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The Theatre of the Absurd, the Grotesque and Politics

A Study of Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and Tom Stoppard


Jadwiga Uchman

The monograph deals with chosen aspects of modern drama based on the output of three playwrights. It discusses the works of Beckett, Pinter and Stoppard in reference to their employment of the grotesque and the theatre of the absurd. Elements of the grotesque appear in political dramas of all three playwrights. While Beckett does not shy away from absurdity in his plays, some of the early dramas of Pinter and Stoppard present a general existential condition of man, even though their strictly political plays are basically realistic in respect to form, yet satirical in their content. Most of the political plays discussed portray the absurdity of totalitarian countries, stemming from the tragicomic discrepancy between what the authorities are saying they are doing and their actual actions.

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1. Samuel Beckett

1.1. Plays

“Catastrophe.” Collected Shorter Plays. London, Boston: Faber and Faber, 1989. 295–301.

“Embers.” Collected Shorter Plays. London, Boston: Faber and Faber, 1989. 91–104.

“Waiting for Godot.” The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett. Vol. 1. Ed. Dougald McMillan and James Knowlson. London: Faber and Faber: 1993. 7–85.

“What Where.” The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett. Collected Shorter Plays Vol. 4. Ed. S. E. Gontarski, 405–414. “General Editor’s Note,” James Knowlson vii-viii; “Introduction” and “Notes” S. E. Gontarski. (xv–xxiv, 449–472). London: Faber & Faber, 1999.

Endgame. New York: Grove Press, 1978.

What Where. The Revised Text. Ed. S. E. Gontarski. Journal of Beckett Studies. 1992, 2/1: 11–26.

1.2. Interviews listed by reviewer

D’Aubarede, Gabriel, “An Interview with Beckett.” Nouvelles Littéraires, 16 February 1961, 1, 7. Translated by Christopher Waters. Samuel Beckett. The Critical Heritage. Eds. Lawrence Graver and Raymond Federman. London, Henley and Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1979. 215– 217.

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