By John S. Bak (auth.)
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Extra info for Tennessee Williams: A Literary Life
And in them, he recorded not only his actions and experiences, which have helped establish and correct much of his early biographical details, but also his inner thoughts and emotions. 25 Written when he was not yet twenty-five, this first entry could have seemingly been penned during any given year prior to his death. Only the reference to his working for a dollar is a dead giveaway that it refers to his years of post-Continental financial strain, when any spending money he was to acquire came not from the stingy Cornelius but rather from the few windfalls of literary contests or the generosity of his grandparents.
55 As with the fact/fiction divide in his earlier prose pieces, Williams evinces here a personal/public divide: he talks about the countries and the people of Europe in his travelogue but only about himself in his Memoirs and, to a lesser extent, in his letters and notebooks. On 19 March 1936, for example, he writes in his private notebook: ‘Oh my, what a blissful exhaustion! I haven’t felt quite like this since that night in Cologne or Amsterdam – when the crowds on the street were like cool snow to the cinder of my individual “woe”.
The piece, whether a journalistic feature story or another attempt at a short story remains uncertain (but the corrector’s handwriting is the same as in the obituary above), is about Fred Welte, a sixty-four–year-old ‘hobo or wandering minstrel’ who is arrested for vagrancy for having broken into the local Episcopal church to play its new expensive organ. Fred is sentenced to ten days in jail, but the sentence carries a silver lining as it will give the complainant, the Reverend Mr Stauffer, time enough to convince his vestryman to hire the hobo as an assistant janitor.
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