Waiting for Godot

Making the Connection: Symbolist Poetry and the Theatre of the Absurd

GUILDENSTERN: All your life you live so close to truth, it becomes a permanent blur in the corner of your eye, and when something nudges it into outline it is like being ambushed by a grotesque. ~ Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Tom Stoppard,(Pg. 39)

Paul Valery's Asides is a poem about the loss of faith, desire, knowledge, communication, and the ability to comprehend the world and one's place in it. The narrator displays a haunting acceptance of his uncertain fate as he freefalls into unknown places. Thematically, Asides bares a striking resemblance to the Theatre of the Absurd, a theatrical movement that emerged primarily in the fifties and sixties. The futility of contemporary life, death, the breakdown of language, and the protagonists' failure to understand their place in the universe are principal themes in Absurdist drama. Perhaps Paul Valery's poetry was a prelude to the Absurdist movement.

The idea of man perceiving life as an incomprehensible game and being struck by the realization of his inability to forge a meaningful existence is the dominant theme in both Asides and Absurdist drama. Throughout Asides, the narrator conveys a sense of dreary hopelessness. He has abandoned faith in himself,...

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