If I was to rewrite The Death of Tragedy (and my favourite critic was the one who lamented the waste of so fine a title ix Foreword on this particular work), I would attempt a change of em- phasis at two significant points.Though devastating, the catastrophe in Othello is, finally, too trivial a thing, its triviality, its purely contingent character being both augmented and subtly undermined by the grandeur of the rhetoric. Johnson saw , Shakespeare's bent was not natively a tragic one.Because it is so encompassing, so receptive to the plurality and simul- taneity of dive r se orders of experience — even in the house of Atreus someone is celebrating a birthday or cracking jokes — the Shakespearean vision is that of tragi-comedy .No fertility or seasonal rites however expressive, no dance-dramas of south-east Asia however intricate, are at all comparable in inexhaustibility of meaning, economy of means and personal authority of invention with Greek clas- sical tragedy.It has been argued, plausibly, that Greek trag- edy, as it has come down to us, was devised by Aeschylus, that it represents one of those very rare instances of the crea- tion of a major aesthetic mode by an individual of genius. vii Acknowledgments My warmest thanks go to Professor Whitney Oates and Professor R. I am the more grateful as this book does not represent precisely what its learned sponsors had in mind. Principally, however, this essay belongs to my father. Those who have attended these occa- sions will know how much the speaker owes to the chairmanship and cross-fire of R. Blackmur and to the erudite vigilance of Professors E. This grant enabled me to get on with the job while teaching only part-time. The counsel he gave and the pleasure he took in the work were both of great value to me.Shakespeare's other mature tragic plays have in them strong , very nearly decisive , counter-currents of repa ir of human radiance , of public and communal res- toration .Danemark under Fortinbras, Scotland under Malcolm, will be eminently better realms to live in, an amelioration to which the preceding griefs contribute di- rectly.I remain convinced that this is so, and that the masters of drama in our century are Claudel, Montherlant and Brecht (Lorca over brief, lyric stretches).But the dis- cussion ought to have been fuller, and I should have tried to show in what ways the minimalist poetics of Beckett be- long, for all their express bleakness and even nihilism, to the spheres of irony, of logical and semantic farce rather than to that of tragedy.