Download PDF by Neil Cornwell: Absurd in Literature

By Neil Cornwell

Neil Cornwell's research, whereas endeavouring to give an historic survey of absurdist literature and its forbears, doesn't aspire to being an exhaustive heritage of absurdism. fairly, it pauses on definite historic moments, creative pursuits, literary figures and chosen works, ahead of relocating directly to talk about 4 key writers: Daniil Kharms, Franz Kafka, Samuel Beckett and Flann O'Brien.

The absurd in literature can be of compelling curiosity to a substantial variety of scholars of comparative, ecu (including Russian and valuable eu) and English literatures (British Isles and American) - in addition to these extra inquisitive about theatre experiences, the avant-garde and the historical past of principles (including humour theory). it may even have a vast entice the enthusiastic basic reader.

"I think that with one of these survey, Cornwell's booklet often is the new average released quantity at the absurd."--Professor Richard J. Lane.

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432), is ripe for exploitation, and it will come as no surprise when we see that this is already under way in critical analysis of the absurd in literature. The much-vaunted inadequacy or deception of language (meandering from the Greeks to the esoterics; from the Romantics to the ‘post-metaphysical’ thought of Nietzsche, through to Heidegger and Derrida) may manifest itself in the inexorable processes of logic, in theories of communication, or language game. David Pears comments that ‘it would be strange to argue that, because language is a creation of the human mind, it cannot be a guide to the general features of reality’ (Pears, 32).

The ‘return’ aspect apart, the concept of ‘eternity’ is frequently seen as a disturbing one: Woody Allen has said ‘eternity is very long, especially toward the end’ (quoted by Rees, 3). Terry Eagleton (243–4) opines: ‘Like the smaller Greek islands, Eden is alluring, but there is not enough to do’, while Beckett refers to a ‘promise of God knows what fatuous eternity’ (Beckett, CSP, 62). Paul Davies provides an accessible account of such ideas in his book The Last Three Minutes (1994); more recent developments in cosmological thinking may be accessed from, for instance, the 1999 BBC series The Universe (repeated 2001) and Channel 4’s Edge of the Universe (2002).

Underlying the nonsense verse of the German poet Christian Morgenstern is a feeling of the ‘absurdity of existence, pointing to God as the only solution’; Tigges glosses this as ‘a Chestertonian attitude’, in that ‘“absurd” here means inexplicable and wonderful’ (Tigges, 1988, 16; 126, n. K. Chesterton (subsequently himself a Catholic convert), in his essay ‘A Defence of Nonsense’ (1901), had written of the ‘new literature’ (Lear and Carroll): ‘it has its own version of the Cosmos to offer, namely that the world is not only tragic, romantic, religious, but also nonsensical, in as much as Creation is itself nonsensical rather than logical’ (quoted by Tigges, 1988, 8).

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