Tennessee Williams Short Story 'Crazy Night' Found 80 Years Later

Tuesday, 25 Mar 2014 11:43 AM

By Ken Mandel

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A newly discovered short story by famed writer Tennessee Williams was published this week, about 80 years after it was believed to have been written.

The story, "Crazy Night," appears in the latest issue of The Strand, a publication that calls itself "the magazine for mystery and short story lovers."

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Set on unnamed campus during The Great Depression, "Crazy Night" describes an intimate relationship between the narrator, a college student, and "Anna Jean," before she leaves him for another student. The female main character is believed to have been inspired by Anna Jean O'Donnell, who Williams briefly dated while attending the University of Missouri, according to the BBC.

At a time when sexual encounters weren't discussed in literature, Williams wrote openly about the topic. "Crazy Night" features a description of the narrator and Anna Jean enjoying "the ultimate degree of intimacy," according to the Associated Press. 

"Both her arms were lifted toward me," Williams wrote. "I had fallen between them. And the rest of what happened between us was a blind thing, almost involuntary, drawing from us both something that seemed hardly a part of ourselves."

Williams is thought to have penned the work in the 1930s, while in his 20s.

The 14-page manuscript was found by The Strand Managing Editor Andrew F. Gulli at the University of Texas at Austin's Harry Ransom Center. Gulli told CNN that he was researching Williams when he unearthed some of the writer's personal papers and documents.

"I thought it was captivating," Gulli said. "It's raw but has a fresh voice and shows a great deal of maturity for his age."

Williams, who died in 1983, is one of the most revered American playwrights. He wrote  "A Streetcar Named Desire," "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" and "The Glass Menagerie." He tackled subjects such as rape, incest and homosexuality in his work. He won the Pulitzer Prize twice.

"Crazy Night" was completed long before his major literary successes. Gulli told CNN that he has also discovered previously unpublished works from Agatha Christie, Joseph Heller, Robert Louis Stevenson, H.G. Wells, and Mark Twain.

The Williams find sheds some light on the renowned author's personal life.

"To me, it's a great highlight to find something new from somebody I grew up revering," Gulli told CNN. "To me he's as relevant today as he was when his works were first published."

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