Tuesday, May 24, 2005 +

02005 05 24 +

“Yeats was under no obligation to make a success story of Mr. O’Casey’s career; he was under no obligation to like The Silver Tassie. But, all other questions aside, we may judge his famous rejection of it in terms of the consequences. Yeats did more than any other man to deflect from the theatre one of its two or three best playwrights. I am not sure that Mr. O’Casey’s later plays are as good as his earlier ones; I am sure they would be better than they are had Yeats and Agate and the rest kept the playwright in the theatre. Though diffuse, and blemished by self-pity and proletarian snobbery, the autobiography, half the time, is as good as the blurbs say it is; one shakes one’s head, not over what O’Casey has written, but over what he has been sidetracked from writing; the autobiography is ersatz; the best passages are scenes from plays that will never be written; scenes by a playwright without a theater.”
—Eric Bentley, “The Case of O’Casey,” in What Is Theater?