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From Realism To Sur-Realism: Poetics Of The Absurd And The Grotesque

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Chapter Summary

Gao Xingjian's affinity with the work of French dramatists of the theatre of the absurd is quite strong and amounts to more than a few superficial similarities; it is based on an in-depth knowledge of the aesthetics of the theatre of the absurd. Authors of the theatre of the absurd in the West and in the East are united in their awareness that the environment with its diverse, incidental and inexplicable character cannot be perceived and systematized through rational reasoning. Gao Xingjian disarms the absurd and terror in many ways: by exposing schematic thinking, destroying language clichés, using humor, irony and slapstick gags, discovering poetic atmosphere where it is least expected, and disclosing humans as ridiculous, helpless and cruel. The grotesque is nothing other than a combination of these elements. It surfaces whenever atrocities are treated in a comical way and it turns the demonic into the trivial.

Keywords: Gao Xingjian; grotesque; realism; theatre of the absurd

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