Edward L. Shaughnessy
The latest book from Edward L. Shaughnessy examines the influence of the playwright’s Catholic heritage on his moral imagination. Critics, due to O’Neill’s early renunciation of faith, have mostly overlooked this presence in his work. While Shaughnessy makes no attempt to reclaim him for Catholicism, he uncovers evidence that O’Neill retained the imprint of his Irish Catholic upbringing and acculturation.
Shaughnessy discusses several key plays from the O’Neill cannon, such as Long Day’s Journey into Night, The Iceman Cometh, and Mourning Becomes Electra, as well as the lesser-known I_le_ and Days Without End.
Winner of the Irish in America Manuscript competition, Down the Days, Down the Nights: Eugene O’Neill’s Catholic Sensibility is a compelling investigation into the psyche of one of the most brilliant, internationally honored playwrights of our time.
“This book is a lucid and humane exploration of American Catholic cultural sensibility. It is also an extremely rewarding read in its own right. The book should be ordered by every librarian who serves the needs of serious English-speaking students from the ages of 16 to 90 who study or read drama, American literature, or religious history.” — Literature and Theology
“Shaughnessy carefully examines the impact of O’Neill’s enduring Catholic mindset on specific plays and, in doing so, enriches our understanding of these works. He puts in perspective as never before the tension between O’Neill’s despair and his desire to believe. Edward Shaughnessy’s achievement is to give us an eloquent, insightful, sympathetic perspective on O’Neill’s relationship to the Catholic faith that is utterly free of academic polemicizing or sectarian axe-grinding. This is a book that will be of enduring interest to readers and and scholars of O’Neill, to students of the theater, and to pilgrim souls of every kind.” — Commonweal