Obituary: Eugene Ionesco
It was an altercation with certain British critics, notably Kenneth Tynan in the Observer, who berated Ionesco for his lack of 'message', meaning primarily political message, at any rate of the correct kind. This is recounted in his first book of memoirs, Notes et Contre-Notes (1962): and I more than once heard him on the subject. Indeed, when I left Paris to return to the Foreign Office, he gave me a set of his plays inscribed 'a M. Cullis, avec mon amitie pour lui, et pour toute l'Angleterre - exception l'Observer.'
It may be worth recording that his initial work, the 'anti-play' La Cantatrice Chauve has run for over 40 years (Paris's answer to The Mousetrap) at the little Theatre de la Huchette. Usually the place was packed, with people sitting on the floor. But on one occasion I and some friends were the sole audience - and were afterwards applauded by the actors on stage. There has been, incidentally, a treasured LP recording of the complete play, by the original cast under Nicolas Bataille, and with a companion volume strikingly illustrated to match the text. There is also a cassette of his playlet Le Leader, with music by Germaine Tailleferre (the female member of Les Six): a political enough 'message' one might have thought with its punch-line, in answer to a child who exclaims, Hans Andersen-wise, 'But the Leader has no head.' 'What does it matter, he has Genius.'
So in my view, however idiosyncratically, did our friend Eugene.
From the blogs
David Prior's very personal reason for thinkg that investigators need appropriate expertise
Dozens of empty homes in two of Liverpool’s most deprived areas will be brought back into use thanks...
As a reluctant vegetarian (so reluctant that I'm not vegetarian at all) and a reluctant risotto eate...
Time for the monthly treat from David Hayes, who writes about British politics for the Australian In...
Serena Williams apologises after comment that rape victim 'shouldn't have put herself in that position'
Bankers could face jail after report urges the Government to introduce new criminal offence for reckless management
Feat of engineering: Incredible photographs show construction beneath New York's Second Avenue
World news in pictures
Google challenges US surveillance gagging order
- 1 Serena Williams apologises after comment that rape victim 'shouldn't have put herself in that position'
- 2 Disability campaigners celebrate 'victory' after government rethink over plans to make it more difficult to claim disability benefits
- 3 Bankers could face jail after report urges the Government to introduce new criminal offence for reckless management
- 4 Breaking the Silence: In the reality of occupation, there are no Palestinian civilians – only potential terrorists
- 5 We never knew Nigella Lawson - and we still don’t