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Anathematizing Barthes and Admiring Beckett with Eugène Ionesco

Anathematizing Barthes and Admiring Beckett with Eugène Ionesco This article explores the world of theatre from within and beyond the stage and brings together Roland Barthes as a critic and Samuel Beckett as a playwright via a third character, the Romanian-born playwright Eugène Ionesco, who anathematized the former and admired the latter. The article starts from Martin Esslin’s The Theatre of the Absurd (1961), which defined Beckett’s and Ionesco’s art, pointing out that whilst Esslin showed why their works produced ‘bewilderment’ in England and the US, he ignored the Paris debates of the 1950s to early 1960s. It then covers the intricate history of Barthes’s polemical articles on avant-garde theatre and focuses on Barthes hailing Bertolt Brecht as an innovator who redefined theatre as belonging to a community. The next section engages with Beckett’s and Ionesco’s ideas on staging and their relation to Brecht and the Brechtians. The epilogue proposes a reading of Ionesco’s satirical play Improvisation or the Shepherd’s Chameleon (1955), which features Barthes and two other representatives of nouvelle critique as characters. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Paragraph Edinburgh University Press

Anathematizing Barthes and Admiring Beckett with Eugène Ionesco

Paragraph , Volume 45 (2): 16 – Jul 1, 2022

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
Copyright © Edinburgh University Press
ISSN
0264-8334
eISSN
1750-0176
DOI
10.3366/para.2022.0396
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article explores the world of theatre from within and beyond the stage and brings together Roland Barthes as a critic and Samuel Beckett as a playwright via a third character, the Romanian-born playwright Eugène Ionesco, who anathematized the former and admired the latter. The article starts from Martin Esslin’s The Theatre of the Absurd (1961), which defined Beckett’s and Ionesco’s art, pointing out that whilst Esslin showed why their works produced ‘bewilderment’ in England and the US, he ignored the Paris debates of the 1950s to early 1960s. It then covers the intricate history of Barthes’s polemical articles on avant-garde theatre and focuses on Barthes hailing Bertolt Brecht as an innovator who redefined theatre as belonging to a community. The next section engages with Beckett’s and Ionesco’s ideas on staging and their relation to Brecht and the Brechtians. The epilogue proposes a reading of Ionesco’s satirical play Improvisation or the Shepherd’s Chameleon (1955), which features Barthes and two other representatives of nouvelle critique as characters.

Journal

ParagraphEdinburgh University Press

Published: Jul 1, 2022

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