Throughout his whole work, Erving Goffman was interested in the conditions for success and failure in the communication aspect of strategic interaction in situations. Using several different metaphors, from ‘stage’, ethological concepts like ‘mimicry’, to the methodological notion of ‘frame’, he studied the whole range of these acts – and in particular, their consequences for perpetrators and victims alike, from successful deception to painful embarrassment. There are some striking similarities to the work of Norbert Elias, who dealt in an exemplary way with the strategic, rationally communicative behaviour of the ‘courtier’ of the 17th and 18th centuries who had also to steer between deception and embarrassment. Like Goffman, Elias used literary examples as source and inspiration for his sociological insights. Unlike Goffman, Elias embedded his findings in a processual theory of courtization and complemented the rational aspect of communication with the corresponding emotions. In their late works (Frame Analysis and Symbol Theory), both left their legacy to the afterworld: For Goffman, all human communication could easily lead to misunderstanding, while for Elias, it was exactly human language that improves common understanding with the help of shared symbols. Goffman’s view of the world was that of the ‘satire’, ‘the myth of the Winter’, in the words of Northrop Frye; Elias’ was closer to ‘romance’, with an optimism untroubled even by the possibility of future catastrophes.