The loneliness of human existence becomes an overriding theme in literature and drama of the 20th century, especially due to the emergence of the European Avant-Garde movements, Sigmund Freud's theory of the subconscious, and the philosophy of Existentialism (Jean-Paul Sartre, Albert Camus) which focused on an individual in an alienated world devoid of meaning or purpose. Though written at the turn of the 20th century, Anton Chekhov's work has been a major influence on the formation of European and British drama in its treatment of the human condition and innovative dramatic techniques. All of his plays: The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, The Three Sisters, and The Cherry Orchard, are tales of human existence stripped of fulfillment and happiness.
The Chekhovian tradition of creating a deep subtext underneath a polyphonous, seemingly superficial dialog has had an impact on Harold Pinter (1930-2008) and on the work of Edward Bond (b.1935). In Pinter's plays, Chekhov's dramatic techniques are reinterpreted to convey the absurdity of human condition: Pinter creates a dialog which consists of monologues recited by estranged characters incapable of communication. He also makes use of the Chekhovian pause-his silences become more eloquent than spoken words.
Bond has acknowledged his interest in Chekhov and Chekhov's influence on his dramatic style. The most Chekhovian among Bond's plays is Summer (1982) but the loneliness of his characters and inability to fulfill their natural human needs become the leading motifs throughout his work. Bond's affinity to Chekhov is also obvious in his highly stylized vernacular, his love for ambiguity, pauses, and poetic detail.
Loretta Visomirskis, Harold Washington College, United States
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