ut simply, among writers of the American South, Tennessee Williams is to the drama what William Faulkner is to the novel. But whereas Faulkner created the mythical Yoknapatawpha County, several actual locales in the South have long been associated with Williams. There are, first, towns or regions in Mississippi: Columbus where he was born, Clarksdale where he spent much of his childhood years, and the Delta, setting for
Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
Next, there is New Orleans, the city he most loved, in whose French Quarter he lived for long stretches of time, and where
A Streetcar Named Desire
is set. Finally, there is Key West, Florida, where he had a home with a writing studio to which he often retreated from his forays around the world. Yet along with these geographical places, there is for Williams a nostalgically remembered South of myth and tradition that proves every bit as vital in adumbrating his major plays. As Esther Merle Jackson has written in her 1965 book:
■ As a Southerner, Tennessee Williams has had advantages of consequence: the symbolism of the South, a region separated from the mainstream of the American society by an intricate complex of political, cultural, and economic factors, has greatly enriched the language of the arts…. Its primordial interpretation of man’s struggle in an unfriendly universe has produced a highly developed iconography.