Critic, professor and dramaturg Jan Kott died on Dec. 22 at age 87. Mr. Kott's most influential book was "Shakespeare Our Contemporary," wherein he drew parallels between the Bard and Beckett — ideas that would influence Peter Brook, Mnouchkine and other notable modernist directors. Born in Warsaw in 1914, Mr. Kott studied at various European universities and rose in the ranks at the University of Warsaw until his Marxist leanings came into conflict with the Communist regime (he resigned from the Party in 1957).
Since arriving in the U.S. in 1966, Mr. Kott has taught at Yale, the University of California, Berkeley, and SUNY Stony Brook, where he served as professor emeritus. Other books by Mr. Kott include "School of Classics," "An Interpretation of Greek Tragedy" and "Theatre of Essence," which won the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism in 1986.
According to Newsday, Mr. Kott was a member of the resistance in Nazi occupied Poland and, because of a German coat he was wearing, nearly hanged, accidentally, by Russian troops after the war. He will be buried in Krakow.