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Quelques méthodes de résolution des problèmes aux limites by Lions, Jacques-Louis

By Lions, Jacques-Louis

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During that same period, Henry Bataille reversed the dominant trend by moving from a broadly Symbolist æsthetic toward greater psychological realism, while Edmond Rostand seems to be a Romantic dramatist lost in the wrong decade. Throughout the latter part of the 19th century the dominant figure—by a distance—on the French theatrical scene was one who more than any other defies compartmentalization: Sarah Bernhardt, whose repertoire ranged from the classical (Phèdre and Le Cid) through the Romantic (Ruy Blas, Lorenzaccio and Hamlet) to both of the contemporary strands (Rostand on the one hand, Sardou on the other).

Also referred to as theater of derision and as anti-theater, it emphasized either a philosophical stance that explores the meaninglessness of existence (see CAMUS, ALBERT) or a total resistance to the idea that theater can expound meaning or reflect reality. It had roots in Alfred Jarry and Surrealist theater and was influenced by the complex theatricality of Luigi Pirandello (1867–1936). In France its seminal works were Ionesco, La Cantatrice chauve (The Bald Prima Donna, 1950), and Beckett, En Attendant Godot (Waiting for Godot, first directed by Roger Blin in 1953), which explore the inadequacy of language for human communication.

Eroticism, mysticism and dream combine to produce a brutal theatricality of joyful subversion. His work is haunted by his reaction to the dictatorship of Spain (1939–1975) under Francisco Franco (1892–1975): ecclesiastical corruption, military oppression and social misery are all challenged by heartless derision. Like Absurd Theater, his output combines farce with tragedy, fantasy and caricature with pitiless realism, vulgarity with poetry. He himself used the term “panique” to convey both the Dionysian tone and the cruel content of his theater.

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