October 20, 1939
Dear Mr. Bacon:
It's hard to convey how unusual it is to receive a good play in the mail. As for a good poetic play, that had never happened before, and so I hope you will forgive me for delaying so long to read "Savonarola". It's an excellent play and the verse is excellent.
It has two faults from my point of view which may prevent a Broadway production or success. The first is a lack of introductory relieving humor of the sort even Shakespeare found necessary for most of his tragedies. For some reason an audience insists on an occasional light touch, a relief from thinking or emotion. The other deficiency is more fundamental. Aristotle would say that your hero has no tragic fault and I would add that the lack of a tragic fault eliminates the possibility of a recognition scene for your climax. I am sending you a little book of essays which includes "The Essence of Tragedy" because that paper will tell you more exactly what I mean. 2
Even though I make these criticisms, however, "Savonarola" is a fine play and I am glad to have seen it. If you are ever in New York and would like to get in touch with me, I live at New City and my telephone number is 2202.