Symbolism, surrealism, and the absurd


Symbolism, surrealism, and the absurd

J.L. Styan

(Modern drama in theory and practice / J.L. Styan, v. 2)

Cambridge University Press, 1981

  • : hard

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Bibliography: p. [199]-216

Includes index



This book was first published in 1981. The theories of Wagner and Nietzsche provide the basic principles for this volume, disseminated by the work of Appia and Craig, and affecting the later plays of Ibsen, Maeterlinck, and Lugne-Poe's Theatre de Le'Oeuvre. Jarry is seen as the precursor of surrealism; later symbolist elements are found in the plays of Claudel, Giraudoux, Yeats, Eliot, Lorca and Pirandello. Artaud's theatre of cruelty is related to the work of Peter Brook. The theatre of the absurd is illustrated in Sartre, Beckett, Pinter and Ionesco. Recent avant-garde theatre in America and Britain also reveals elements of symbolism.


  • List of illustrations
  • Acknowledgements
  • Preface
  • 1. The symbolic in drama
  • 2. Theoretical beginnings: Wagner and Nietzsche
  • 3. Symbolic theatre: Appia and lighting design Tristan und Isolde (1899 and 1923)
  • 4. Symbolic theatre: Craig and stage design: The Moscow Hamlet (1912)
  • 5. Symbolist drama: Ibsen to Maeterlinck and Lugne-Poe Hedda Gabler (1890), Pelleas et Melisande (1893)
  • 6. Symbolist drama after Maeterlinck Salome (1896), The Life of Man (1907)
  • 7. Jarry, precursor of surrealism in France Ubo roi (1896)
  • 8. Dada and surrealism in France: Tzara to Cocteau The Wedding on the Eiffel Tower (1921)
  • 9. Symbolist drama in English: Yeats and Japanese Noh drama At the Hawk's Well (1916)
  • 10. Symbolist drama in English: Eliot and religious drama Murder in the Cathedral (1935)
  • 11. Pirandello and the teatro grottesco: Six Characters in Search of an Author (1921)
  • 12. Symbolist drama in Spain: Garcia Lorca The House of Bernarda Alba (1936)
  • 13. Stylization in France: Copeau and after Noah (1931), The Trojan War Will Not Take Place (1935)
  • 14. Theatre of cruelty: Artaud and Peter Brook The Marat/Sade (1965)
  • 15. The existentialist play: Sartre and Camus The Flies (1943), Caligula (1945)
  • 16. Theatre of the absurd: Beckett and Pinter Waiting for Godot (1952)
  • 17. Theatre of the absurd: Ionesco and others The Bald Prima Donna (1950)
  • 18. Ritual theatre and Jean Genet The Balcony (1957), The Blacks (1959)
  • 19. After Artaud: avant-garde theatre in Poland and America Frankenstein (1965)
  • 20. Happenings and other improvisation in America Dionysus in 69 (1968)
  • 21. Recent fringe theatre in Britain Christie in Love (1969), AC/DC (1969)
  • 22. Symbolist theatre: retrospectively
  • Table of events in the theatre
  • Bibliography
  • Index.

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