Foreword | December 01, 2007

The full text of this Foreword is not currently available online.

In one of his many helpful letters of advice sent to young actors — published for the first time in this issue — Laurence Olivier describes the essence of a Shakespearean tragic character as a “perfect statue of a man,” made vulnerable by a significant flaw that finally will destroy him. Olivier’s remark calls to mind a quality of literature and indeed of all the arts: they relate to the core of an individual, the human, not the “statue,” and they articulate danger. The masks of literature, like those of primitive art and ritual, suggest “the other” that lies below the social being — the primal conflicts, the animal, and the sometimes scary forces within us.

If you are a student, faculty member, or staff member at an institution whose library subscribes to Project Muse, you can read this piece and the full archives of the Missouri Review for free. Check this list to see if your library is a Project Muse subscriber.