The Memorandum Essay

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In the following excerpt, Carey places Havel's drama in three major phases: "The early absurdist comedies; the Vanek morality plays; and the psychological-prison plays."

If the language games of The Garden Party relativize the human out of the equation, the use of a synthetic language Ptydepe enables Havel in The Memorandum (1965), winner of the Obie Award (1967-68) for best foreign play, to focus on the process by which humans abdicate their humanity to linguistic and/or political systems.

Josef Gross, the Managing Director of an anonymous bureaucracy, receives a memorandum in Ptydepe, an artificial language designed to make human communication scientifically precise by making words as dissimilar as possible. In his attempts to get the memo translated, Gross experiences the paradoxes of bureaucracy: he can obtain the documents he needs to authorize the translation only by having the memorandum already translated. While he struggles with the irrationality of...

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This section contains 772 words
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Drama for Students
The Memorandum from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.