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The Theatre of the Absurd (Plays and Playwrights) [Paperback]

Martin Esslin
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
RRP: 14.99
Price: 13.79 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Sep 2003 Plays and Playwrights
Esslin shows how Samuel Beckett, Ionesco, Genet, Pinter and others have confronted a world in which there is no communication, where man - cut off from his traditional religious and metaphysical roots - flounders about in a purposeless void, shorn of all certainties.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 484 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury 3PL; 3 edition (1 Sep 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0413760502
  • ISBN-13: 978-0413760500
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 49,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


“Exciting and stimulating...a very useful reference work and a standard text book.” —"Literary Review" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Martin Esslin was born in Budapest and educated in Austria. He read Philosophy and English at Vienna University and graduated as a producer from the Reinhardt Seminar, the well-known dramatic academy. He left Austria in 1938 and in 1940 began working for the BBC as a producer, scriptwriter, and broadcaster. In 1963 he became Head of Radio Drama at the BBC, a position he held until his retirement in 1977. At his death in 2002 at the age of 83 he was Emeritus Professor of Drama at Stanford University. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absurdlutely Inviting 19 Mar 2003
By A Customer
This editortial on the Theatre of the Absurd should not only be part of a theatre students library, but also that of any theatre practitioners library.
This book is easy to read without being patronising, it is fair and well researched. It is also good to resad in the foreword that the playwrights also have made a contribution to the book by reviewing their chapters.
Esslin has been able to investigate a number of plays and playwrights without having prejudice for or against the theatre movement in question.
I have learnt to look deeply into the theatre of the absurd and the reasons for it without having to define the meanings behind it. This book has acted as a clear and enjoyable journey into The Theatre of the Absurd.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  7 reviews
37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars None Finer 12 Oct 2000
By Absurdist Ad Nauseam - Published on Amazon.com
If you have ever wished for one book to neatly package absurdist theatre, Mr. Esslin's book is the one. This book is readable, comprehendable, entertaining and engaging. In fact, it's rather difficult to put down. His introduction does wonders to dispel any myths as to what absurdist theatre is and isn't. He follows the introduction by individually highlighting those playwrights often associated with the absurd (Beckett, Adamov, Ionesco, Genet, and Pinter). Of interest is the fact that he does not overwhelm or bore the reader by providing an excess of information. On the contrary, each section is unbelievably tight. His section on Adamov is much appreciated, considering that finding anything on him is near impossible. He then continues with his "Parallels and Proselytes" in which he touches on "lesser-known" playwrights (Albee, Arrabal, and others). He follows this section with three more equally fascinating chapters. In short, Mr. Esslin packs a breadth of relevant information into 480 pages. "The Theatre of the Absurd" should find a welcome home on the bookshelves of actors, directors, dramaturgs, playwrights, or those with an interest in theatre. Buy it, you won't be disappointed.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A classic on the history of theatre and thought 3 May 2000
By J. B. Marques - Published on Amazon.com
I came to read this book for a paper I decided to write on Samuel Beckett, for my Theory of History course. A friend who's an actress recommended it for me, and it was an amazing discovery. From an historian's point of view, this book is a rich, challenging and informative approach to one of the most important aspects of the ideology crisis from the beginning of the XXth. Century. As I came to know later, it's a classic on the theatre field as well.
Apart from Beckett and some minor authors, there are chapters on Adamov, Ionescu, Genet and Pinter, and a superb essay on the meaning of the concept of "absurd" of human existence. A must read for anyone who wishes to understand not only the art, but the ideas which shaped the latest century.
18 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a must read for the theatre teacher. 20 July 2000
By Daniel Stowell - Published on Amazon.com
Esslin outlines important facts about this complicated and confusing theatrical movement. He helps provide a basic understanding for anyone who would like to know about Beckett, Ionesco, Adamov, Genet, and Pinter. Absurdism is probably the least understood of all modern theatrical movements of the twentieth century, but Esslin makes it accessible. If you study, teach, design,or perform in the theatre you need to read this book, it is the authoritative text on absurdist theatre.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you care about the future (and past) of representative art 15 Nov 2007
By Travis Austin Chamberlain - Published on Amazon.com
Anyone interested in the problem of trying to understand and communicate what "reality" means to you on a deeply philosophical level and is curious about how some of the greatest minds in theatrical history have wrestled with this same issue in their own work should READ THIS BOOK. Even if you don't think you care about those things, read this book--you may find that you actually do and you owe it to yourself to find out. It is accessible and revelatory and continues to provide insights that would seem applicable to the future of theater/film/and all other representative artforms. We are still struggling with many of the issues Esslin addresses and our contemporary art has not yet fully integrated his insights into mainstream thought. We can't expect representative art to take any important leaps forward without first understanding the relevance of the Absurd. This book taught me that. I'm really glad I found it.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't get me wrong the book is great - the kindle version is my issue 25 Nov 2011
By Joshua - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I was reading an old library copy of the 2nd edition and discovered there was a third, downloaded it to kindle on my iPad, and am disappointed. The text has several errors in it, like the book was scanned and OCR software was used, but not thoroughly error checked by a real person. Many errors are easy enough to figure out, but some are more challenging. Also important formatting was lost such as block indentation of quotes. As I am reading this for a school paper, it is important to know what's a quote and what isn't. Would love to get a corrected version of this otherwise great book.
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