Tragedy and Comedy

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by Walter Kerr

In this superb critical study of tragedy and comedy—their sources, masks, and meanings—Walter Kerr, former drama critic for the New York Times, examines masterpieces from Aristophanes and Shakespeare to Chekhov and Beckett. His imaginative thesis, that "the two masks the theater shows us are in actuality the same face, worn by the same man, reporting the same event," is here worked out with typical seriousness and style. His conclusions point toward a reevaluation of both the theater of the past and the present-day stage. He is one of the few critics able to instruct and entertain, without pedantry or playing to the balcony. He has never been in better form than in this book, which will benefit working dramatists, literary theorists, or the most casual theater-goer.

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— Walter Kerr, Tragedy and Comedy