always identified with his more fragile characters (IE Laura in "The Glass Menagerie" ). Neither Blanche or Stanley are truly evil; both characters struggle to maintain peace between their moral and immoral/amoral sides. And so, these two personae who may seem like opposites on the surface, end up complementing each other. In testing each other's wills, to see who is the strongest, there can only be one winner, and thus Blanche falls. Stanley becomes the stronger due to his more direct expression of his truth, and his ability to stay grounded in reality. I had forgotten how good this play was, and I found myself caught up in its momentum, reading it like a page-turner. I enjoyed re-appreciating this masterwork.
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