Tuesday, 16 October 2001

Eugène Ionesco: The Lesson (1954)

Translation: Donald Watson, 1958
Edition: Penguin, 1962
Review number: 960

This is the only Ionesco play I have seen, and it is very funny on the stage. It describes a visit by a pupil to the house of someone who can only be described as a mad professor, who teaches her bizarre mathematics and ludicrous linguistics before attacking her with a knife.

The mathematical jokes are similar to those involving the Logician in Rhinoceros, and The Lesson reads like a preparatory excercise for the later play, a less surreal version of that play's lighter moments.

The Lesson is lighter than the other plays in this collection, and so unlike them it doesn't particularly seem to need to be supplied with a meaning.

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