The Theatre of the Absurd

Front Cover
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Apr 2, 2009 - Performing Arts - 480 pages
1 Review
In 1953, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot premiered at a tiny avant-garde theatre in Paris; within five years, it had been translated into more than twenty languages and seen by more than a million spectators. Its startling popularity marked the emergence of a new type of theatre whose proponents—Beckett, Ionesco, Genet, Pinter, and others—shattered dramatic conventions and paid scant attention to psychological realism, while highlighting their characters’ inability to understand one another. In 1961, Martin Esslin gave a name to the phenomenon in his groundbreaking study of these playwrights who dramatized the absurdity at the core of the human condition.

Over four decades after its initial publication, Esslin’s landmark book has lost none of its freshness. The questions these dramatists raise about the struggle for meaning in a purposeless world are still as incisive and necessary today as they were when Beckett’s tramps first waited beneath a dying tree on a lonely country road for a mysterious benefactor who would never show. Authoritative, engaging, and eminently readable, The Theatre of the Absurd is nothing short of a classic: vital reading for anyone with an interest in the theatre.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - iayork - LibraryThing

a must read for the theatre teacher.: Esslin outlines important facts about this complicated and confusing theatrical movement. He helps provide a basic understanding for anyone who would like to know ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - girlunderglass - LibraryThing

This is obviously an essential read for anyone with an interest in theatre: a book that has managed to remain as influential and as fresh as it was when it was published in the 60s. Esslin can easily ... Read full review

Contents

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
11
The absurdity of the Absurd
19
The search for the self
92
Theatre and antitheatre
133
A hall of mirrors
200
Certainties and uncertainties
234
PARALLELS AND PROSELYTES
265
Jean Tardieu 263 Boris Vian 274
274
Günter Grass 297 Robert Pinget 299
299
Norman Frederick Simpson 302 Edward Albee 311
311
Slawomir Mrozek 318 Tadeusz Rózewicz 321
321
The TRADITION OF the ABSURD
327
THE SIGNIFI cance of THE ABSURD
410
Background and history of the Theatre of
430
in
440
327
473

Manuel de Pedrolo 281 Fernando Arrabal 283
283
Max Frisch 292 Wolfgang Hildesheimer 293
293

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2009)

Martin Esslin was born in Budapest and educated in Austria. He read Philosophy and English at Vienna University and graduated as a producer from the Reinhardt Seminar, the well-known dramatic academy. He left Austria in 1938 and in 1940 began working for the BBC as a producer, scriptwriter, and broadcaster. In 1963 he became Head of Radio Drama at the BBC, a position he held until his retirement in 1977. At his death in 2002 at the age of 83 he was Emeritus Professor of Drama at Stanford University.

Bibliographic information