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Eugene Ionesco (1909 – 1994)


Born Eugen Ionescu, was a French-Romanian playwright and dramatist, one of the foremost playwrights of Theatre of the Absurd.
Eugene Ionesco
I remember one day there was a military parade. A lieutenant was marching in front of the palace guards. I can still see him carrying the flag. I was standing beside a peasant with a big fur hat who was watching the parade, absolutely wide-eyed. Suddenly the lieutenant broke rank, rushed toward us, and slapped the peasant, saying, “Take off your hat when you see the flag!” I was horrified. My thoughts were not yet organized or coherent at that age, but I had feelings, a certain nascent humanism, and I found these things inadmissible. The worst thing of all, for an adolescent, was to be different from everyone else. Could I be right and the whole country wrong?
Ionesco quotes
I am not capitulating.
Ionesco
Beckett shows death; his people are in dustbins or waiting for God. (Beckett will be cross with me for mentioning God, but never mind.) Similarly, in my play The New Tenant, there is no speech, or rather, the speeches are given to the Janitor. The Tenant just suffocates beneath proliferating furniture and objects — which is a symbol of death. There were no longer words being spoken, but images being visualized. We achieved it above all by the dislocation of language. … Beckett destroys language with silence. I do it with too much language, with characters talking at random, and by inventing words.




Ionesco Eugene quotes
Logician: A cat has four paws.
Old Gentleman: My dog had four paws.
Logician: Then it's a cat.
Old Gentleman: So my dog is a cat?
Logician: And the contrary is also true.
Ionesco Eugene
I am told, in a dream ... you can only get the answer to all your questions through a dream. So in my dream, I fall asleep, and I dream, in my dream, that I'm having that absolute, revealing dream.
Eugene Ionesco quotes
I believe that what separates us all from one another is simply society itself, or, if you like, politics. This is what raises barriers between men, this is what creates misunderstanding.
If I may be allowed to express myself paradoxically, I should say that the truest society, the authentic human community, is extra-social — a wider, deeper society, that which is revealed by our common anxieties, our desires, our secret nostalgias. The whole history of the world has been governed by nostalgias and anxieties, which political action does no more than reflect and interpret, very imperfectly. No society has been able to abolish human sadness, no political system can deliver us from the pain of living, from our fear of death, our thirst for the absolute. It is the human condition that directs the social condition, not vice versa.
Eugene Ionesco
We exist on several different planes, and when we said nothing had any reason we were referring to the psychological and social plane.
Ionesco Eugene quotes
Most people readily exchange their nightly dreams for what passes as reality in the morning papers. Not Eugéne Ionesco. The celebrated playwright of the absurd prefers to dwell on his own private late late shows.
Ionesco
Oh words, what crimes are committed in your name!
Ionesco Eugene
You can stay in society and be alone, as long as you can be detached from the world. This is why I don’t think I have ever gone for the easy option or done things that were expected of me.
Eugene Ionesco
I found ancestors, like Shakespeare, who said, in Macbeth, that the world is full of sound and fury, a tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing. Macbeth is a victim of fate. So is Oedipus. But what happens to them is not absurd in the eyes of destiny, because destiny, or fate, has its own norms, its own morality, its own laws, which cannot be flouted with impunity. Oedipus sleeps with his Mummy, kills his Daddy, and breaks the laws of fate. He must pay for it by suffering. It is tragic and absurd, but at the same time it’s reassuring and comforting, since the idea is that if we don’t break destiny’s laws, we should be all right. Not so with our characters. They have no metaphysics, no order, no law. They are miserable and they don’t know why. They are puppets, undone. In short, they represent modern man. Their situation is not tragic, since it has no relation to a higher order. Instead, it’s ridiculous, laughable, and derisory.




Eugene Ionesco quotes
It's not a certain society that seems ridiculous to me, it's mankind.
Eugene Ionesco
But History was against me. History is right, objectively speaking. I'm just a historical dead end. I hope at least that my fate will serve as an example to you all and to posterity.
Ionesco quotes
People always try to find base motives behind every good action. We are afraid of pure goodness and of pure evil.
Ionesco Eugene
The Pataphysique is not dead. It lives on in the minds of certain men, even if they are not aware of it. It has gone into “occultation,” as we say, and will come back again one day.
Ionesco Eugene quotes
I let characters and symbols emerge from me, as if I were dreaming. I always use what remains of my dreams of the night before. Dreams are reality at its most profound, and what you invent is truth because invention, by its nature, can’t be a lie. Writers who try to prove something are unattractive to me, because there is nothing to prove and everything to imagine. So I let words and images emerge from within. If you do that, you might prove something in the process.
Eugene Ionesco
Everything that has been will be, everything that will be is, everything that will be has been.
Eugene Ionesco quotes
It was quite fashionable to poke fun at Hugo. You remember Gide’s “Victor Hugo is the greatest French poet, alas!” or Cocteau’s “Victor Hugo was a madman who thought he was Victor Hugo.” Anyway, I hated rhetoric and eloquence. I agreed with Verlaine, who said, “You have to get hold of eloquence and twist its neck off!” Nonetheless, it took some courage. Nowadays it is common to debunk great men, but it wasn’t then.
Eugene Ionesco
Over the past thirty years, Ionesco has been called a “tragic clown,” the “Shakespeare of the Absurd,” the “Enfant Terrible of the Avant-Garde,” and the “Inventor of the Metaphysical Farce” — epithets that point to his evolution from a young playwright at a tiny Left Bank theater to an esteemed member of the Académie Française.
Ionesco Eugene
We are all Victims of Duty.


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