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November 16 , 2008

The Footlights Fore and Aft


Wherein, at union rates, the author performs the common but popular musical feat known as "blowing one's own horn." "Good wine", according to the poet, "needs no bush." With the same logic, one may argue that a good book needs no introduction.... But then—how be sure that it is a good book? Hallowed custom provides that every volume of essays—especially of essays on the theater—shall begin with a preface in which some celebrated critic dilates upon the cleverness of the author. However, celebrated critics are expensive, and, moreover, no one else seems to know as much about the cleverness of this author as does the author himself. In consequence of which two facts, I mean to write my own introduction. One obstacle appears to be well-nigh insurmountable. It will be easy to inform you as to my merits and my qualifications, but I don't quite see how a man can speak patronizingly of himself. And, of course, the patronizing tone is absolutely essential to an introduction. Nobody ever wrote an introduction without it. I shall do my best, but I hope you will be lenient with me in the event of failure

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