Eugène Ionesco Drama Analysis
Although Eugène Ionesco’s dramatic art is often traced to such precursors as the plays of Alfred Jarry and Antonin Artaud, it is essentially sui generis, springing primarily from nightmarish visions deeply rooted in the author’s own mind and experience. In fact, two of his later plays, A Hell of a Mess and Man with Bags, can be traced directly to nightmares recorded in his autobiographical writings of the mid-1960’s. As a boy, he recalled, he frequently attended puppet shows mounted for children in the Jardin de Luxembourg; during the years since, he remained haunted by the reverse relationship of human beings to marionettes, seeing his fellow mortals as puppets pulled by forces unseen and unexplained, prone to violence either as perpetrator or as victim. Puppetry must thus be seen as one of the strongest verifiable influences on Ionesco’s theater, as on modern drama in general. Indeed, the grotesquely “flat” characters of The Bald Soprano, although immediately drawn from names assigned at random to dialogue in a language textbook, can readily be traced to a deeper, more fecund source in the tradition of the Punch and Judy show.
Critic Martin Esslin hailed Ionesco’s theater as a far more effective illustration of Albert Camus’s concept of the absurd than Camus himself had ever written for the stage. Forsaking the convenience of rational expression still relied on by Camus, Jean Anouilh, and even...
(The entire section is 6430 words.)
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