Article Title

Jean Anouilh and Eugene O'Neill: Repetition as Negativity


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

Ultimately it is repetition that destroys the characters of Jean Anouilh. Mask and ritual are merely the accessories of a force of displacement as tragic as it is inexorable. Its names are various: society, religion, language. It is a movement never sensed as liberating, never affirmed, and its discovery is the single peripeteia of Anouilh's drama. The self comes to be seen as doubled, exported beyond itself, dispersed; the moment- Orpheus and Eurydice's, for example-is found to be itself a repetition that will be repeated by yet other moments, with a resultant hollowing out and draining away of apparent presence. Self and moment are always "contaminated" by the trace of the others, other times, and other selves: the present is the lovers' hotel room shot through with the comings and goings of others, who inevitably mark it. This face of repetition is that of "life going out of itself beyond return. Death rehearsal .... The irreducible excess ... of any self-intimacy of the living, the good, the true."1 Repetition is the true antagonist of Anouilh's world, and it is insuperable.

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