I had to re-read each chapter two or three times to get a full sense of what Goffman was driving at. His ability to get at the inner workings of human interactions is, if not unique, darned rare. This book will repay the effort it takes to read it many times over. Often he'll take up a subject that other writers try to grapple with but don't quite nail, and he'll land a bull's eye so clean and square your head spins. The examples may be dated by the 1950s world Goffman was describing, but the fine details still ring true, as in "Similarly, at middle class American funerals, a hearse driver, decorously dressed in black and tactfully located at the outskirts of the cemetary during the service, may be allowed to smoke, but he is likely to shock and anger the bereaved if he happens to flick his cigarette stub into a bush, letting it describe an elegant arc, instead of circumspectly dropping it at his feet" It's that fine grained detail that Goffman picks up on, that's what's missing in so many page a minute recipe books of cheapo wisdom. And he writes better, too.
I really loved this book. First, I appreciated that it was written in the mid fifties by someone who valued the nuances of words and before books were dumbed down for popular understanding. It's a vocabulary builder. It was extremely difficult for me to read. I was 41 at the time. Nearly every page revealed to me errors in my thoughts and actions that were profoundly embarrassing. I would have to lay it aside and creep back a few days later to again confront myself. I am a Buddhist. The book seems to reveal fundamental Buddhist truths discovered independently by an European with no previous exposure to the Dharma. The book powerfully enunciates the proposition that there is no "essence" of ourselves and our personality - but that all life is a performance - all too often, poorly written, produced, directed and acted. In today's politically correct world - this book could never be published.
Good presentation of the settings around presentation and staged performances. It never goes into any tedious details, but focus more on the aspect of "teams" and "stages", much like what can be found in theatres. [Opinion] Everyone ought to make themselves conscious of these structures.