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Many sources cite his birthdate as , this error being due to vanity on the part of Ionesco himself, who wanted the year of his birth to coincide with that when his idol, Romanian playwright Caragiale , died. As Deborah B. 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. He returned to Romania with his father and mother in after his parents divorced. There he attended Saint Sava National College , after which he studied French Literature at the University of Bucharest from to and qualified as a teacher of French. While there he met Emil Cioran and Mircea Eliade , and the three became lifelong friends.
In Ionesco married Rodica Burileanu. With his family, he returned to France in for him to complete his doctoral thesis. Caught by the outbreak of World War II in , 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 , where he remained during the rest of the war, living in Marseilles before moving with his family to Paris after its liberation.
Literary career[ edit ] Writing in Romania[ edit ] Though best known as a playwright, plays were not his first chosen medium. He started writing poetry and criticism, publishing in several Romanian journals. Origins of his first play[ edit ] Like Samuel Beckett , Ionesco began his theatre career late; he did not write his first play until La Cantatrice chauve , first performed in with the English title The Bald Soprano.
At the age of 40, he decided to learn English using the Assimil 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.
Smith informed him 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, Ionesco thought, was her eminently methodical procedure in her quest for truth. Ionesco set about translating this experience into a play, La Cantatrice Chauve, which was performed for the first time in 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 and Raymond Queneau , championed the play. He disregards psychology and coherent dialogue, thereby depicting a dehumanized world with mechanical, puppet-like characters who speak in non-sequiturs. Language becomes rarefied, with words and material objects gaining a life of their own, increasingly overwhelming the characters and creating a sense of menace.
In The Killer he encounters death in the figure of a serial killer. It is in this play that Ionesco most forcefully expresses his horror of ideological conformism, inspired by the rise of the fascist Iron Guard in Romania in the s. Ionesco also wrote his only novel, The Hermit , during this later period.
It was first published in Apart from the libretto for the opera Maximilien Kolbe music by Dominique Probst which has been performed in five countries, produced for television and recorded for release on CD, Ionesco did not write for the stage after Voyage chez les morts in It holds the world record for the play that has been staged continuously in the same theatre for the longest time.
Ionesco wrote mainly in attempts to correct critics whom 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, 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, 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, He claimed that "drama that relies on simple effects is not necessarily drama simplified" Ionesco, Literary context[ edit ] Ionesco is often considered a writer of the Theatre of the Absurd , a label originally given to him by Martin Esslin in his book of the same name.
In his view, Beckett and Ionesco better captured the meaninglessness of existence in their plays than works 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. Although Ionesco knew Beckett and honored his work, the French group of playwrights was far from an organized movement. 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. Nevertheless, in all my work there is an element of hope and an appeal to others. He was also a great admirer of the Dadaists and Surrealists , especially his fellow countryman Tristan Tzara. 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.
In he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Many sources cite his birthdate as , this error being due to vanity on the part of Ionesco himself, who wanted the year of his birth to coincide with that when his idol, Romanian playwright Caragiale , died. As Deborah B. 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. He returned to Romania with his father and mother in after his parents divorced. There he attended Saint Sava National College , after which he studied French Literature at the University of Bucharest from to and qualified as a teacher of French. While there he met Emil Cioran and Mircea Eliade , and the three became lifelong friends.
The Bald Soprano
Ionesco was taken to France as an infant but returned to Romania in After obtaining a degree in French at the University of Bucharest, he worked for a doctorate in Paris , where, after , he made his home. While working as a proofreader, he decided to learn English; the formal, stilted commonplaces of his textbook inspired the masterly catalog of senseless platitudes that constitutes The Bald Soprano. In The Lesson, a timid professor uses the meaning he assigns to words to establish tyrannical dominance over an eager female pupil. Feeling confident that his message will be conveyed by an orator he has hired, the old man and his wife commit a double suicide. The orator turns out to be afflicted with aphasia, however, and can speak only gibberish.
Origin[ edit ] The idea for the play came to Ionesco while he was trying to learn English with the Assimil method. The two families engage in meaningless banter, telling stories and relating nonsensical poems. At one point, Mrs. Martin converses with her husband as if he were a stranger she just met. As the fire chief turns to leave, he mentions "the bald soprano" in passing, which has a very unsettling effect on the others.