Eugène Ionesco

Eugène Ionesco

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Eugène Ionesco was a Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

n and French
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 playwright and dramatist, and one of the foremost playwright
Playwright
A playwright, also called a dramatist, is a person who writes plays.The term is not a variant spelling of "playwrite", but something quite distinct: the word wright is an archaic English term for a craftsman or builder...

s of the Theatre of the Absurd
Theatre of the Absurd
The Theatre of the Absurd is a designation for particular plays of absurdist fiction, written by a number of primarily European playwrights in the late 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, as well as to the style of theatre which has evolved from their work...

. Beyond ridiculing the most banal situations, Ionesco's plays depict in a tangible way the solitude and insignificance of human existence.

Background


Ionesco was born in Slatina, Romania
Slatina, Romania
Slatina is the capital city of Olt county, Romania, on the river Olt.The city administers one village, Cireaşov.-History:The town of Slatina was first mentioned on January 20, 1368 in an official document issued by Vladislav I Vlaicu, Prince of Wallachia. The document stated that merchants from...

, to a Romanian
Romanians
The Romanians are an ethnic group native to Romania, who speak Romanian; they are the majority inhabitants of Romania....

 father of the Orthodox
Romanian Orthodox Church
The Romanian Orthodox Church is an autocephalous Eastern Orthodox church. It is in full communion with other Eastern Orthodox churches, and is ranked seventh in order of precedence. The Primate of the church has the title of Patriarch...

 religion and a mother of French
French people
The French are a nation that share a common French culture and speak the French language as a mother tongue. Historically, the French population are descended from peoples of Celtic, Latin and Germanic origin, and are today a mixture of several ethnic groups...

 and Greek-Romanian heritage, whose religion was Protestant
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 (the religion into which her father was born and to which her originally Greek Orthodox
Greek Orthodox Church
The Greek Orthodox Church is the body of several churches within the larger communion of Eastern Orthodox Christianity sharing a common cultural tradition whose liturgy is also traditionally conducted in Koine Greek, the original language of the New Testament...

 mother had converted). Eugène himself was baptized into the Romanian Orthodox religion. Many sources cite his birthdate as 1912, this error being due to vanity on the part of Ionesco himself.

He spent most of his childhood in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 and, while there, had an experience he claimed affected his perception of the world more significantly than any other. As Deborah B. Gaensbauer describes in Eugene Ionesco Revisited, "Walking in summer sunshine in a white-washed provincial village under an intense blue sky, [Ionesco] was profoundly altered by the light." He was struck very suddenly with a feeling of intense luminosity, the feeling of floating off the ground and an overwhelming feeling of well-being. When he "floated" back to the ground and the "light" left him, he saw that the real world in comparison was full of decay, corruption and meaningless repetitive action. This also coincided with the revelation that death takes everyone in the end. Much of his later work, reflecting this new perception, demonstrates a disgust for the tangible world, a distrust of communication, and the subtle sense that a better world lies just beyond our reach. Echoes of this experience can also be seen in references and themes in many of his important works: characters pining for an unattainable "city of lights" (The Killer, The Chairs) or perceiving a world beyond (A Stroll in the Air); characters granted the ability to fly (A Stroll in the Air, Amédée); the banality of the world which often leads to depression (the Bérenger
Rhinoceros (play)
Rhinoceros is a play by Eugène Ionesco, written in 1959. The play belongs to the school of drama known as the Theatre of the Absurd...

 character); ecstatic revelations of beauty within a pessimistic framework (Amédée, The Chairs, the Bérenger character); and the inevitability of death (Exit the King).
He returned to Romania with his father and mother in 1925 after his parents divorced. There he attended Saint Sava National College
Saint Sava National College
The Saint Sava National College is the oldest and one of the most prestigious high schools in Bucharest, Romania....

, after which he studied French Literature
French literature
French literature is, generally speaking, literature written in the French language, particularly by citizens of France; it may also refer to literature written by people living in France who speak traditional languages of France other than French. Literature written in French language, by citizens...

 at the University of Bucharest
University of Bucharest
The University of Bucharest , in Romania, is a university founded in 1864 by decree of Prince Alexander John Cuza to convert the former Saint Sava Academy into the current University of Bucharest.-Presentation:...

 from 1928 to 1933 and qualified as a teacher of French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

. While there he met Emil Cioran
Emil Cioran
-Early life:Emil M. Cioran was born in Răşinari, Sibiu County, which was part of Austria-Hungary at the time. His father, Emilian Cioran, was a Romanian Orthodox priest, while his mother, Elvira Cioran , was originally from Veneţia de Jos, a commune near Făgăraş.After studying humanities at the...

 and Mircea Eliade
Mircea Eliade
Mircea Eliade was a Romanian historian of religion, fiction writer, philosopher, and professor at the University of Chicago. He was a leading interpreter of religious experience, who established paradigms in religious studies that persist to this day...

, and the three became lifelong friends.

In 1936 Ionesco married Rodica Burileanu. Together they had one daughter for whom he wrote a number of unconventional children's stories. He and his family returned to France in 1938 for him to complete his doctoral thesis. Caught by the outbreak of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 in 1939, he returned to Romania, but soon changed his mind and, with the help of friends, obtained travel documents which allowed him to return to France in 1942, where he remained during the rest of the war, living in Marseille
Marseille
Marseille , known in antiquity as Massalia , is the second largest city in France, after Paris, with a population of 852,395 within its administrative limits on a land area of . The urban area of Marseille extends beyond the city limits with a population of over 1,420,000 on an area of...

 before moving with his family to Paris after its liberation.

Ionesco was made a member of the Académie française
Académie française
L'Académie française , also called the French Academy, is the pre-eminent French learned body on matters pertaining to the French language. The Académie was officially established in 1635 by Cardinal Richelieu, the chief minister to King Louis XIII. Suppressed in 1793 during the French Revolution,...

 in 1970. He also received numerous awards including Tours Festival Prize for film, 1959; Prix Italia, 1963; Society of Authors Theatre Prize, 1966; Grand Prix National for theatre, 1969; Monaco Grand Prix, 1969; Austrian State Prize for European Literature
Austrian State Prize for European Literature
The Austrian State Prize for European Literature , also known as the European Literary Award , is a literary prize in Austria awarded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Art to European writers...

, 1970; Jerusalem Prize
Jerusalem Prize
The Jerusalem Prize for the Freedom of the Individual in Society is a biennial literary award given to writers whose works have dealt with themes of human freedom in society. It is awarded at the Jerusalem International Book Fair, and the recipient usually delivers an address when accepting the award...

, 1973; and honorary Doctoral Degrees from New York University
New York University
New York University is a private, nonsectarian research university based in New York City. NYU's main campus is situated in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan...

 and the Universities of Leuven
Leuven
Leuven is the capital of the province of Flemish Brabant in the Flemish Region, Belgium...

, Warwick
Warwick
Warwick is the county town of Warwickshire, England. The town lies upon the River Avon, south of Coventry and just west of Leamington Spa and Whitnash with which it is conjoined. As of the 2001 United Kingdom census, it had a population of 23,350...

 and Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv
Tel Aviv , officially Tel Aviv-Yafo , is the second most populous city in Israel, with a population of 404,400 on a land area of . The city is located on the Israeli Mediterranean coastline in west-central Israel. It is the largest and most populous city in the metropolitan area of Gush Dan, with...

. Eugène Ionesco died at age 84 on 28 March 1994 and is buried in the Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

.

Ionesco the author



Writing in Romania


Though best known as a playwright, plays were not his first chosen medium. He started writing poetry and criticism, publishing in several Romanian journals. Two early writings of note are Nu, a book criticizing many other writers, including prominent Romanian poets, and Hugoliade, or, The grotesque and tragic life of Victor Hugo a satirical biography mocking Victor Hugo
Victor Hugo
Victor-Marie Hugo was a Frenchpoet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artist, statesman, human rights activist and exponent of the Romantic movement in France....

's status as a great figure in French literature. The Hugoliade includes exaggerated retellings of the most scandalous episodes in Hugo's life and contains prototypes for many of Ionesco's later themes: the ridiculous authoritarian character, the false worship of language.

The origins of his first play


Like Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett
Samuel Barclay Beckett was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet. He wrote both in English and French. His work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human nature, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour.Beckett is widely regarded as among the most...

, Ionesco began his theatre career late: he did not write his first play until 1948 (La Cantatrice chauve
The Bald Soprano
La Cantatrice Chauve — translated from French as The Bald Soprano or The Bald Prima Donna — is the first play written by Franco-Romanian playwright Eugène Ionesco. Nicolas Bataille directed the premiere on May 11, 1950 at the Théâtre des Noctambules, Paris...

, first performed in 1950 with the English title The Bald Soprano). At the age of 40 he decided to learn English using the Assimil
Assimil
Assimil is a French company, founded by Alphonse Chérel in 1929. It creates and publishes foreign language courses, which began with their first book Anglais Sans Peine...

 method, conscientiously copying whole sentences in order to memorize them. Re-reading them, he began to feel that he was not learning English, rather he was discovering some astonishing truths such as the fact that there are seven days in a week, that the ceiling is up and the floor is down; things which he already knew, but which suddenly struck him as being as stupefying as they were indisputably true.

This feeling only intensified with the introduction in later lessons of the characters known as "Mr. and Mrs. Smith". To his astonishment, Mrs. Smith informed her husband that they had several children, that they lived in the vicinity of London, that their name was Smith, that Mr. Smith was a clerk, and that they had a servant, Mary, who was English like themselves. What was remarkable about Mrs. Smith, he thought, was her eminently methodical procedure in her quest for truth. For Ionesco, the clichés and truisms of the conversation primer
Primer (textbook)
A primer is a first textbook for teaching of reading, such as an alphabet book or basal reader. The word also is used more broadly to refer to any book that presents the most basic elements of a subject....

 disintegrated into wild caricature and parody with language itself disintegrating into disjointed fragments of words. Ionesco set about translating this experience into a play, La Cantatrice Chauve, which was performed for the first time in 1950 under the direction of Nicolas Bataille. It was far from a success and went unnoticed until a few established writers and critics, among them Jean Anouilh
Jean Anouilh
Jean Marie Lucien Pierre Anouilh was a French dramatist whose career spanned five decades. Though his work ranged from high drama to absurdist farce, Anouilh is best known for his 1943 play Antigone, an adaptation of Sophocles' Classical drama, that was seen as an attack on Marshal Pétain's...

 and Raymond Queneau
Raymond Queneau
Raymond Queneau was a French poet and novelist and the co-founder of Ouvroir de littérature potentielle .-Biography:Born in Le Havre, Seine-Maritime, Queneau was the only child of Auguste Queneau and Joséphine Mignot...

, championed the play.

Early plays


Ionesco's earliest works, and his most innovative, were one-act nonsense plays: La Cantatrice chauve
The Bald Soprano
La Cantatrice Chauve — translated from French as The Bald Soprano or The Bald Prima Donna — is the first play written by Franco-Romanian playwright Eugène Ionesco. Nicolas Bataille directed the premiere on May 11, 1950 at the Théâtre des Noctambules, Paris...

(1950), La Leçon
La Leçon
The Lesson is a one-act play by Eugène Ionesco. It was first performed in 1951 in a production directed by Marcel Cuvelier . Claude Mansard played the Maid and Rosette Zuchelli played the Pupil in that production. Since 1957 it has been in permanent production at Paris' Théâtre de la Huchette, on...

translated as The Lesson (1951), Les Chaises
Les Chaises
Les Chaises is an absurdist "tragic farce" by Eugene Ionesco. It was written in 1952 and debuted the same year.- Plot :The play concerns two characters, known as Old Man and Old Woman, frantically preparing chairs for a series of invisible guests who are coming to hear an orator reveal the old...

translated as The Chairs (1952), and Jacques ou la soumission
Jacques ou la soumission
Jack, or The Submission is an absurd play by Eugène Ionesco, the first of two about Jack and his family, all of whom are named after Jack ....

translated as Jack, or The Submission (1955). These absurdist sketches, to which he gave such descriptions as "anti-play" (anti-pièce in French) express modern feelings of alienation and the impossibility and futility of communication with surreal
Surrealism
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members....

 comic force, parodying the conformism of the bourgeoisie and conventional theatrical forms. In them Ionesco rejects a conventional story-line as their basis, instead taking their dramatic structure from accelerating rhythms and/or cyclical repetitions. He disregards psychology and coherent dialogue, thereby depicting a dehumanized world with mechanical, puppet-like characters who speak in non-sequiturs
Non sequitur (logic)
Non sequitur , in formal logic, is an argument in which its conclusion does not follow from its premises. In a non sequitur, the conclusion could be either true or false, but the argument is fallacious because there is a disconnection between the premise and the conclusion. All formal fallacies...

. Language becomes rarefied, with words and material objects gaining a life of their own, increasingly overwhelming the characters and creating a sense of menace.

The full-length plays


With Tueur sans gages translated as The Killer (1959; his second full-length play, the first being Amédée, ou Comment s'en débarrasser in 1954), Ionesco began to explore more sustained dramatic situations featuring more humanized characters. Notably this includes Bérenger, a central character in a number of Ionesco's plays, the last of which is Le Piéton de l'air translated as A Stroll in the Air.

Bérenger is a semi-autobiographical figure expressing Ionesco's wonderment and anguish at the strangeness of reality. He is comically naïve, engaging the audience's sympathy. In The Killer he encounters death in the figure of a serial killer. In Rhinocéros
Rhinoceros (play)
Rhinoceros is a play by Eugène Ionesco, written in 1959. The play belongs to the school of drama known as the Theatre of the Absurd...

he watches his friends turning into rhinoceros
Rhinoceros
Rhinoceros , also known as rhino, is a group of five extant species of odd-toed ungulates in the family Rhinocerotidae. Two of these species are native to Africa and three to southern Asia....

es one by one until he alone stands unchanged against this mass movement. It is in this play that Ionesco most forcefully expresses his horror of ideological conformism, inspired by the rise of the fascist
Fascism
Fascism is a radical authoritarian nationalist political ideology. Fascists seek to rejuvenate their nation based on commitment to the national community as an organic entity, in which individuals are bound together in national identity by suprapersonal connections of ancestry, culture, and blood...

 Iron Guard
Iron Guard
The Iron Guard is the name most commonly given to a far-right movement and political party in Romania in the period from 1927 into the early part of World War II. The Iron Guard was ultra-nationalist, fascist, anti-communist, and promoted the Orthodox Christian faith...

 in Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

 in the 1930s. Le Roi se meurt translated as Exit the King (1962) shows him as King Bérenger 1st, an everyman
Everyman
In literature and drama, the term everyman has come to mean an ordinary individual, with whom the audience or reader is supposed to be able to identify easily, and who is often placed in extraordinary circumstances...

 figure who struggles to come to terms with his own death.

Later works


Ionesco's later work has generally received less attention. This includes La Soif et la faim
Hunger and Thirst
Hunger and Thirst is one of the last plays by Eugène Ionesco. It was first published in French in 1966. The play has one act divided into four periods. In the play, Ionesco depicts religion as an expression of conformism and of the alienation of idealism to the establishment....

translated as Hunger and Thirst (1966), Jeux de massacre (1971), Macbett
Macbett
Macbett is Eugène Ionesco's satire on Shakespeare's Macbeth.-Plot:Two generals, Macbett and Banco, put down a rebellion. In payment for their heroic service, Archduke Duncan promises to bestow on them land, titles and cash, but he reneges on the deal. Encouraged by the seductive Lady Duncan,...

(1972, a free adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth
Macbeth
The Tragedy of Macbeth is a play by William Shakespeare about a regicide and its aftermath. It is Shakespeare's shortest tragedy and is believed to have been written sometime between 1603 and 1607...

) and Ce formidable bordel (1973).

Apart from the libretto
Libretto
A libretto is the text used in an extended musical work such as an opera, operetta, masque, oratorio, cantata, or musical. The term "libretto" is also sometimes used to refer to the text of major liturgical works, such as mass, requiem, and sacred cantata, or even the story line of a...

 for the opera
Opera
Opera is an art form in which singers and musicians perform a dramatic work combining text and musical score, usually in a theatrical setting. Opera incorporates many of the elements of spoken theatre, such as acting, scenery, and costumes and sometimes includes dance...

 Maximilien Kolbe (music by Dominique Probst
Dominique Probst
Dominique Probst is a French composer.The son of a noted playwright, Gisele Casadesus, and actor and director with the Comédie-Française, Lucien Probst, Dominique Probst won the First Prize for Percussion with the National Music Conservatory, Paris, in 1978...

) which has been performed in five countries, filmed for television and recorded for release on CD, Ionesco did not write for the stage after Voyage chez les morts in 1981. However, La Cantatrice chauve
The Bald Soprano
La Cantatrice Chauve — translated from French as The Bald Soprano or The Bald Prima Donna — is the first play written by Franco-Romanian playwright Eugène Ionesco. Nicolas Bataille directed the premiere on May 11, 1950 at the Théâtre des Noctambules, Paris...

is still playing at the Théâtre de la Huchette today, having moved there in 1952.

Theoretical writings


Like Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60...

 and Brecht
Bertolt Brecht
Bertolt Brecht was a German poet, playwright, and theatre director.An influential theatre practitioner of the 20th century, Brecht made equally significant contributions to dramaturgy and theatrical production, the latter particularly through the seismic impact of the tours undertaken by the...

, Ionesco also contributed to the theatre with his theoretical writings (Wellwarth, 33). Ionesco wrote mainly in attempts to correct critics who he felt misunderstood his work and therefore wrongly influenced his audience. In doing so, Ionesco articulated ways in which he thought contemporary theatre should be reformed (Wellwarth, 33). Notes and Counter Notes is a collection of Ionesco's writings, including musings on why he chose to write for the theatre and direct responses to his contemporary critics.

In the first section, titled "Experience of the Theatre", Ionesco claimed to have hated going to the theatre as a child because it gave him "no pleasure or feeling of participation" (Ionesco, 15). He wrote that the problem with realistic theatre is that it is less interesting than theatre that invokes an "imaginative truth", which he found to be much more interesting and freeing than the "narrow" truth presented by strict realism (Ionesco, 15). He claimed that "drama that relies on simple effects is not necessarily drama simplified" (Ionesco, 28). Notes and Counter Notes also reprints a heated war of words between Ionesco and Kenneth Tynan
Kenneth Tynan
Kenneth Peacock Tynan was an influential and often controversial English theatre critic and writer.-Early life:...

 based on Ionesco's above stated beliefs and Ionesco's hatred for Brecht and Brechtian theatre.

Literary context


Ionesco is often considered a writer of the Theatre of the Absurd
Theatre of the Absurd
The Theatre of the Absurd is a designation for particular plays of absurdist fiction, written by a number of primarily European playwrights in the late 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, as well as to the style of theatre which has evolved from their work...

. This is a label originally given to him by Martin Esslin
Martin Esslin
Martin Julius Esslin OBE was a Hungarian-born English producer and playwright dramatist, journalist, adaptor and translator, critic, academic scholar and professor of drama best known for coining the term "Theatre of the Absurd" in his work of that name...

 in his book of the same name, placing Ionesco alongside such contemporary writers as Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett
Samuel Barclay Beckett was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet. He wrote both in English and French. His work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human nature, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour.Beckett is widely regarded as among the most...

, Jean Genet
Jean Genet
Jean Genet was a prominent and controversial French novelist, playwright, poet, essayist, and political activist. Early in his life he was a vagabond and petty criminal, but later took to writing...

, and Arthur Adamov
Arthur Adamov
Arthur Adamov was a playwright, one of the foremost exponents of the Theatre of the Absurd.Adamov was born in Kislovodsk in Russia to a wealthy Armenian family, which lost its wealth in 1917...

. Esslin called them "absurd" based on Albert Camus
Albert Camus
Albert Camus was a French author, journalist, and key philosopher of the 20th century. In 1949, Camus founded the Group for International Liaisons within the Revolutionary Union Movement, which was opposed to some tendencies of the Surrealist movement of André Breton.Camus was awarded the 1957...

' concept of the absurd, claiming that Beckett and Ionesco better captured the meaninglessness of existence in their plays than in work by Camus or Sartre. Because of this loose association, Ionesco is often mislabeled an existentialist. Ionesco claimed in Notes and Counter Notes that he was not an existentialist and often criticized existentialist figurehead Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Sartre
Jean-Paul Charles Aymard Sartre was a French existentialist philosopher, playwright, novelist, screenwriter, political activist, biographer, and literary critic. He was one of the leading figures in 20th century French philosophy, particularly Marxism, and was one of the key figures in literary...

. Although Ionesco knew Beckett and honored his work, the French group of playwrights was far from an organized movement.

Ionesco on the metaphysics of death in Through Parisian Eyes: Reflections on Contemporary French Arts and Culture by Melinda Camber Porter
Melinda Camber Porter
Melinda Camber Porter was an artist, author, poet, journalist and filmmaker. Porter was a modernist who worked in oils, watercolor and ink...

: "Death is our main problem and all others are less important. It is the wall and the limit. It is the only inescapable alienation; it gives us a sense of our limits. But the ignorance of ourselves and of others to which we are condemned is just as worrying. In the final analysis, we don't know what we're doing. Nevertheless, in all my work there is an element of hope and an appeal to others."

Ionesco claimed instead an affinity for ’Pataphysics
’Pataphysics
Pataphysics is a philosophy or pseudophilosophy dedicated to studying what lies beyond the realm of metaphysics. The term was coined and the concept created by French writer Alfred Jarry , who defined 'pataphysics as "the science of imaginary solutions, which symbolically attributes the properties...

 and its creator Alfred Jarry
Alfred Jarry
Alfred Jarry was a French writer born in Laval, Mayenne, France, not far from the border of Brittany; he was of Breton descent on his mother's side....

. He was also a great admirer of the Dadaists and Surrealists
Surrealism
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members....

, especially his fellow countryman Tristan Tzara
Tristan Tzara
Tristan Tzara was a Romanian and French avant-garde poet, essayist and performance artist. Also active as a journalist, playwright, literary and art critic, composer and film director, he was known best for being one of the founders and central figures of the anti-establishment Dada movement...

. Ionesco became friends with the founder of Surrealism
Surrealism
Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members....

, André Breton
André Breton
André Breton was a French writer and poet. He is known best as the founder of Surrealism. His writings include the first Surrealist Manifesto of 1924, in which he defined surrealism as "pure psychic automatism"....

, whom he revered. In Present Past, Past Present, Ionesco wrote, "Breton taught us to destroy the walls of the real that separate us from reality, to participate in being so as to live as if it were the first day of creation, a day that would every day be the first day of new creations." Raymond Queneau
Raymond Queneau
Raymond Queneau was a French poet and novelist and the co-founder of Ouvroir de littérature potentielle .-Biography:Born in Le Havre, Seine-Maritime, Queneau was the only child of Auguste Queneau and Joséphine Mignot...

, a former associate of Breton and a champion of Ionesco's work, was a member of the Collège de ’Pataphysique and a founder of Oulipo
Oulipo
Oulipo is a loose gathering of French-speaking writers and mathematicians which seeks to create works using constrained writing techniques. It was founded in 1960 by Raymond Queneau and François Le Lionnais...

, two groups with which Ionesco was associated.

Further reading

  • —. Fragments of a Journal. Trans. Jean Stewart. London: Faber and Faber, 1968.
  • —. Ionesco : Théâtre complet, Pléiade
    Bibliothèque de la Pléiade
    The Bibliothèque de la Pléiade is a French series of books which was created in the 1930s by Jacques Schiffrin, an independent young editor. . Schiffrin wanted to provide the public with reference editions of the complete works of classic authors in a pocket format...

     edition. ISBN 2070111989
  • —. Notes and Counter Notes: Writings on the Theatre. Trans. Donald Watson. New York: Grove Press, 1964.
  • —. Present Past, Past Present. Trans. Helen R. Lane. Da Capo Press, 1998, p. 149. ISBN 0306808358
  • Ionesco, Eugène. Conversations with Eugene Ionesco. Trans. Jan Dawson. New York: [Holt, Rinehart and Winston], 1966.
  • Calinescu, Matei. Ionesco, Recherches identitaires. Paris [Oxus Éditions], 2005. Romanian version under Eugène Ionesco: teme identitare si existentiale. Iasi [Junimea], 2006. ISBN (10)973-37-1176-4 & (13)978-973-37-1176-6
  • The New Oxford Companion to Literature in French. ISBN 0198661258
  • Who's Who in Jewish History, Routledge, London, 1995. ISBN 0415125839
  • Esslin, Martin
    Martin Esslin
    Martin Julius Esslin OBE was a Hungarian-born English producer and playwright dramatist, journalist, adaptor and translator, critic, academic scholar and professor of drama best known for coining the term "Theatre of the Absurd" in his work of that name...

    . The Theatre of the Absurd. Garden City, NY: Anchor Books, 1969.
  • Gaensbauer, Deborah B. Eugene Ionesco Revisited. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1996.
  • Hayman, Ronald. World Dramatists: Eugene Ionesco. New York: Frederick Unger, 1976.
  • Ionesco, Marie-France. Portrait de l'écrivain dans le siècle: Eugène Ionesco, 1909-1994. Paris: Gallimard, 2004. ISBN 2070748103
  • Lamon, Rosette C. Ionesco's Imperative: The Politics of Culture. University of Michigan Press, 1993. ISBN 0472103105
  • Lewis, Allan. Ionesco. New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1972.
  • Sebastian, Mihail
    Mihail Sebastian
    -Life:Sebastian was born to a Jewish family in Brăila. After finishing his secondary studies, Sebastian went on to study law in Bucharest, but was soon attracted to the literary life and the exciting ideas of the new generation of Romanian intellectuals, as epitomized by the literary group...

    . Journal: 1935-1944. London: Pimlico, 2003.
  • Wellwarth, George E. The Dream and the Play. Călinescu, Matei. O carte despre Cioran, Eliade, Ionesco. On Cioran, Eliade, Ionesco. In: Revista 22, no. 636, 2002. http://www.revista22.ro/html/index.php?art=100&nr=2002-05-20 Pavel, Laura
    Laura Pavel
    Laura Pavel is a Romanian essayist and literary critic.-Biography:Daughter of Dora Pavel, writer, and Eugen Pavel, linguist, scientific researcher. Married to the literary critic Călin Teutişan. She has a BA in Letters of the „Babeş-Bolyai” University in Cluj-Napoca, the Romanian-English section...

    . Ionesco. Anti-lumea unui sceptic (Ionesco: The Anti-World of a Skeptic). Piteşti: Paralela 45, 2002. ISBN 973-593-686-0

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