This morning I finished Peter Leithart’s illuminating work Deep Comedy. I say “illuminating” because never before have I seen Solomon, Derrida, Homer, Shakespeare, & Jesus compared & contrasted in such a way as Liethart does in this book! A wonderful amalgamation of philosophy, poetry, literature, & theology, Deep Comedy explains just why all of these categories ultimate play off one another.
As heirs of modernity, we have a tendency to believe that tragedy is more “serious” than comedy. When I use the terms “tragedy” and “comedy” I’m using them in the literary sense. Tragedy is a work of literature in which community is broken in the end. Comedy is a work of literature in which community is restored in the end. Modern thought tends to believe that the world is random; we are all at the bay of impersonal forces moving us inexorably toward a black void we call “death”. Because of this belief we often believe that tragic literature and art is closer to reality than comedy. In a recent interview with Touchstone Magazine about his work on Shakespeare, Peter Leithart addresses this unfortunate misapprehension: