Comedy in a New Mood




Comedy in a New Mood







Chapter 4


The Metaphysical Implications of Sombre Comedy



[N.B.:  This document uses the word "comic" to mean "of or pertaining to comedy."  In more recent documents, Grawe uses the word "comedic" for that concept, in order to distinguish between comedy (formal comedy) and humor, the humorous, or the funny (comic).]  


Sombre Comedy: Comedy in a New Mood

Chapter 9



Our study of sombre comedy has focused on its abstract definition, with some attention in the last chapter to the historical precedents of the genre and its criticism.  Neither of these approaches to sombre comedy has been of primary interest to its practitioners over the last thirty years.  Much more interesting to them has been the thought that within traditional comedy, so long the social and unserious genre, lies the seeds of a new metaphysical comedy of the highest seriousness.  That comedy may be serious is, as we have seen, an assertion made more and more in comic criticism throughout the modern period.  But now, we shall examine the theories of sombre comedy which add a postulate of its ultimately metaphysical implications.



The metaphysical theories of comedy and sombre comedy divide rather neatly into two schools.  On the one hand, we find a school of practicing playwrights, led by Pirandello and Ionesco,[1] who have very little systematic to say about their work.  But when they do try to formulate the basis for their various approaches to drama, they find it to be a new comedy of exceptional bitterness which questions the goodness of man’s existence.  On the other hand, we have a school, arising in the last ten years, composed mainly of academic critics, who see comedy’s metaphysical potential, but find it used not only for expressions of extreme pessimism, but also for expressions of profound faith in the goodness of created being.  Most of these critics consider themselves Christian apologists and can be considered the Christian school or comic criticism.

The debate between the practicing pessimists and the academic Christian critics is by far the most lively and consistent debate in the history of sombre comic criticism.  Despite their opposite theological positions, both sides share many basic assumptions about sombre comedy which make their head-on confrontation possible.  Both sides, for instance, agree that no clear line separates comedy and the new metaphysical comedy.  And both sides agree that metaphysical concerns can be bodied forth in a comic action which on the surface seems purely social or even physical.  There has also been in both camps an amazing consistency on other basic questions of comic criticism, such as whether form or emotional response defines the genre and what the role of laughter in comedy is or should be.



The pessimistic playwrights took the field first and set the basic grounds for the debate.  Their basic premise has been that all comedy is defined by the response to it, laughter.  In traditional comedy, most audiences think of their laughter as entirely light in tone.  But, according to Pirandello and Ionesco, such reactions are superficial.  From Machiavelli[2] and Nietzsche,[3] we learn that there is a darker side to laughter, a bitterness, despair, and sense of absurdity lurking just below the surface of our frivolity.  And from Freud, of course, we know that our laughter is used to disguise what is too terrible to be directly confronted.

The new comedy which Pirandello and Ionesco discuss is comedy which does nothing to hide this bitter meaning of laughter.  And because it does not hide that meaning, their comedy is more than some imitation of social reality.  It is also man’s protest and defense against an absurd and anguishing universe.  According to Ionesco, “the comic alone is able to give us strength to bear the tragedy of experience.”[4]  Tragedy and drame at best only present man’s isolated abandoned metaphysical condition. Comedy alone can be not only a statement of man's condition, but also a tenable response to it.  When the world presses in on man with its alternating radical “materialness and nothingness,”[5] when man recognizes that everything is aberration, then the only recourse, the only rebellion, the only human response and solace is to see the world as comedy, in which everything serious is trivial and trivia are the ultimate seriousness.



The comedy of the practicing pessimists is, it is important to notice, a comedy of faith, a proposition they would readily admit.  Comedy is a matter of faith because it is concerned with metaphysical reality which cannot be proved, but can only be believed.  Now the faith of the pessimists is not like what we think of as other faiths, in what we tend to think that faiths are only in good things like an all-wise and beneficent deity, or salvation through a divine intervention in the natural order, or  special dispensation as a chosen people.  Such a conception of faith as a fond, if rather childish belief in the goodness of all things is a caricature of all the great faiths, totally at one with the spirit of our age which is without professed faith itself and which, therefore, enjoys discrediting professed faiths as an indirect compliment to itself.  The Old Testament faith, for example, is not a simple faith in an all-wise and all-merciful God looking over Israel.  God is also terrible, to some extent a vengeful God who claims an arbitrary right both to justice and to vengeance for Himself.  While He promises to watch over Israel while she keeps His commandments, He also proclaims His instrumentality in destroying her when she forsakes those commands.  And, if the Old Testament God is not an entirely attractive figure, the special dispensation of Israel proves as often a curse as a blessing.  If, then, it is possible to say that the ancient Hebrews professed a faith in a terrible God, it is just as possible to say that the pessimistic playwrights of our own century have proposed sombre comedy to be a profession of a despairing and pessimistic faith in the absurdity, meaninglessness, or groundlessness of existence.[6]



In the absence of any opposing view, the tenets of the metaphysical pessimists quickly became the standard clichés of early sombre comic criticism.  The new comedy they proposed, defined by bitter laughter and emotions of despair, looked back to some of the greatest early modern playwrights for its precedents:  to Chekhov whose “comedies”—The Cherry Orchard, Uncle Vanya, The Three Sisters, and The Sea Gull—attempted to show man how pitiful his life was[7] and to Ibsen whose The Wild Duck, which, if it did not directly speak to man’s metaphysical nature, at least denied that there was anything in man’s conduct which might point to his ”higher nature.”

But among practicing playwrights, Chekhov, Ibsen, and Pirandello were soon to be joined by newer playwrights determined to use the new dark forms for the assertion of more optimistic faiths, in particular T. S. Eliot and Christopher Fry. And a new school of Christian critics also arose, partly to explain these new optimistic sombre plays, partly to assert a religious understanding of comic art in general.  Joined by such less religiously orthodox, but still metaphysically optimistic playwrights as William Saroyan and Thornton Wilder, the Christian sombre comedians have employed the sombre mood in plays as diverse as A Phoenix Too Frequent, The Cocktail Party, The Time of Your Life, and The Skin of Our Teeth.  Meanwhile the Christian critics, Fry, Nathan Scott, Father William Lynch, and Nelvin Vos, have founded a cohesive school of comic criticism which refutes most of the critical tenets of the pessimistic sombre comedians while continuing to assert sombre comedy’s metaphysical implications.



The central position of the Christian critics is that comedy is an analogue to the Christian dogma and of Christ’s work on earth.  The idea that the New Testament story is basically comic has been around at least since Dante, and the idea that dramatic representations of that story are comic dates back to the early Renaissance theatre.  John Foxe labeled his play on Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection, the Christus Triumphans, a comedy in 1551 as did Schonaeus his similar play, Triumphus Christi.  Moreover, this sense of the Christian story as comedy has from the same time been associated with ideas of Christ’s life and mission as an archetypal tragicomedy.  Thus, Nicholas Grimald as early as 1543 subtitled his Christus Redivivuscomoedia tragica,” and Petrus Philicinus three years later did the same in his Magdalena Evangelica.[8]

But the modern argument for the similarity between comedy or sombre comedy and the Christian dogma perhaps does not predate Christopher Fry’s Adelphi in November, 1950.  There Fry argues that the comic spirit is an assertion made from faith that the alternating tragic and comic cycle of our earthly lives ultimately ends on a comic note, a note that asserts the value of life and the glory of its creator.  This is not to say that our is the best of all possible worlds and that everything is right as it stands.  Rather, it is to say that there is a faith or outlook which we call comedy, which is ultimately religious, and in which:



the dark is distilled into light . . . where our tragic fate finds itself with perfect pitch, and goes straight to the key which creation was composed in.  And comedy senses and reaches out to this experience.  It says, in effect, that groaning as we may be, we move in the figure of a dance, and, so moving, we trace the outline of the mystery.[9]

To clarify his poetic definition of comedy, Fry finds it helpful to define the essentially different outlook of tragedy.  Tragedy, Fry says, is an outlook gained through our experience of the world as finite creatures.  Tragedy depicts human striving against human finitude, the relentless drive to resist death, to resist the fickleness of human emotions and attitudes, to resist limits on our ambitious—in short, to resist every condition of our mortal lives.  In contrast, comedy is not the result of our experience but of our intuition.  Comedy is an intuitive affirmation of our life, an intuitive trust of “the arduous eccentricities we’re born to,” an intuitive love of “the oddness of a creature who has never got acclimatized to being created.”[10]



Fry’s position, stated briefly, often with poetic imprecision, certainly without scholarly pretense, has nevertheless become the basis for the whole Christian school of comic criticism which has arisen in the last decade.  All of the Christian critics take the difference between comedy and tragedy to be a matter of the acceptance or rejection of man’s finitude and dual nature,[11] and all of them emphasize Christianity’s and comedy affirmation of the value of the created universe despite its imperfections.  As Father William F. Lynch puts it in Christ and Apollo (1960):

The mud in man, the lowermost point in the subway, is nothing to be ashamed of.  It can produce . . . the face of God . . . .  To recall this, to recall this incredible relation between mud and God, is, in its own distant, adumbrating way, the function of comedy.[12]

The idea that man at his lowest can still reflect and in reflecting, glorify God, along with Fry’s idea that in groaning we dance and trace the outline of the mystery suggests that the Christian critics, like the metaphysically pessimistic sombre comedians, make no clear distinction between their discussion of comedy and their discussion of sombre comedy, but instead tend to see the two as almost identical.



As we have had cause to mention before, few critics have noticed that comedy has several distinct facets which almost demand separate analysis before they can be combined into a general theory of the genre.  Fry’s comments are too incomplete to take up these multiple facets, but starting with Nathan Scott, Jr.’s article, “The Bias of Comedy and the Narrow Escape into Faith,”[13] whose title suggests its close connections with Fry’s essay, the Christian critics have been characterized by their clear recognition of distinct facets of comedy.

Scott adopts for his first approach to comedy Fry’s idea that comedy concerns man’s finite nature and his faith in its ultimate value.  This idea leads to a basic comic pattern, a pattern in which man comes in conflict with

the created orders of existence, which arise out of an over-specialization of some instinct or faculty of the  self, or out of an inordinate inclination of the self in some special direction, to the neglect of the other avenues through which it ought also to gain expression.[14]

This pattern of man at war with his own narrowness is, of course, basically a restatement of Bergson’s theory of comedy as the life force opposing narrowness and mechanization.  The pattern Scott suggests works well precisely for those same plays Bergson’s theory was designed to explain and emphasizes the same comic characters—“Aristophanes’ Socrates or Jonson’s Volpone or Molière’s Tartuffe or Sterne’s Walter Shandy or Shaw’s Professor Higgins.”[15]



However, Scott notices that the figures emphasized by Bergson’s unsympathetic comedy are only some of the stock characters of the genre.  While these narrow characters are at war with their natures, there are equally comic character types who have ceased (or have never begun) to quarrel with their finite nature, but have instead existed in it and reveled in it to the glory of man and perhaps as well to the glory of God.  This new type of comic character is a ‘figure of heroic proportions who we laugh at and yet admire.”[16]

For Scott, the ultimate example of this type of comic hero is Sir John Falstaff, a man in whom faults and human failings are forever ascendant.  Yet he is a man who commands our sympathy, a man who stands out even among Shakespeare’s characters as exceptionally alive and exceptionally himself.  Thus, on the one hand, comedy presents quite unsympathetic characters who are at war with their own natures (and are, as a result, laughable.)  On the other hand, it presents the comic hero, who

simply lives for the joy of the adventure itself—and we must say, I think, to the glory of God.  There is in him nothing of the protestant (and the “p” is small):  he has no quarrel with life:  he is not a romantic:  he is engaged in no cosmic debate:  he is content simply to be a man.[17]



Other than Sir John, Scottian heroes would include the rakes of Restoration comedy (odd characters to think of as “living to the glory of God”), Don Quixote, and Joyce Cary’s Gulley Jimson.

The two faces of Scottian comedy, then, provide several contrasts with one another.  Not only does one concentrate on sympathetic and the other on unsympathetic characters, but also unsympathetic comedy is basically satiric, pointing out the vices and shortcomings of those who refuse to find the full values in life, while sympathetic, hero-oriented comedy is much more a direct celebration of man and his status as a created being.  But whichever concentration is found in any particular comedy, the ultimate purpose of comedy remains the same:  comedy asserts “a confidence in the conditioned realities of historical existence,”[18]and urges man to accept his finitude as a providential gift.  Thus, Scott accepts Mrs. Langer’s conclusion that comedy is a celebration of mundane existence, but he adds that this celebration has greater metaphysical implications.

Scott’s study, whatever other faults we may want to find with it later, is most obviously flawed by an inability to provide a place for the comedy of the pessimistic sombre comedians of our century who in their own explanations of their work and in their theories of comedy deny that they have any intention of paying homage to or even of accepting the conditions of man’s created existence.  One of the best ways to understand the comic theory of Nelvin Vos, one of Scott’s students, is to see it as an emendation of Scott’s theory in order to provide for these most sombre comedies.



With Fry and Scott, Vos asserts that comedy and tragedy both concern the disparity between the infinite and the finite in man, or, as Vos expresses it in an idiom reminiscent of Reinhold Niebuhr, the disparity between man’s “finite limitations and infinite possibilities.”[19]  Comedy and tragedy are both attempts, as Hoy says, to come to terms with that dual nature of man which becomes apparent as soon as man attempts to live up to his ideals.

For Vos, as for Fry, Scott, and Hoy, the difference between comedy and tragedy is the difference in the protagonist’s response to this finite-infinite duality.  The tragic protagonist simply ignores his duality and pushes on toward his ideal goal without any compromise with his finitude.  This self-blinding leads to self-destruction.  Tragedy views man “at the limits of his sovereignty,”[20] at the point at which finite nature forces itself upon him.

In tragedy, a gap is created, says Vos, between the infinite and the finite which the hero tries to ignore in his efforts for self-consummation, and the result is catastrophe.  In comedy a similar gap yawns between finite and infinite, but that gap is closed when the protagonist finds a new perspective in which finite and infinite are compatible and in which he can come to terms with his own finite nature.



Under this basic definition, comedy divides into three facets, two of which can be seen as less perfectly comic than the third.

The structure of victor comedy is as old as Western comedy itself.  It runs throughout our heritage as Greek, Roman, Shakespearean comedy in the vein of The Comedy of Errors, sentimental comedy, and modern comedy à la Shaw or Wilder.  The comic victor is finite and subject to error and folly. But he dwells in a basically providential universe where everything works out and where sin and evil are ultimately unreal.  The comic victor inhabits a festive dream world in which there is no tension between the finite and the infinite, making it easy for the comic victor to accept both.  He is likely, in fact, to see both as joined in an all-encompassing purpose for the universe.

Victor comedy is a perpetual favorite in the theatre because of its light optimistic outlook on life.  Its protagonists are not really engaged in significant actions, and their triumphs are not great accomplishments, but are rather successes in spite of foolishness.  Thus, while victor comedy is a box-office favorite, from an intellectual and critical point of view, it often seems facile, over-simplified, and false to the problems of life.



Vos’ victim comedy is the equivalent of most pessimistic sombre comedy and includes the drama of Chekhov, Ionesco, Beckett, Genet, Duerrenmatt, and Albee, among other modern playwrights.  Unlike victor comedy, victim comedy recognizes the painful, compromised nature of finite existence.  The protagonist is a victim placed in an “untenable” situation, religiously and morally abandoned.  The victim protagonist persists and, in persisting, moves not toward victory, but toward an irresolvable impasse.  The comic victim’s tenacity holds him anguished and despairing between the infinite and the finite, and this is the only sense in which the gap between finite and infinite is closed.  The comic victim is made aware of suffering and absurdity or meaninglessness as the essential quality of life and ends a persevering victim to these.

Victor comedy is marred by its facility; victim comedy is marred by its inability to truly bridge the gap between the finite and infinite.  But the third form of comedy, the structure of the victim-victor, overcomes these imperfections.  The comic victim-victor is convinced that there is a purpose behind the world.  But unlike the comic victor, the victim-victor finds a perspective in which he can recognize his finitude, can mortify himself, and can accept the idea that he is guilty and sinful.  The recognition of his own imperfection frees the comic victim-victor in a way similar to, if not identical with, the way conversion, according to the Christian dogma, frees man when he has recognized his imperfection and humbly accepts his dependence on God’s grace through Jesus Christ.  The victim-victor is also a Christ-figure who, taking on the full consequences of mortality, is raised above it.



Comedy in its perfected form is, then, as Fry said, “an escape not from truth but from despair; a narrow escape into faith.”[21] Perfect comedy is a complex genre in which the comic victim-victor triumphs

But in an ambiguous way, because he has experienced suffering, has made certain decisions, and has acted according to them.  Almost imperceptibly, goodness flits inconspicuously throughout the action and is combined with diabolical evil; the ending is one of complex tension and paradoxical ambiguity.  Heaven is interested in earth; sin and evil are real; pride and other forms of self-centeredness are man’s imperfections.  Not only is it a world of reality and common sense, but festive and sacrificial elements are juxtaposed.  Both weddings, the union of two bodies, and death, the separation of body and soul, provide the backdrop of the dramatic structure.[22]



Few works achieve this perfect comic form.  True to his mentor Soctt, Vos asserts that Falstaff is the perfected comic character as an archetypical victor-victim.  Less controversial examples of perfect comedy include Measure for Measure and Shakespeare’s late romances, Charlie Chaplin’s farces, the comedy of T. S. Eliot, particularly The Cocktail Party, and the comedy of Christopher Fry.

While recognizing the many areas in which the metaphysical debate has been of major importance in the theory of sombre comedy, we must also recognize the serious faults in the theories of both the metaphysical pessimists and the Christian critics.  The metaphysical pessimists, of course, share the basic flaws of all emotive-laughter theories of comedy.  Beyond that, they are often forced to seriously distort plays in order to find the essential bitterness lying beyond the surface gaiety of traditional comedy.  To find some sense of frustration and of the basic absurdity of life and society in The Comedy of Errors, for example, is not too difficult, especially when Shakespeare has so carefully included Egeon, the arbitrary law of Ephesus, and the theme of lost identity which runs through the play.  Much more difficult is to find the frustration or despair or anguish lying behind the model for Shakespeare’s play, Plautus’ Menaechmi.



Both the metaphysical pessimists and the Christian critics also seem to violate a good deal of logic and not a little commonsense in their mutual insistence that all comedy has something to say about man’s metaphysical nature.  Such a premise is based on the possibility of building an analogy between the life of man in the mundane world and his life viewed as a metaphysical abstraction.  Most traditional comedy, of course, gives no overt clue that it is about metaphysical reality.  The Way of the World and The Importance of Being Earnest seem on the surface totally confined to the world of polite society. One can argue that to be at home in the total universe, one must also be at home in one’s family, society, nation, and world, and that in this sense, traditional comedy which seems entirely devoted to the family or to society is indirectly asserting something about man’s metaphysical essence.  And one can also argue that the finite-infinite duality which is the threat to man’s security in the metaphysical universe is also the basic threat to him in his family, society, or nation.  But even if the metaphysical pessimists and Christian critics were to argue in this manner—and by and large they take a very different tack in arguing that comedy is directly concerned with man’s response to the ultimate—they would not have proved that they have any right to make these logical abstractions from traditional comedy.  If traditional comedy were meant to be about metaphysical reality, there should be something in its structure which causes the audience to make the analogy between the social world traditional comedy presents and the metaphysical world to which it alludes.  Simply seeing that a possible analogy exists does not warrant the assertion that such an analogy is indeed the purpose of a literary genre.



These objections hold primarily for traditional comedy.  Modern sombre comedy is often characterized by just such elements within the structure of the play that point toward the metaphysical implications of the play.  Using the recent film The Graduate for an example, Benjy’s barricading the Robinsons and their guests inside the church by using a cross as a crossbar on the church doors and the repetition of the song, “The Sound of Silence,” in the final scene almost force us to see some metaphysical analogies for the action of the film. Or in Duerrenmatt’s The Visit and Giraudoux’s The Madwoman of Chaillot, the surrealism of the entire action forces us to metaphysical abstractions.  But such elements do not exist in every comedy or even in every sombre comedy, and where they don’t exist I don’t think we can assert that the analogy to metaphysical reality exists; it is at best only potential.

The high level of abstraction of the whole metaphysical argument seems an especial hazard to the Christian critics.  It is hard not to be surprised and annoyed by their insistence that Falstaff, for example, acts to the glory of God, that he is never defeated and never at war with his own nature, or that he is ultimately a Christ-figure.  And, if possibly we are able to see Falstaff as a reveler to the glory of God, it is harder to make the same metaphysical leap for the Restoration rakes who seem to be in an analogous position.  One is also annoyed with the equation of a comic figure with comedy itself.  After all, unless we are talking about The Merry Wives of Windsor, Falstaff is not a character in comedy at all, much less the definition of the perfected genre.



Despite these major faults, the metaphysical debate has been the great fact of sombre comic criticism.  The metaphysical pessimists have provided it with its clichés that modern comedy is defined by its bitter laughter, by its despair, and by its agnosticism, tenets which show up in Styan and Guthke and which we will attempt to refute in our own theory.  The Christian critics in refuting the metaphysical pessimists not only demonstrate that comedy and modern sombre comedy have more purpose than the metaphysical pessimists are willing to admit.  They also champion the idea, first discussed by the psychological critics, that comedy has several facets all of which deserve separate investigation.  And they insist that sombre comedy is not the technique of a specific school of playwrights with a particular outlook on the world which they seek to propagate, but rather that it is a genre open to the various insights of many playwrights of opposing metaphysical persuasions.



Perhaps more important than all their differences, however, are the many common assumptions of the metaphysical pessimists and the Christian critics.  They both agree that comedy and sombre comedy can have metaphysical implications, a position diametrically opposed to Meredith‘s and all early comic criticism.  They also agree that comedy and particularly modern sombre forms of comedy are statements of faith.  We have stressed this aspect of both the metaphysical pessimists and the Christian critics because it has something very important to say about comedy, something we often overlook because we are so much better prepared to deal with tragedy.  Comedy, unlike tragedy, does not depend on “dramatic necessity.”  Things often don’t work out in any sort of “probable” manner in comedy; often they seem, as in the farces of Goldoni or Feydeau for example, to make a virtue out of ignoring probability altogether.  And modern sombre comedy, for all the philosophical posturings of many of its practitioners, depends very little more than comedy on a closely reasoned plot leading to a “necessary” ending.  These facts of comedy should suggest that comedy and sombre comedy are not essentially realistic, mimetic or reportorial at all, but are, rather, genres of faith, of basic outlooks altogether prior to experience.  While the theory of comedy and sombre comedy [we propose in this study does] not assert that all comedy has metaphysical implications, it must assert with both the metaphysical pessimists and the Christian critics that comedy depends for both its structure and its power on a basic faith about the nature of man.



[. . . ,] one further point from the metaphysical debate deserves our attention, that being that, like our own study all the metaphysical theories make no clear and complete distinction between comedy and sombre comedy.  For them, sombre comedy is the best in modern comedy; it is not some mixture of comedy and tragedy, nor is it even the only comedy with metaphysical implications.  The reasonableness of calling sombre comedy a form of comedy has been our assertion throughout this study, and we take comfort that several critics as well as some of the greatest practicing playwrights of our time have made the same assumption about modern sombre plays.


*  *  *


[NB:  The following paragraph in the dissertation came at the end of Dissertation Chapter 12, “The Conventions and Techniques of Sombre Comedy.”]


In a sense, we have come to the end of our investigation of sombre comedy.  We have defined it, differentiated it from other dramatic genres, explored its range and the limits on that range, and discussed the conventions and techniques which thus far in its history have been prominent in creating sombre comic theatre.  Yet, one more step might well be taken.  Ultimately, a theory of genre must be judged on two points:  how well it unites diverse works in a single perspective and how well it explicates particular plays.  “This play is a comedy” or “This play is a farce” may not be the most meaningful single critical comment that might be made on any particular play within either of these genres.  And similarly, “This play is sombre comedy” is not necessarily the most important thing we can say about Waiting for Godot or The Waltz of the Toreadors. For some plays, saying that they are sombre comedies may call attention only to the fact that a comic patterning of the action does exist within them.  For others, it may call attention to the real sufferings and continuing costs which the plays project in their virtual futures.  So, when we apply the criterion that a theory of genre must explicate particular plays, we must be careful not to demand that the genre designation serve as an ultimate explication of every aspect of every play.  Still, having in the last chapters shown the theory of sombre comedy working for a large range of modern dramatic experience including both Chekhov and Beckett, both Eliot and Ionesco, both Anouilh and Brecht, both the academically-significant stage and the popularly-sponsored cinema, in a last, concluding chapter the author would like to apply everything we have said thus far about sombre comedy to the explication of a single play, perhaps the greatest of the early modern sombre comedies, Anton Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard




[1] See Pirandello’s L’Umorismo (Milan:  Sacchetti and Co., 1920) and Ionesco’s comments collected in Notes and Counter Notes, trans. Donald Watson (New York:  Grove Press, 1964).


[2] Guthke, p. 62.


[3] Ibid.


[4] Quoted in Vos., p. 56.


[5] Ionesco’s phrase for the alternating visions of reality presented in his plays.


[6] This view of faith as more than faith in good things is a commonplace of modern theology.  See, for example, Paul Tillich’s Dynamics of Faith, particularly the essay, “What Faith Is,” (New York:  Harper and Row, Publishers, 1957).


[7] David Magarshack, Chekhov the Dramatist (New York:  Hill and Wang, 1965), p. 14.


[8] Guthke, p. 10.


[9] Quoted in Corrigan, p. 16.


[10] Quoted in Corrigan, p. 16.


[11] Though left out in the present discussion, Cyrus Hoy obviously is related to the Christian critics.


[12] Quoted in Corrigan, pp. 115.


[13] The Christian Scholar, 44 (Spring 1961), pp. 9-39. rpt. Corrigan, pp. 81-115.


[14] Quoted in Corrigan, p. 104.


[15] Quoted in Corrigan, p. 104.


[16] Quoted in Corrigan, p. 107.


[17] Quoted in Corrigan, p. 106.


[18] Quoted in Corrigan, p. 107.


[19] Vos, p. 12.


[20] Ibid., p. 13.


[21] Quoted in Corrigan, p. 15.


[22] Vos, p. 24.





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