Winter 1957 • Vol. XIX No. 1 Nonfiction |

The Human Image¹

The essays in this book were written at various times during the last dozen years or more, often on specific assignment. I have arranged them in three groups according to topic: the modern theatre, Shakespeare, and critical attitudes. This arrangement is not intended to suggest a complete, coherent view of literature and the theatre in our time: the papers collected here are strictly essays, tentative soundings of matters which seem to me significant. But a certain conception of what is significant in dramatic literature, and a certain notion of what a critic should try to do, govern them all. The title I have adopted for the collection, The Human Image1, is intended to suggest this focus. The writer's function, Mr. Allen Tate says in his essay, "The Man of Letters in the Modern World," is "to render the image of man as he is in his time." This formula strikes me as essentially right, all the more so because it echoes Hamlet, who bids the players reflect human nature and the pre

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