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Modern Literature and the Tragic$
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K. M. Newton

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780748636730

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748636730.001.0001

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The Theatre of the Absurd and the Tragic

The Theatre of the Absurd and the Tragic

(p.144) Chapter 7 The Theatre of the Absurd and the Tragic
Modern Literature and the Tragic

K. M. Newton

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter reviews the relation between the ‘Theatre of the Absurd’ and the tragic and argues that though Samuel Beckett's drama can't be pinned down as being either tragic or anti-tragic, Harold Pinter's The Caretaker has a strong claim to be a major modern tragedy. Beckett is without doubt the major figure associated with the ‘Theatre of the Absurd’. Waiting for Godot might be said to go beyond the tragic, at least in any conventional sense, and to deny the audience anything resembling catastrophe or catharsis as that would provide an inauthentic emotional consolation. It is possible that Pinter in The Caretaker is presenting a kind of counter-argument to the view that human beings are always free to overcome their past selves and create themselves anew.

Keywords:   tragic, Theatre of the Absurd, Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter, The Caretaker, Waiting for Godot

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