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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Absurdism in literature (or Absurdist fiction) usually focuses on characters or situations who can find no meaningful purpose in life. Contradictions regarding the universe and human actions are a primary theme, creating a world in which things become "humanly impossible." The search for the meaning of life is regarded as an impossibility, since no meaning actually exists. One philosophical definition of absurdism is that it is a

... school of thought stating that the efforts of humanity to find inherent meaning will ultimately fail (and hence are absurd), because no such meaning exists, at least in relation to the individual. As a philosophy, absurdism also explores the fundamental nature of the Absurd and how individuals, once becoming conscious of the Absurd, should react to it.

Absurdism is similar to existentialism and nihilism and, in literature, is often presented as a form of satire or dark comedy. Themes of agnosticism, surrealism and nihilism are often present. The art movements of Dada and surrealism are also based on absurdism.

aakrit | Student

As we can very clearly observe, "Absurdism" comes from the word 'absurd' and its literal meaning is 'something unusual or strange and different from traditional things'. So, we can understand 'absurdism' in easy terms as a genre of literature which does not employ the traditional plot structure, rather it is comparable to surrealism, existentialism and Dadaism for its approach and treatment of characters and use of expressions.

The 'Absurd theatre' first began in France, specifically Paris in late 19th and early 20th century.This genre is employed to various literary forms like plays, poems or novels.

Usually, in an absurd piece or work, the characters behave in a quite confused manner and act irrationally - the common confusion being their reason and purpose of existence. They continuously face a situation or philosophical condition of being "nothing." Some examples (that I have read :)) can be : Harold Pinter's "The Birthday Party' and poems of Bertolt Brecht.

The characters in absurd works seem to be lost and floating in a strange world; they continuosly grope or search for exact and accurate expressions to communicate themselves.Their world appears to be incomprehensible to the audience or readers. Many a times, their language is nonsensical and illogical,eg., conversation between Goldberg and Stanley in 'The Birthday Party'. The characters of such plays geneally are depicted in pairs,either two males or one male and one female.

According to absurdists there is no meaning in life.The world is permeated by men but there is no man.Human life is like a buble." Waiting for Godot" is glorious example of absurd literature where leafless tree and no development of plot shows human conditions as the world is necropolis of living beings. Tsb khan

  1. Absurdism is derived from word absurd which means not clear or something different.Absurdism literature was commenced in early twenty century the era of post world war.When people had been started doubt on religious values.Absurdism literature has everything loose and revolt against the traditional values.