Jean-Paul Sartre (1957) once said "Man is condemned to be free; because, once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does." (23) Whether this is good or bad is not an issue, whereas the implications derived from this are profound. Life, in this case, has no fixed purpose, and we are free to give it one; perhaps it is more appropriate to say that we are condemned to give it one, instead. One look at today's western modernized society makes it seem as if we strive to learn about everything and invent the ultimate tool to carry out all conceivable tasks for us (however artificial the task may be.) Writers, like Albert Camus, describe how waiting, or more generally, boredom, causes the individual to put serious effort into thought of questions regarding one's identity. It is easily seen, thus, that with the way our society has developed, it was inevitable that things like the existential philosophical movement and the literary absurdist movement would emerge from an era of modernism.
Perhaps one of the more famous absurdists was the 1969 Nobel Literature Prize winner, Samuel Beckett. His most popular play, 'Waiting For Godot,' is easily classified as an absurdist work by its properties, or lack thereof, as pointed out in a 1955 review of the play:
"Beckett defies every known law of playwriting, his play is about nothing... Each Act is interrupted by a big bully and a fool he keeps on a chain... That is all. There is no climax, no sense of anticipation and the situation becomes obvious in the first five minutes." (Barker, qtd. In Butler 22)
This reviewer naively added "I think that people are wrong in trying to read a philosophy i...
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... us aside, making us feel homeless and alienated no matter where we are or try to go, "For reasons unknown."
Astro, Alan (1990). Understanding Samuel Beckett. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press.
Beckett, Samuel (1954). Waiting for Godot. New York: Grove Press.
Beckett, Samuel (1958). Endgame. New York: Grove Press.
Beckett, Samuel (1974). First Love and Other Shorts. New York: Grove Press.
Butler, L. St. J. (ed.) (1993) Critical Essays on Samuel Beckett. Brookfield: Scolar Press.
Jeffares, A. N., & Bushrui, S (Eds.). (1981) York Notes on Waiting for Godot. London: York Press.
Sartre, Jean-Paul (1957). Existentialism and Human Emotions. New Jersey: Citadel Press, Inc.
Sartre, Jean-Paul (1946). No Exit and Three Other Plays (Vintage 1989)
Webster Online Dictionary, (1986) Formatted 1994.
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