Friday, November 12, 2021

Compare and Contrast Bicycle Thieves With The Overcoat, The Trial, Waiting For Godot, Dead Souls and The Nose

Remember Gogol’s “The Overcoat’ (1842)? A civil servant, Akaky Akakievich, spends his last cent on the item of the title, only to have it stolen almost immediately. He knocks on doors with no luck and then dies. Gogol was involved in the notion of loss. “The Nose” (1836), which was made into an opera by William Kentridge, centers around an assessor, Major Kovalyov, who discovers his olfactory appendage has disappeared into a loaf of bread. Of course the apotheosis of this idea is Dead Souls (1842), where Gogol’s hero Chichikov comes up with a plan by which he can profit from someone else’s loss. In the canon of neorealism, De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves (1948) is an indelible depiction of the poverty of post-war Rome. However, is the plot in which the snatching of a bike in an instant has an enormous impact on a father and son, two forlorn characters who helplessly seek to find one missing possession amidst a plethora of similar objects which propagate exponentially like a devouring creature, taken from the original Gogol story? Both the Russian writer and the Italian director create a vision of powerless human beings facing an impregnable bureaucracy also similar to that depicted by Kafka in The Trial (1915). Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (1949) is titled En Attendant Godot, “while waiting for Godot” in French. The real subject is the cosmic indifference of the universe, a.k.a the cosmic yawn in which the odds are against puny man whose prayers are rarely if ever heard.

Read "Separated at Birth: Keith Richards and Samuel Beckett" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and listen to "Brown Sugar" by The Rolling Stones

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