Sunday, August 6, 2006

8/06/06 Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site

Eugene O'Neill(尤金‧歐尼爾)是第二位得諾貝爾文學獎的美國人,也是美國唯一以戲劇家身份得此獎的人。Eugene O'Neill也是唯一一位抱走普利茲戲劇獎(Pulitzer Prize for drama)高達四次的戲劇作家(1920, 1922, 1928, 和1957)。1937到1944年間,他和第三任妻子Carlotta Monterey在舊金山灣區的Danville所蓋的別墅。在這兒,他完成了他生平最後幾部重要的戲劇。

Eugene O'Neill is the second American to receive the Nobel Prize in literature and the only American playwright to do so.  He is also the recipient of the Pulitzer Prize for drama a record 4 times.  From 1937 to 1944, Eugene and his third wife Carlotta built the Tao House here in Danville.  Here, he would write his final plays before he was too ill to write anything.  

他們蓋的這間房子,運用少許的東方哲學和主題。這間房子的名字就叫做Tao House,而大門上就寫著「大道別墅」四個字。


進入Tao House,NPS的ranger會細心地帶你走過每個房間,重現當初這對夫妻的住在這間房子的生活。對於不了解Eugene O'Neill生平的人(我正是其中一位),ranger也會講解他的生平,從他童年講起。

The entrance to the main house from the gate requires visitors to turn through a few right corners.  This was designed by Carlotta, who believed that evil spirits only traveled in straight lines, so this was a method to ward off the evil spirits.   Upon entering the Tao House, the rangers will give a tour through each room of the house, thereby also talking about the life of Eugene O'Neill and also the years at the Tao House, in particular. 

Eugene O'Neill

Eugene O'Neill的父親是愛爾蘭的移民,自己是一個戲劇演員。原本有潛力做為一流的戲劇演員,他卻接了「基督山恩仇記」通俗劇的主角一職,一輩子離不開這個角色。雖然在演藝事業高峰時為家裡賺了不錢,但卻使他完完全全被定型,無法找到別的角色的演出工作。

Eugene O'Neill自幼的成長背景,無疑影響他日後決定做為戲劇作的決定。不過,Eugene O'Neill的生活並不是一帆風順。他年輕時,大學念普林斯頓念了一年就被退學了。他決定在海上討生活,在船上擔任水手,其間到了南美洲各地。


Eugene O'Neill一生結了三次婚,生了兩男一女。不過兩位兒子就如之前所述,中了家族詛咒,有酗酒和毒癮的問題,最後雙雙自殺而死。Eugene的大兒子也叫Eugene,後來在學術上也有成果,曾在耶魯大學任教過。而當他得知大兒子輕生的消息之後,心中更是悲痛不已。

小女兒Oona,沒有遺傳到父親文人的血統,倒是想著到好萊塢去當女名星。在那兒,他遇到了大她37歲的默片巨星卓別林(Charlie Chaplin)。和多位女星緋聞不斷的卓別林和Oona馬上進入熱戀。當Oona和父親Eugene O'Neill提及二人準備結婚的時候,Eugene一氣之下,就和她脫離了父女關係,一輩子都沒有再連絡了。不過,Oona和卓別林的婚姻是幸福美滿的。Chaplin從此擺脫了他風流的形象,就這樣定了下來。Oona和Chaplin,共育有八個小孩,其中Geraldine Chaplin更是後來步上她爸爸影藝的生涯,成為小有名氣的演員,其中演過經典名片「齊瓦哥醫生」(Doctor Zhivago)。不過,Oona,似乎沒有逃過他們家族詛咒的命運。Chaplin過逝之後,Oona也染上了酗酒的問題,最後因為胰臟癌而過逝。

本人的文學素質不甚高,因此Eugene O'Neill的戲劇一部也沒有念過。我後來和多位美國人聊天的結果,也發現Eugene O'Neill多數美國人了解的也不多,不像其他的諾貝爾文學獎得主海明威一樣是家喻戶曉的人物。基於自己對於自己愛看電影(經典老片都有研究)的熱愛,因此只從他和卓別林的間接關係中,對他的印象較深。另外,他的劇Anna Christie,日後被改編成1930年同名的電影,女主角為當時紅極一時的瑞典女星Greta Garbo從默片轉為有聲片的第一部片,是有另一層歷史上的意義。

Eugene O'Neill is born in a hotel to parents James and Ella O'Neill.  An Irish immigrant, James was a promising stage actor until he threw his career away when he decided to take the lead role of the melodrama adapted from Alexandre Dumas's "The Count of Monte Cristo." Although able to make a reasonable profit to support the family, James would be stuck to this role forever and would die full of regrets.  Growing up in the theatrical world definitely made an impact on the young Eugene later on.

Eugene early life was full of drama.  He only attended one year of Princeton before deciding to live a life on the seas.  He would become alcoholic and attempt suicide, unsuccessfully.  During rehabilitation, he made the serious choice to become a playwright if he were to recover.  The rest is history.

Eugene was married three time and had three children, two boys and a girl.  His oldest son Eugene Jr. became a greek scholar and taught at Yale.  Like a curse that runs in the family, he became alcoholic and ultimately took his own life.  Eugene O'Neill was devastated upon learning of the news.  His second son later on also committed suicide.  Youngest daughter Oona was the more fortunate one.  However, when she decided to marry Charlie Chaplin, 37 years her senior, Eugene disowned her.  There was no reconciliation ever, and they never spoke after.

Oona and Charlie Chaplin had 8 children together and had a happily married life.  After Chaplin's death however, Oona eventually could not escape the family curse.  She also became alcoholic and died of pancreatic cancer.

I have not personally read any of Eugene O'Neill's plays, and as far as I know, despite receiving the Nobel Prize in literature, his works are not well-known by many Americans either, compared to someone say, Ernest Hemmingway.  My appreciation for classic movies, oddly finds the connection between Chaplin and O'Neill for me.  Chaplin's daughter Geraldine Chaplin also had a supporting role in the classic Doctor Zhivago.   Last of all, O'Neill's play Anna Christie  later was adapted to a Hollywood film, where Greta Garbo stars in her first talking role, which created quite a buzz in its time.


要參觀Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site,必須要事先預約。在約好的停車場,ranger會開車親自送參觀者到National Historic Site的入口。不過網頁上寫道,自2010的五月開始,週六的參觀的遊客,不再需要預約,可以當天直接在接人的地方等待就好了。坐車來回加上ranger給的導覽,估計要至少兩個多小時左右。

對於Eugene O'Neill更詳細的資料,可參觀以下的連結:


Official Website:
Eugene O'Neill National Historic Site

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