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Rhinoceros and Other Plays Paperback – January 11, 1994

4.2 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Eugene Ionesco (1909-1994) wrote more than twenty plays, as well as many stories, memoirs, and theoretical essays, and was elected a member of the French Academy. Rhinoceros and The Leader are literary landmarks. Tina Howe's best-known plays include Museum, The Art of Dining, Painting Churches, Coastal Disturbances, and Pride's Crossing. She has been awarded an Obie, a New York Drama Circle Critics' Award, as well as a Tony nomination, and has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Award.
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Product Details

  • Series: Evergreen Original, E-259
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (January 11, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802130984
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802130983
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,204 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Ionesco is one of the greatest of the absurdist playwrights. Rhinoceros is a great piece -- an amalgam of comedy and tragedy that will have you doubled over in laughter one moment and desperately frightened the next.
That being said, this translation has some serious problems. It was very strange to read as an American in 2004, because it is written in the English spoken in Great Britain in the 1960s. In addition to serious liberties taken by the translator (i.e. simply leaving out certain lines), there sometimes crops up a lack of flow that is all too common in translated literature.
Despite the fact that it's time for a new translation, I highly recommend Ionesco's plays, and Rhinoceros in particular. If you know French, read the original!
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You are sitting at your desk high up in a skyscraper at the office, typing briskly a draft speech by your boss who is behind closed doors. It is nearing lunch hour; the atmosphere is muted and quiet; the phones ring occasionally and your colleague, both mentor and friend, is holding the fort. Slightly isolated from your other co-workers, a commotion breaks out in the distant air and while slightly curious, you are more in tune with the task at hand.

Finally, you can no longer ignore the increasing noise volume and you decide reluctantly to find out what is happening. Your supervisor's assistant is on the phone and you both make eye contact. You get up on your feet and slowly go out to check the premises (a long labyrinth of corridors and offices), quietly passing the chairman's office, while noticing that his assistant is also occupied on the phone and not to be disturbed.

A small cluster of colleagues are gathered near the water fountain and you hear the word 'kangaroo' - one large one is actually on your floor? While you are enchanted at first at such a wondrous impossibility, you also hear that this 'King Roo' is aggressive and has just damaged the faux marble wall behind the reception desk, before leaping off in the direction of the central copying room. A hoax? A prank of some kind? This kangaroo has been seen by quite a few witnesses by now and the buzzing has begun with validity. You are able to ascertain that the security people are missing and that Mr. Rizzoli, a senior management banker, is taking control of the situation at the peril of his new Armani suit. None the wiser, you decide to return to your office and cool it until further notice.

Unfortunately, your boss opens his door on your return and wants an explanation for this noise disruption.
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By A Customer on October 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
A mind-twisting collection of Ionesco's best drama. Incredible, fantastic and filled with originality. Add this one to your bookshelf. Best quote - ' All cats die, Socrates is dead. Therefore, Socrates is a cat'
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Format: Paperback
Perhaps it has to do with time, but I think Rhinoceros reads better from a perspective other than the one having to do with fascism. I chose to direct it recently from a very different point of view and one, I think, that would facilitate a bristling reading. The play is not about fascism per se, but rather about the rigidity of social convention, which was one of Ionesco's concerns. Just listen to Jean's constant criticisms of Berenger's appearance and behavior. The first time the Rhinoceroses appear, Berenger has had enough of Jean and is, wishfully thinking, wishing ill upon him. Why a Rhinoceros? Perhaps because Jean is so prissy; perhaps Berenger wishes he was thick-skinned enough to shrug off Jean's derision. The first act ends, indeed, with an argument between the two. Think of the appearance of the Rhino in the second act as an unconcsious working out of his wishful thinking: Jean is replaced by the insulting and condescending Dudard. Either Berenger misfires or he is testing--through Mrs Boeff--whether love can withstand "Rhinoceritis". It appears it can. Notice his conversations with Daisy. Read Act Three as Berenger taunting, harassing, and inflicting Rhinoceritis upon Jean in a kind of coup de grace, separating himself completely from Jean and the conventions he stands for. In the fourth act, however, we see the daydream get out of his control because, as Jean told us in the beginning, Berenger's thinking is all muddled; Daisy catches the 'disease' as she tries to win or seduce him, but he himself is, ironically, immune or a coward. Ionesco, of course, is richer than a simplistic point a view; but as Jean, again, tells us in the beginning, Berenger is a dreamer, and examining Berenger's state of mind as the cause of the rampant and rampaging outbreak of Rhinoceritis makes for a comic and tragic reading and very entertainig piece of theatre.
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Format: Paperback
This is one of the greatest books I have ever read! It is very subtle and has many double meanings. It's very good if you want to have a laugh, but it's not only funny: It will get you thinking about the world and the people in it, the dangers of conformity.Really worth buying!
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"There are more dead people than living. And their numbers are increasing. The living are getting rarer."-Ionesco.

Ionesco wrote this play in his traditional style, that is, using humor and the idea of the ridiculous to develop satire. Rhinoceros is a commentary on Nazism and a result of Ionesco's experiences with fascism, yet it is extremely readable, if one remembers not to take it to seriously. That being said, the lessons it offers are serious, concerning groupthink, the absence of rational thought in humanity, and the slippery slope to an unconventional, self-destructive conclusion. And yes, this book does contain plenty of rhinoceros, in a small town, stampeding out of control. Cue the ridiculous: enjoy!
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