Initially a project aimed at understanding Shakespeare’s so-called problem plays, this study evolved into focusing more generally and comparatively on plays where the exploratory dramatic strategy involves distancing from comedy or tragedy and yet a vital relationship with the normative genre. It is a study of Shakespeare among others whose explorations are located in the territory of generic tension – starting almost at the historical beginning of European drama with Euripides and including Ibsen, Chekhov, Kleist, Synge, and Brecht. It points to a major and distinctive current in European drama, which has given us some of the greatest and most intriguing, if at times apparently puzzling, plays from antiquity to modernity. If the book does not quite map the entire field, which is far wider and more complex than one may anticipate, it deals with a significant portion of it and opens the way for further investigation. This study outlines a poetics of generic tension based on reading plays which constitute this field, and analyzes each play in detail with the help of the poetics but without being restricted to a thesis.