The Theatre of the Absurd
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The Theatre of the Absurd

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  398 ratings  ·  18 reviews
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...more
Mass Market Paperback, 463 pages
Published 1968 by Penguin Books (first published 1961)
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Sam
I first stumbled on this book during my first semester - we had to write a term paper on any topic we wanted to - and I chose to write about Beckett's Waiting for Godot, which I had read back then for the first time. Reading Beckett for the first time was somewhat of a revelation for me, one of those moments that will shape you. Back then I read a few pages here and there, and was amazed how complex Esslin's analysis was.

Here I am, im Hier und Jetzt, at the end of my eighth semester. During my...more
Sam
I have never forgotten this quote (by Genet, I later figured out) since I first cut it out of this book and then inexplicably scrawled it on the wall of my first (rented) house in Sharpie:

"When I beheld you, suddenly--for perhaps a second--I had the strength to reject everything that wasn't you and to laugh at the illusion. But my shoulders are very frail. I was unable to bear the weight of the world's condemnation. And I began to hate you when everything about you would have kindled my love and...more
Hagar
An important guide on the Absurdist drama and theatre! A must as reference for whatever issue related to Absurdism! Interesting and Simple and Rich in its style! It's Martin Esslin after all..and I do love the guy in fact! :D
Leah
From the bits and pieces of this book that I have delved into, Esslin is able to talk about lit/drama theory with as little B.S. as I have ever encountered in anyone. Nice.
Phillip
Really I would give this book 3.5 stars if goodreads had that option, but I chose to go with the lower rating because I had high hopes for this book and they weren't exactly fulfilled.

I will start by saying that I see how this book would have been really foundational in the 19060s when it came out--at that point there was still a lot of confusion about what to make of playwrights like Beckett, Ionesco, and Pinter, and here comes Martin Esslin being all, "I can dot that! I have the definitive wor...more
Jeff
Much credit is given to Martin Esslin for creating the term "theatre of the absurd," but his prime contribution really amounts to lumping together disparate playwrights who don't really fit into traditional mid-century dramatic categories. It doesn't take a very close read to see that these playwrights don't necessarily belong together, either. Esslin wisely attributes the styles of these writers to their recognition that not only can the center not hold after two world wars and the Holocaust bu...more
علی
Martin Esslin included Ionesco in a group of playwrights-along with Samuel Beckett, Jean Genet, and Arthur Adamov- who practiced what he called the “Theater of the Absurd”, that address Albert Camus's discussion in “The Myth of Sisyphus” that man's search for meaning and order in futility of life.
مارتین اسلین در اوج شهرت "ساموئل بکت" و "اوژن اونسکو" در ابتدای دهه ی شصت قرن بیستم، به تدوین نظریه های تیاتر "ابزورد" یا آن گونه که در ایران مشهور شده، "پوچی" یا "عبث نما" پرداخت. کتاب او هنوز هم پس از...more
Lynn
One of the best analyses of the Theatre of the Absurd.
Andrea Delesdernier
The definitive book on Absurdist Theatre history. I read and studied this book in college and recently purchased the book on vacation at Calico Cat Bookstore in Ventura, CA. Inspired to me pull out my favorite Absurdist authors (Beckett, Ionesca, Albee, Camus, Pinter, Vonnegut, and yes Trey Parker and Matt Stone) and dive into a modern study.

"...the Theatre of the Absurd does not provoke tears of despair but the laughter of liberation."
MARTIN ESSLIN
Tosh
A great overall history and sort of a shopping list of 'who's great' in the field of Absurd theater. The one-stop place to check out what was hitting Europe in the fifties and early Sixties on the avant-garde stages of various cities. This book has been in and out of print ever since it was published (mid-60's?). Get it, and keep it by the bedside.
Ola
Used it as a textbook as a student and as a teacher. The more background information you have, the easier this is to digest. My students got lost in the "name-dropping" in certain chapters.
E.W.
Anyone remotely interested in the writing of Beckett, Sartre, Camus, Genet, Pinter, Ionesco, Albee or the development of post WWII theatre should read this text.
Rezan
This book is a great introductory of The Absurd Theatre. I have learnt a lot of issues about this literary movement from this book.
Ano
Oct 25, 2007 Ano rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
good introduction to study the art of particular genre in theathre.
Yusnia Laili
Good for the beginner to study Theater of The Absurd
Emma
I've got an old Pelican edition of this; it's excellent.
Thomas Walsh
The best intro to this topic I've ever read!!
Diana Polansky
I've read about half of this...need to finish.
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Martin Julius Esslin OBE (6 June 1918 – 24 February 2002) was a Hungarian-born English producer and playwright dramatist, journalist, adaptor and translator, critic, academic scholar and professor of drama best known for coining the term "Theatre of the Absurd" in his work of that name (1961).

Born Julius Pereszlényi (Hungarian: Pereszlényi Gyula Márton) in Budapest, Esslin moved to Vienna with his...more
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