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These three dramatic works by Tennessee Williams explore the darker side of human nature and are haunted by a sense of isolation and regret. 'Suddenly Last Summer' is the starkly told story of Catherine, who seemingly goes insane after her cousin Sebastian dies in grisly circumstances on a trip to Europe. 'The Milk Train Doesn't Stop Here Anymore' is a passionate examination of a wealthy old woman as she recounts her memories in the face of death, while in 'Small Craft Warnings' a motley group of people - including a blowsy beautician, a discredited alcoholic doctor, a vulnerable waif and two gay men - sit around a seedy bar on the Californian coast, each contemplating their own desperate fate.
'A classic is a book which has never exhausted all it has to say to its readers' from Why Read the Classics? by Italo Calvino Penguin Modern Classics have been shaping the reading habits of generations since 1961. This 50th anniversary catalogue offers a complete list of all the titles in print across the Modern Classics list, from Chinua Achebe to Stefan Zweig via George Orwell and everything else in between. It also contains Italo Calvino's inspiring essay on what makes a classic a classic.
Tennessee Williams's controversial Hollywood screenplay Baby Doll opens with Archie Lee's teenage bride driving him to distraction, as she has refused to consummate their marriage until the day of her twentieth birthday. Enter wily Sicilian Silva Vaccaro, Archie's rival both in the cotton business and for the affections of the flirtatious Baby Doll, and things reach breaking-point. This volume also contains Something Unspoken, a brilliantly comic study of a wealthy, manipulative Southern spinster, and Summer and Smoke, a sexually charged portrayal of Alma, a sensitive, unmarried minister's daughter, and her childhood love, the wild, sensual doctor's son John.
Abandoned by her husband, Amanda Wingfield comforts herself with recollections of her earlier, more gracious life in Blue Mountain when she was pursued by 'gentleman callers'. Her son Tom, a poet with a job in a warehouse, longs for adventure and escape from his mother's suffocating embrace, while Laura, her shy crippled daughter, has her glass menagerie and her memories. Amanda is desperate to find her daughter a husband, but when the long-awaited gentleman caller does arrive, Laura's romantic illusions are crushed.
Fading southern belle Blanche Dubois depends on the kindness of strangers and is adrift in the modern world. When she arrives to stay with her sister Stella in a crowded, boisterous corner of New Orleans, her delusions of grandeur bring her into conflict with Stella's crude, brutish husband Stanley. Eventually their violent collision course causes Blanche's fragile sense of identity to crumble, threatening to destroy her sanity and her one chance of happiness.
Loneliness, sexual tension and the need for human kindness pervade these three plays by Tennessee Williams, as their characters rage against personal demons and the modern world. In 'Sweet Bird of Youth', a drifter, Chance Wayne, returns to his home town with an ageing movie actress in search of the girl he loved in his youth, but with terrible, violent results. 'Period of Adjustment' tells the story of two young newlyweds who visit the husband's old army friend on Christmas Eve after unsuccessfully consummating their marriage, and unleash forbidden passion, while in 'The Night of the Iguana' a diverse group of people, including a disturbed ex-minister and a troubled spinster, are thrown together in an isolated Mexican hotel for one eventful night.
'Big Daddy' Pollitt, the richest cotton planter in the Mississippi Delta, is about to celebrate his sixty-fifth birthday. His two sons have returned home for the occasion: Gooper, his wife and children, Brick, an ageing football hero who has turned to drink, and his feisty wife Maggie. As the hot summer evening unfolds, the veneer of happy family life and Southern gentility gradually slips away as unpleasant truths emerge and greed, lies, jealousy and suppressed sexuality threaten to reach boiling point. Made into a film starring Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof is a masterly portrayal of family tensions and individuals trapped in prisons of their own making.

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