Old Man River:  History Along the MississippiApril 19-November 2, 2003

The Arts Along the River

The Literary Scene
Two Pulitzer Prize Winners Along the Mississippi

Bald eagle and alligator crossing sign
The Upper vs. The Lower Mississippi
Faulkner and Williams exhibit section
TYPESCRIPT for "A Streetcar Named Desire" by Tennessee Williams
TRANSFER TICKETS for the actual streetcar named "Desire" in New Orleans
SCREENPLAY for "The Glass Menagerie" by Tennessee Williams
~ Columbia University, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, New York NY

William Faulkner, 1897-1962

"Until he's buried he belongs to the family.
After that, he belongs to the world."
- The Faulkner family, at the death of William Faulkner

This two-time Pulitzer Prize winner and recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature was a man who never graduated from high school. William Faulkner lived in a small town in Mississippi with a large family and an even larger stack of unpaid bills. To make ends meet, he wrote numerous short stories and Hollywood screenplays while his novels gained only sporadic interest until later in his life.

Most of Faulkner's novels are set in the fictional county of Yoknapatawpha, based on his native region in Mississippi. Here he challenged old southern traditions and explored racial issues in such novels as As I Lay Dying, Light in August, and Absalom, Absalom! It is this last novel that literary critics consider one of the greatest American novels ever written. Faulkner died of heart failure at the age of 64.

Tennessee Williams, 1911-1983

"Everything in his life is in his plays, and
everything in his plays is in his life."
- Elia Kazan, Hollywood Director

Another two-time Pulitzer Prize winner grew up along the backwaters of the Mississippi River within a family full of tension, despair, and violence. As a playwright, Williams transposed his own dysfunctional relationships into the family conflicts depicted in "The Glass Menagerie," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof," and "A Streetcar Named Desire." He immortalized New Orleans while exposing many of the hidden problems found behind closed doors.

When "Streetcar" opened on Broadway in 1947, the play shocked its audience - accustomed to the light entertainment popular throughout World War II - with the raw emotions of a post-war world. Pivotal characters Stanley Kowalski and Blanche DuBois were caught within the sticky web of a faded South, facing poverty, changing values, alcoholism, wife abuse, rape, and prostitution. Perhaps because of his own family troubles, bouts with drinking and gambling plagued Tennessee throughout his life, and possibly contributed to his death in 1983.

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Did you know … ?
Thomas Lanier Williams studied theater at the University of Iowa from 1937 to 1938, and supposedly earned his nickname from his college roommate who jokingly referred to him as a Tennessee pioneer.

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This section "The Arts Along the River" has the following related pages:

The Literary Scene
--Two Pulitzer Prize Winners: Faulkner and Williams
--Samuel Clemens / Mark Twain

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2 men in a canoe
Early Exploration and Development
River Days
view of Bellview, Iowa
Riverfront Property
Civil War enenactors
Man vs. Man
Bald eagle and conservation officer
Man vs. Nature
You are here!jazz musician
The Arts Along the River
New Orleans graveyard
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