Tennessee Williams on Success

“Ask anyone who has experienced the kind of success I am talking about — What good is it? Perhaps to get an honest answer you will have to give him a shot of truth serum but the word he will finally groan is unprintable in genteel publications.

“Then what is good? The obsessive interest in human affairs, plus a certain amount of compassion and moral conviction, that first made the experience of living something that must be translated into pigment or music or bodily movement or poetry or prose or anything that’s dynamic and expressive — that’s what’s good for you if you’re at all serious in your aims. William Saroyan wrote a great play on this theme, that purity of heart is the one success worth having. ‘In the time of your life — live!’ That time is short and it doesn’t return again. It is slipping away while I write this and while you read it, and the monosyllable of the clock is Loss, loss, loss, unless you devote your heart to its opposition” (Williams 1947, 104-105).

Williams, Tennessee. 1947. “The Catastrophe of Success.” InĀ The Glass Menagerie, 99-105. New York: New Directions Publishing Corporation.