Absurdist Existentialism In City Of Cities

1424 Words6 Pages
“Brennt Paris?” Allegedly, this is the question Adolf Hitler asked German general Dietrich von Choltitz on the eve of the surrender of the city to the Allies. Translated to English, Hitler asked the general “Is Paris Burning?” The fuhrer wished to destroy Paris, generally considered the most beautiful city in the Western world, so that even if he could not control the city, no one else could either. Fortunately, swayed by the beauty of the city, among other factors, Choltitz refused, preserving the charm, culture, and history of Paris to inspire others for posterity. The fact that Paris survived the war relatively untouched allowed for a mass influx of writers, painters, and thinkers from around the world, especially as so many other major cities across Western Europe were destroyed or heavily damaged following the Second World War. One such writer who found his way to the postwar City of Lights was Irish playwright and novelist Samuel Beckett. He was not alone, however. Others such as Ernest Hemingway, Albert Camus, and Jean Paul Sartre also lived in Paris around the same time, and whether or not Beckett spent his time at Les Deux Magots with them conversing about writing and philosophy, the effect they, and the city around them, had on Beckett is indelible. Nowhere is this more visible than in Beckett’s play Waiting for Godot, where the absurdist existentialism that permeated the writings of many other Parisian expatriates is at the forefront. Albert Camus, French philosopher and writer, and with whom Beckett kept correspondence, is perhaps best well known for his works The Myth of Sisyphus and The Stranger. Both are representations of his personal philosophy of absurdism, a philosophy which can be seen throughout Waiting for Godot. In The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus retells the famed Greek myth, where the protagonist, Sisyphus, is fated to roll a stone up a hill for eternity, only for the stone to roll back down just as it approached the top every time. At first glance such a situation would seem to indicate that Camus is a nihilist, as there is no meaning in Sisyphus’s life, other than to futilely roll the boulder. Incredibly, however, Sisyphus does not yield either to the boulder or to reason, as he

More about Absurdist Existentialism In City Of Cities

Open Document