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The principle revisions of the new edition of Contour in Time are to be found in the discussion of the cycle, A Tale of Possessors, Self-dispossessed. When I first wrote, in the 1960s, access to the cycle material was strictly limited. The full text of More Stately Mansions and the scenario of The Calms of Capricorn were unavailable, as were the surviving notes on the destroyed plays and scenarios. Since that time this material has been either published or made available at the Beinecke Library. I am deeply indebted to Dr. Donald Gallup and Dr. David Schoonover, former curators of the American Literature Collection of the library, for permitting me to write a fuller account than was earlier possible.

My first description of the cycle’s content was necessarily a pastiche gathered from comments by a wide variety of writers. In one matter, I was led into serious error, the identification of O’Neill’s Bessie Bowen with Mme. Stephen Jumel, née Bessie Bowen. The error was based on an unqualified assertion by Croswell Bowen in The Curse of the Misbegotten. The coincidence of the facts of Jumel’s life with the material in the cycle is astonishing, and it is evident from some entries in Carlotta O’Neill’s diaries that O’Neill knew of her. In many ways, her ninety-year lifespan with her love of Napoleon, her affection for fine coaches, her marriage to Aaron Burr, her building of the “stately mansion” that still stands beside the Harlem River predicted the account O’Neill was to develop of the Harford family. But she was not O’Neill’s heroine. In this revision, in Jumel’s place stands the true source figure, another remarkable American woman, Kate Gleason.

In recent years, many valuable critical studies of O’Neill and his work have appeared, and much of O’Neill’s unpublished writing has been printed. For reasons which will be, I hope, self-evident, I have not revised my text or notes to include these books. However, the reader may find it easier to refer to these publications than to documents which in the 1960s were available only in libraries. Two volumes of O’Neill’s letters have appeared: “The Theatre We Worked For”: The Letters of Eugene O’Neill to Kenneth Macgowan, edited by Jackson R. Bryer, with introductory essays by Travis Bogard (New Haven. Conn., 1982), and “Love, Admiration and Respect,” The O’Neill-Commins Correspondence, edited by Dorothy Commins (Durham, N.C., 1986). Additional sources are: The Unknown O’Neill, an anthology edited by Travis Bogard (New Haven, Conn., 1987), and The Complete Plays of Eugene O’Neill, edited by Travis Bogard (New York, 1988).
 

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