In Shakespeare our Contemporary (translated 1964), Jan Kott headed one chapter ‘ King Lear or Endgame’. In so doing, he invited readers to think of Shakespeare’s play in terms of Samuel Beckett’s absurdist drama, first performed in 1957. He argued that in the ‘new theatre’ of Beckett, Dürenmatt, and Ionesco, tragedy had been replaced by the grotesque: ‘Grotesque means tragedy re-written in different terms’ ; the hero still loses his ‘struggle against the absolute’, an absolute that is confirmed in tragedy but mocked and desecrated in the grotesque. Kott’s example of such tragedy is Sophocles’ Antigone, where the heroine ‘is doomed to choose between human and divine order’, and, he says, ‘The tragic situation becomes grotesque when both alternatives of the choice imposed are absurd, irrelevant, or compromising’ (p. 108). Hence ‘Tragedy is the theatre of priests, grotesque is the theatre of clowns’ (p. 113). Kott leaps from this definition into an account of the scene of Gloucester’s mock suicide in King Lear, identifying Gloucester as Everyman wandering through a world in which ‘both the medieval and renaissance orders of established values disintegrate’ (p. 118), and we are left with the earth, bleeding and empty. So the theme of King Lear ‘is the decay and fall of the world’ (p. 123), and is focused in the relationship in this scene between Edgar and Gloucester, which he links with that of Pozzo and Lucky in Waiting for Godot.