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The Theatre of the Absurd Paperback – January 6, 2004


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The Theatre of the Absurd + The Bald Soprano and Other Plays: The Bald Soprano; The Lesson; Jack, or the Submission; The Chairs + Waiting for Godot (Eng rev): A Tragicomedy in Two Acts
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 3rd edition (January 6, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400075238
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400075232
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #232,392 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Exciting and stimulating...a very useful reference work and a standard text book.” —Literary Review

From the Inside Flap

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.

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Customer Reviews

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In short, Mr. Esslin packs a breadth of relevant information into 480 pages.
Absurdist Ad Nauseam
Even if you don't think you care about those things, read this book--you may find that you actually do and you owe it to yourself to find out.
Travis Austin Chamberlain
If you study, teach, design,or perform in the theatre you need to read this book, it is the authoritative text on absurdist theatre.
Daniel Stowell

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Absurdist Ad Nauseam on October 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
If you have ever wished for one book to neatly package absurdist theatre, Mr. Esslin's book is the one. This book is readable, comprehendable, entertaining and engaging. In fact, it's rather difficult to put down. His introduction does wonders to dispel any myths as to what absurdist theatre is and isn't. He follows the introduction by individually highlighting those playwrights often associated with the absurd (Beckett, Adamov, Ionesco, Genet, and Pinter). Of interest is the fact that he does not overwhelm or bore the reader by providing an excess of information. On the contrary, each section is unbelievably tight. His section on Adamov is much appreciated, considering that finding anything on him is near impossible. He then continues with his "Parallels and Proselytes" in which he touches on "lesser-known" playwrights (Albee, Arrabal, and others). He follows this section with three more equally fascinating chapters. In short, Mr. Esslin packs a breadth of relevant information into 480 pages. "The Theatre of the Absurd" should find a welcome home on the bookshelves of actors, directors, dramaturgs, playwrights, or those with an interest in theatre. Buy it, you won't be disappointed.
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By J. B. Marques on May 2, 2000
Format: Paperback
I came to read this book for a paper I decided to write on Samuel Beckett, for my Theory of History course. A friend who's an actress recommended it for me, and it was an amazing discovery. From an historian's point of view, this book is a rich, challenging and informative approach to one of the most important aspects of the ideology crisis from the beginning of the XXth. Century. As I came to know later, it's a classic on the theatre field as well.
Apart from Beckett and some minor authors, there are chapters on Adamov, Ionescu, Genet and Pinter, and a superb essay on the meaning of the concept of "absurd" of human existence. A must read for anyone who wishes to understand not only the art, but the ideas which shaped the latest century.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Stowell on July 20, 2000
Format: Paperback
Esslin outlines important facts about this complicated and confusing theatrical movement. He helps provide a basic understanding for anyone who would like to know about Beckett, Ionesco, Adamov, Genet, and Pinter. Absurdism is probably the least understood of all modern theatrical movements of the twentieth century, but Esslin makes it accessible. If you study, teach, design,or perform in the theatre you need to read this book, it is the authoritative text on absurdist theatre.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Travis Austin Chamberlain on November 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
Anyone interested in the problem of trying to understand and communicate what "reality" means to you on a deeply philosophical level and is curious about how some of the greatest minds in theatrical history have wrestled with this same issue in their own work should READ THIS BOOK. Even if you don't think you care about those things, read this book--you may find that you actually do and you owe it to yourself to find out. It is accessible and revelatory and continues to provide insights that would seem applicable to the future of theater/film/and all other representative artforms. We are still struggling with many of the issues Esslin addresses and our contemporary art has not yet fully integrated his insights into mainstream thought. We can't expect representative art to take any important leaps forward without first understanding the relevance of the Absurd. This book taught me that. I'm really glad I found it.
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