Theatre of the Absurd [Theater of the Absurd]

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

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In a historical sense, Theatre of the Absurd can be seen to have arisen in Greek drama (in the so-called Old Comedy, and then in the plays of Aristophanes in particular). The idea that “the world's a stage” was an ancient concept, later taken up by Shakespeare. Varronian satire was developed in the late classical period by Lucian (in Greek), and Petronius and Apuleius (Latin). Mikhail Bakhtin, in the twentieth century, highlighted Menippean satire in a tradition of carnivalistic literature, depicting “a world upside down”. Northrop Frye also linked such forms to his conception of the “anatomy”. Such scandalous and parodic elements were particularly prominent in Rabelais. Buffoonery and performance art led to forms of European popular theatre: thence pantomime, music hall and…

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Citation: Cornwell, Neil. "Theatre of the Absurd [Theater of the Absurd]". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 05 January 2005 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=12, accessed 19 April 2024.]

12 Theatre of the Absurd [Theater of the Absurd] 2 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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