Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015. — x+168 p. — (Cambridge Introductions to Literature). — ISBN 978-1-107-05392-2.
In his book, Michael Bennett sets out to provide a scholarly but reader-friendly appraisal of the literary and dramatic manifestations of the absurd. After re-interpreting Albert Camus and re-evaluating Martin Esslin’s inescapable legacy (by downplaying the perceived pessimism of his reading), Bennett puts forward a working definition of absurd literature, which in turn legitimises his choices related to his absurdist corpus and canon. Then, having described the economic and cultural context surrounding the emergence of what Esslin termed the ‘Theatre of the Absurd’, Bennett proceeds to discuss the work of some key practitioners of the absurd, with Samuel Beckett functioning as the understandable epicentre of his analysis, though reference is also made to writers that belie the widespread but inaccurate idea that the absurd is homogenous in terms of race, gender, generation or even literary tradition. In the last section, Bennett briefly comments on the abrupt rise, steady fall and recent revival of absurd criticism.
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