Arthur Adamov

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Arthur Adamov
Arthur Adamov.jpg
BornAdamian Adamov
(1908-08-23)August 23, 1908
Kislovodsk, Terek Oblast, Russian Empire
DiedMarch 15, 1970(1970-03-15) (aged 61)
Paris, France
Literary movementTheatre of the Absurd

Arthur Adamov (23 August 1908 – 15 March 1970) was a playwright, one of the foremost exponents of the Theatre of the Absurd.[1][2]


Adamov (originally Adamian) was born in Kislovodsk in the Terek Oblast of the Russian Empire to a wealthy Armenian family,[3] which lost its wealth in 1917. In common with many other wealthy Russians of the time, Adamov was brought up with French as his first language, and in 1924 he moved to Paris.

In Paris Adamov met surrealists and edited the surrealist journal Discontinuité. He began to write plays after World War II, with La Parodie (1947) being his first. His work, influenced by Bertolt Brecht, is often dream-like and later works in particular have a political element. The title character of one of his best known works, Le Professeur Taranne (1953), is accused of various things (public nudity, littering, plagiarism), all of which he strenuously denies, only to have his denials turned against him into more evidence of misdemeanours. This particular play was directly influenced by a dream Adamov had. Lesser known to the public is his prose work with short stories like Fin Août (in Je... Ils..., 1969). Their themes revolve around topics like masochism, which the author regarded as "immunisation against death". Adamov translated a number of works by German authors (Rilke, Büchner) and Russian classics (Gogol, Chekhov) into French.

The Algerian war radicalised his political views and in the 1960s he became a Communist.[4]

During his later years, he began to drink and use drugs.[5]

Adamov's death in 1970 was due to an overdose of barbiturates.[6]

Selected plays[edit]

  • L'Aveu (The Confession, 1946)
  • La Parodie (The Parody, 1950)
  • L'Invasion (The Invasion, 1950)
  • La Grande et la Petite Manoeuvre (The Grand and Small Manoeuvre, 1950)
  • Le Sens de la Marche (The Way to Go, 1953)
  • Tous contre tous (All against all, 1953)
  • Le Professeur Taranne (Professor Taranne, 1953)
  • Le Ping-Pong (Ping Pong, 1955)
  • Paolo Paoli (1957)
  • Le Printemps '71 (Spring '71, 1960)
  • La Politique des Restes (The Politics of Rubbish, 1963)
  • Ici et Maintenant (Here and Now, 1964)
  • Sainte Europe (Holy Europe, 1966)
  • M. le Modéré (Mr. Moderate, 1968)
  • Off Limits (1969)
  • Si l'été revenait (If Summer Came Again, 1970)


  1. ^ "Arthur Adamov: Encyclopædia Britannica". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  2. ^ Keith Reader (2006). The Abject Object: Avatars of the Phallus in Contemporary French Theory, Literature and Film. Rodopi  – via Questia (subscription required). p. 81.
  3. ^ "Absurdism". Archived from the original on 8 March 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2015.
  4. ^ "Arthur Adamov". Oberon Books. Retrieved 12 April 2020.
  5. ^ Albee, Edward, The American Dream, Coward, 1961.
  6. ^ Banarjee, R. B., "The Theatre of the Absurd," in Literary Criterion, Vol. 7, No. 1, 1965, pp. 59-62.