For Tennessee Williams, Rome was a story of 'longtime love, "the capital of my heart " with its "stainless blue " skies and cathedral domes "bathed in golden light.
Sometimes he worried about how the Romans felt in return.
Honored around the world as a playwright, Williams also wrote dozens of short stories . A rarely seen play, "The Summer Woman ", set in Italy, appears this week in the fall issue of the literary quarterly The Strand Magazine.
This archive photo from November 11, 1940 shows playwright Tenn essee Williams in front of his typewriter in New York. Rare newsWilliams's view of "The Summer Woman " appears in the Fall issue of The Strand Magazine literary quarterly. (AP Photo / Dan Grossi)
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"The Summer Woman " was written in the early 1950s and tells the story of an American scholar, "the remarkably young head of the English department at a major university in the South, " "who frequently visits Rome and hopes to find an Italian lover whom he had met " in the street "and whom he had supported financially in the hope of keeping her " off the streets "
"There in Europe, mainly Italy, he had his other life, the existence his heart yearned for: bohemian, sensual, not at all academic, not the least bit reserved, " Williams wri tes. "He hadn 't found that other life thanks to a mighty and vast genius for it. It had been given to him by someone else, a Roman girl named Rosa. She had taken it by his fingers cold and nervous and had driven him to this country and made it quickly to his home there. "
Mississippi native who turned " A streetcar named Desire " and other plays in the southern United States, Williams identified strongly with Italy, seeing it as an escape from conviction - and his own unwavering "sense of guilt " - whom he faced in the United States as a gay man. He lived in Italy for several years after WWII and wrote often about passions and clashes between Americans and Italians, whether in the play "The Rose Tattoo ", the novel "The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone "or the new " Man Bring This Up Road.
Robert Bray, Founding Director of Tennessee Williams Annual Review, noted that Williams' attachment to Rome became very personal: his partner Frank Merlo was of Sicilian descent and he formed a close friendship with Italian actress Anna Magnini, who starred in the film version of "The Rose Tattoo ".
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But "The Summer Woman " is a snapshot of a country in recovery still war and no longer welcomes A Americans. The protagonist remembers hearing friendly cries of "Hi, Joe", but this time he is greeted with calls of "coco", an insult referring to a biological weapon - the coccobacillus - that Americans allegedly used during the war. war. against North Korea. He wonders what happened to people who seemed "sweeter" than in other countries.
"This is a dimension of Williams that I think most readers don 't have much knowledge of, " says Andrew Gulli, editor-in-chief of Strand. "We see Tennessee Williams as the chronicler of faded greatness, anguish and weakness, but his travels and interactions show just how a versatile observer he was of how American foreign policy was viewed in the world. the world. "
On a draft manu for " The Summer Woman ", Williams had another work titled:" The Marshall Plan, "referring to the massive aid program that the United States have set up for European countries. In a 1948 letter to New York Times theater critic Brooks Atkinson, Williams worried about the dire conditions of Italians and expressed concerns that could have easily applied to contemporary Afghanistan.
"It honestly seems that 70% of the Italian population are beggars and prostitutes, families live in the roofless shells of buildings in bombed-out cities like Naples " he wrote to Atkinson.
"I think if we had made real sacrificial efforts to alleviate the plight of Europe, the Communists would have no appeal. Governments led by weak and bland opportunist personalities, rooted in no party, politics or defined philosophy, are natural and easy prey for extremists. "