A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Drunk

Welcome to The Thread , OZY’s brand-new weekly podcast unlocking a series of linked histories, starting with the murder of John Lennon and stretching all the way back to the Russian Revolution. Subscribe now to follow The Thread on Apple or on OZY.com . It seems like so many great writers, including Ernest Hemingway , Dorothy Parker and William Faulkner, have had their mouths to a bottle as much as their hands on the keys. An extraterrestrial could be forgiven for perceiving alcohol as an occupational hazard for writers, or even some form of literary aid, given how often writing and drinking go hand in hand down literature’s illustrious trail. Faulkner claimed that “civilization begins with distillation,” Hemingway that “a man does not exist until he is drunk.” Another great 20th-century writer who took his art — and his drinking — very seriously was the playwright Eugene O’Neill, often called “America’s Shakespeare.” The only U.S. dramatist to ever win the Nobel Prize for literature, O’Neill almost single-handedly transformed the American theater from vaudeville to fine art, filling its stages with a cast of characters that included prostitutes, sailors, gang members and, yes, plenty of drunks. The playwright deftly captured […]

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