Through dreams and shadows and strangeness, through blinding charms and eye-opening counter-charms, through moments of mortification and laughter--thus Stuart M. Tave traces the journey of the lovers, clowns, and fairies who populate comedies from A Midsummer Night's Dream
to Waiting for Godot
. Tave avoids the pitfalls of theory, taking instead a close look at particular works to give us a sense of the relations between certain dramas and novels that are called comedies. The result is a wonderfully readable book that renews our delight in the enchanting possibilities of literature. A Midsummer Night's Dream
, in its perfection, is Tave's point of departure. Its characters fall neatly into the three groups of Tave's title and fulfill to perfection their functions of desire, foolishness, and power. From the magical concord of Shakespeare's resolution, Tave moves to works whose character face ever greater difficulties in reaching a happy conclusion. From Jonson and Austen to Chekhov and Beckett, he meets comedies on their own terms, illuminating the complex and individual genius of each. A masterpiece of practical criticism, Lovers, Clowns, and Fairies
rediscovers the pleasure of reading comedies.