Eugéne Ionesco1describes the absurd as follows: “Absurd is something that has no aim […] When man is cut off from his religious, metaphysical and transcendental roots, he is … Man returns to hi… The Theatre of the Absurd is a post–World War II designation for particular plays of absurdist fiction written by a number of primarily European playwrights in the late 1950s. "Beckett Out of His Mind: The Theatre of the Absurd". Following the atrocities of World War Two, to some the world itself had become absurd: a frightening and illogical place in which life had lost all meaning and human existence seemed futile. General Overviews.  When language that is apparently nonsensical appears, it also demonstrates this disconnection. In England some of those whom Esslin considered practitioners of the Theatre of the Absurd include Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard, N. F. Simpson, James Saunders, and David Campton; in the United States, Edward Albee, Sam Shepard, Jack Gelber, and John Guare; in Poland, Tadeusz Różewicz, Sławomir Mrożek, and Tadeusz Kantor; in Italy, Dino Buzzati; and in Germany, Peter Weiss, Wolfgang Hildesheimer, and Günter Grass. We can bring it forth as a frightening moment, as an abyss that opens suddenly; indeed, many of Shakespeare's tragedies are already really comedies out of which the tragic arises. theater of the absurd. PLAY. Terms in this set (30) What is the theatre of Absurd?  In later Pinter plays, such as The Caretaker and The Homecoming, the menace is no longer entering from the outside but exists within the confined space. Esslin says that their plays have a common denominator — the "absurd", a word that Esslin defines with a quotation from Ionesco: "absurd is that which has not purpose, or goal, or objective. Theater of the Absurd refers to a literary movement in drama popular throughout European countries from the 1940s to … Ionesco replied, "I have the feeling that these writers – who are serious and important – were talking about absurdity and death, but that they never really lived these themes, that they did not feel them within themselves in an almost irrational, visceral way, that all this was not deeply inscribed in their language. The plays focus largely on ideas of existentialismand express what happens when human existence lacks meaning or purpose and communication breaks down. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. (Keaton even starred in Beckett's Film in 1965. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students.  Artaud was a Surrealist, and many other members of the Surrealist group were significant influences on the Absurdists. Although they did not consider themselves as belonging to a formal movement, they shared a belief that human life was essentially without meaning…, In their highly individual ways, both Samuel Beckett and Ionesco employed the forms of comedy—from tragicomedy to farce—to convey the vision of an exhausted civilization and a chaotic world.  As the influence of the Absurdists grew, the style spread to other countries—with playwrights either directly influenced by Absurdists in Paris or playwrights labelled Absurdist by critics. Gaetana Marrone, Paolo Puppa, Luca Somigli. Theatre of the Absurd, dramatic works of certain European and American dramatists of the 1950s and early ’60s who agreed with the Existentialist philosopher Albert Camus’s assessment, in his essay “The Myth of Sisyphus” (1942), that the human situation is essentially absurd, devoid of purpose. Gravity. It is a challenge to accept the human condition as it is, in all its mystery and absurdity, and to bear it with dignity, nobly, responsibly; precisely because there are no easy solutions to the mysteries of existence, because ultimately man is alone in a meaningless world. In fact, many of them were labelled as “anti-plays.” In an attempt to clarify and define this radical movement, Martin Esslin coined the term “The Theatre of the Absurd” in his 1960 book of the same name. Get a Britannica Premium subscription and gain access to exclusive content. The shedding of easy solutions, of comforting illusions, may be painful, but it leaves behind it a sense of freedom and relief. The moments when characters resort to nonsense language or clichés—when words appear to have lost their denotative function, thus creating misunderstanding among the characters—make the Theatre of the Absurd distinctive.  They have difficulty explaining what has frightened them: Absence, emptiness, nothingness, and unresolved mysteries are central features in many Absurdist plots: for example, in The Chairs, an old couple welcomes a large number of guests to their home, but these guests are invisible, so all we see are empty chairs, a representation of their absence. The characters in Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano (1950) sit and talk, repeating the obvious until it sounds like nonsense, thus revealing the inadequacies of verbal communication. American Heritage® Dictionary of the … Omissions?  Often there is a menacing outside force that remains a mystery; in The Birthday Party, for example, Goldberg and McCann confront Stanley, torture him with absurd questions, and drag him off at the end, but it is never revealed why. The term is derived from an essay by the French philosopher Albert Camus. By choosing to act, man passes into the arena of human responsibility which makes him the creator of his own existence. Theatre of the absurd January 9, 2021, 9:50 AM IST BS Anilkumar in Tracking Indian Communities , Malayalam , Roots & Wings , TOI Facebook Twitter Linkedin Email  Similarly, Esslin cites early film comedians and music hall artists such as Charlie Chaplin, the Keystone Cops and Buster Keaton as direct influences. Absurd elements first appeared in the theatre of ancient Greece, in the wild humour and buffoonery of Old Comedy and the plays of Aristophanes in particular.  Likewise, the action of Godot is centered around the absence of a man named Godot, for whom the characters perpetually wait. What global events perpetuated the feelings and beliefs associated with existentialism?  In a 1966 interview, Claude Bonnefoy, comparing the Absurdists to Sartre and Camus, said to Ionesco, "It seems to me that Beckett, Adamov and yourself started out less from philosophical reflections or a return to classical sources, than from first-hand experience and a desire to find a new theatrical expression that would enable you to render this experience in all its acuteness and also its immediacy. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. , Absurdism is also frequently compared to Surrealism's predecessor, Dadaism (for example, the Dadaist plays by Tristan Tzara performed at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zürich). However, the existence inevitably ends with death. In the first edition of The Theatre of the Absurd, Esslin quotes the French philosopher Albert Camus' essay "Myth of Sisyphus", as it uses the word “absurdity” to describe the human situation: Esslin presents the four defining playwrights of the movement as Samuel Beckett, Arthur Adamov, Eugène Ionesco, and Jean Genet, and in subsequent editions he added a fifth playwright, Harold Pinter. According to W. B. Worthen, Six Characters and other Pirandello plays use "Metatheatre—roleplaying, plays-within-plays, and a flexible sense of the limits of stage and illusion—to examine a highly-theatricalized vision of identity".  The theme of incomprehensibility is coupled with the inadequacy of language to form meaningful human connections. At least we could learn why, but no, we learn not even that. Ring in the new year with a Britannica Membership, This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/art/Theatre-of-the-Absurd, Theater of the absurd - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up).  Harold Pinter—famous for his "Pinter pause"—presents more subtly elliptical dialogue; often the primary things characters should address are replaced by ellipsis or dashes. Absurdist theatre responded to the destruction and anxieties of the 20th century by questioning the nature of reality and illusion. The focal point of these dreams is often man's fundamental bewilderment and confusion, stemming from the fact that he has no answers to the basic existential questions: why we are alive, why we have to die, why there is injustice and suffering. Annette J. Saddik. Theater of the Absurd is often called a reaction to the realism movement in the theater.  As Nell says in Endgame, "Nothing is funnier than unhappiness … it's the most comical thing in the world". ", Though layered with a significant amount of tragedy, the Theatre of the Absurd echoes other great forms of comedic performance, according to Esslin, from Commedia dell'arte to vaudeville. In Beckett’s Waiting for Godot (1952), plot is eliminated, and a timeless, circular quality emerges as two lost creatures, usually played as tramps, spend their days waiting—but without any certainty of whom they are waiting for or of whether he, or it, will ever come. This 1975 dramatization of Eugène Ionesco's one-act play. It aims to shock its audience out of complacency, to bring it face to face with the harsh facts of the human situation as these writers see it.  Many of Beckett's plays devalue language for the sake of the striking tableau.  Esslin cites William Shakespeare as an influence on this aspect of the "Absurd drama. Kundrezensionen und Sterne. Originally shocking in its flouting of theatrical convention while popular for its apt expression of the preoccupations of the mid-20th century, the Theatre of the Absurd declined somewhat by the mid-1960s; some of its innovations had been absorbed into the mainstream of theatre even while serving to inspire further experiments. . , Another influential playwright was Guillaume Apollinaire whose The Breasts of Tiresias was the first work to be called "surreal". ), As an experimental form of theatre, many Theatre of the Absurd playwrights employ techniques borrowed from earlier innovators. , Artaud's "The Theatre of Cruelty" (presented in The Theatre and Its Double) was a particularly important philosophical treatise. , The characters in Absurdist drama are lost and floating in an incomprehensible universe and they abandon rational devices and discursive thought because these approaches are inadequate. Haney, W.S., II. The tragic and the comic are intertwined, black humor is central to the mockery and ridicule. For example, in Ionesco's Amédée, or How to Get Rid of It, a couple must deal with a corpse that is steadily growing larger and larger; Ionesco never fully reveals the identity of the corpse, how this person died, or why it's continually growing, but the corpse ultimately – and, again, without explanation – floats away. : theater that seeks to represent the absurdity of human existence in a meaningless universe by bizarre or fantastic means. , Plays within this group are absurd in that they focus not on logical acts, realistic occurrences, or traditional character development; they, instead, focus on human beings trapped in an incomprehensible world subject to any occurrence, no matter how illogical. Absurdist playwrights, therefore, did away with most of the logical structures of traditional theatre. Theater of the Absurd: Definition and Background. , Like Pirandello, many Absurdists use meta-theatrical techniques to explore role fulfillment, fate, and the theatricality of theatre. Theatre of the Absurd für iPad, iPhone, Android & PC! " Shakespeare's influence is acknowledged directly in the titles of Ionesco's Macbett and Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. Other international Absurdist playwrights include Tawfiq el-Hakim from Egypt; Hanoch Levin from Israel; Miguel Mihura from Spain; José de Almada Negreiros from Portugal; Mikhail Volokhov from Russia; Yordan Radichkov from Bulgaria; and playwright and former Czech President Václav Havel. And that is why, in the last resort, the Theatre of the Absurd does not provoke tears of despair but the laughter of liberation. Adamov, Jacqueline, "Censure et représentation dans le théâtre d’Arthur Adamov", in P. Vernois (Textes recueillis et présentés par). He resists because he is there". Rather than try to conform as closely as possible to a concept of real life, absurdists sought to provide an unmistakably unreal experience.  Ionesco accused Sartre of supporting Communism but ignoring the atrocities committed by Communists; he wrote Rhinoceros as a criticism of blind conformity, whether it be to Nazism or Communism; at the end of the play, one man remains on Earth resisting transformation into a rhinoceros Sartre criticized Rhinoceros by questioning: "Why is there one man who resists?  The Absurd in these plays takes the form of man's reaction to a world apparently without meaning, or man as a puppet controlled or menaced by invisible outside forces.  Likewise, the characters in The Bald Soprano—like many other Absurdist characters—go through routine dialogue full of clichés without actually communicating anything substantive or making a human connection. When first performed, these plays shocked their audiences as they were startlingly different than anything that had been previously staged.  In Jean Tardieu's "The Keyhole" a lover watches a woman through a keyhole as she removes her clothes and then her flesh. Ed.  Jean Tardieu, for example, in the series of short pieces Theatre de Chambre arranged the language as one arranges music. Existentialism refers to a particular view of the nature of mans existence.  Distinctively Absurdist language ranges from meaningless clichés to vaudeville-style word play to meaningless nonsense. We can achieve the tragic out of comedy. 20th century, History and… " Beckett's own relationship with Sartre was complicated by a mistake made in the publication of one of his stories in Sartre's journal Les Temps Modernes. With them it was still rhetoric, eloquence.  Language frequently gains a certain phonetic, rhythmical, almost musical quality, opening up a wide range of often comedic playfulness. , The "Absurd" or "New Theater" movement was originally a Paris-based (and a Rive Gauche) avant-garde phenomenon tied to extremely small theaters in the Quartier Latin. The ridiculous, purposeless behaviour and talk give the plays a sometimes dazzling comic surface, but there is an underlying serious message of metaphysical distress. Esslin, Martin - The Theatre of the Absurd jetzt kaufen.  In Ionesco's The Lesson, a professor tries to force a pupil to understand his nonsensical philology lesson: Traditional plot structures are rarely a consideration in The Theatre of the Absurd. n. A form of drama that emphasizes the absurdity of human existence by employing disjointed, repetitious, and meaningless dialogue, purposeless and confusing situations, and plots that lack realistic or logical development. 'The Theatre of the Absurd' is a term coined by the critic Martin Esslin for the work of a number of playwrights, mostly written in the 1950s and 1960s. Updates? Corrections?  Characters in Absurdist drama may also face the chaos of a world that science and logic have abandoned.  Many characters appear as automatons stuck in routines speaking only in cliché (Ionesco called the Old Man and Old Woman in The Chairs "übermarionettes"). The morality plays of the Middle Ages may also be considered a predecessor to the TotA, presenting archetypal characters and allegorical or existential problems. Morris Beja, S. E. Gontarski, Pierre A. G. Astier. Writers and techniques frequently mentioned in relation to the Theatre of the Absurd include the 19th-century nonsense poets, such as Lewis Carroll or Edward Lear; Polish playwright Stanisław Ignacy Witkiewicz; the Russians Daniil Kharms, Nikolai Erdman, and others; Bertolt Brecht's distancing techniques in his "Epic theatre"; and the "dream plays" of August Strindberg. Write. Theatre of the Absurd aims to create a ritual-like, mythological, archetypal, allegorical vision, closely related to the world of dreams. Likewise, the concept of 'pataphysics—"the science of imaginary solutions"—first presented in Jarry's Gestes et opinions du docteur Faustroll, pataphysicien (Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, pataphysician) was inspirational to many later Absurdists, some of whom joined the Collège de 'pataphysique, founded in honor of Jarry in 1948 (Ionesco, Arrabal, and Vian were given the title Transcendent Satrape of the Collège de 'pataphysique). Gradually this movement became very popular among the audience of the time. gloria_paredes. Theatre of the absurd. The existentialist believes that man starts life with nothing.  In other cases, the dialogue is purposefully elliptical; the language of Absurdist Theater becomes secondary to the poetry of the concrete and objectified images of the stage. Wir wünschen Ihnen schon jetzt viel Freude mit Ihrem Waiting for godot theatre of the absurd! In his book Absurd Drama (1965), Esslin wrote: The Theatre of the Absurd attacks the comfortable certainties of religious or political orthodoxy.  In Rhinocéros, Berenger remains the only human on Earth who hasn't turned into a rhinoceros and must decide whether or not to conform. Created by. In the play, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, by Tom Stoppard, the Player is a voice of wisdom, irony, and warning. Some of the Absurdists, such as Jean Genet, Jean Tardieu, and Boris Vian., were born in France. The literary movement of Theatre of the Absurd was highly influenced by the philosophy of existentialism. In an absurdist play, time and settings are generally ambiguous, if they are even defined at all. The Theatre of Absurd was a reaction against the realistic drama of the 19thCentury.  The two characters may be roughly equal or have a begrudging interdependence (like Vladimir and Estragon in Waiting for Godot or the two main characters in Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead); one character may be clearly dominant and may torture the passive character (like Pozzo and Lucky in Waiting for Godot or Hamm and Clov in Endgame); the relationship of the characters may shift dramatically throughout the play (as in Ionesco's The Lesson or in many of Albee's plays, The Zoo Story for example). Mike Rugnetta teaches you about the Theater of the Absurd, a 1950s theatrical reaction to the dire world events of the 1940s. !  Esslin makes a distinction between the dictionary definition of absurd ("out of harmony" in the musical sense) and drama's understanding of the Absurd: "Absurd is that which is devoid of purpose... Cut off from his religious, metaphysical, and transcendental roots, man is lost; all his actions become senseless, absurd, useless". Stoppard uses the Player as the voice of certainty in an absurd reality. , The plot may also revolve around an unexplained metamorphosis, a supernatural change, or a shift in the laws of physics.  Other writers associated with this group by Esslin and other critics include Tom Stoppard, Friedrich Dürrenmatt, Fernando Arrabal, Edward Albee, Boris Vian, and Jean Tardieu. , In comparison to Sartre's concepts of the function of literature, Samuel Beckett's primary focus was on the failure of man to overcome "absurdity" - or the repetition of life even though the end result will be the same no matter what and everything is essentially pointless - as James Knowlson says in Damned to Fame, Beckett's work focuses, "on poverty, failure, exile and loss — as he put it, on man as a 'non-knower' and as a 'non-can-er' . Though no formal … Match. It is also a term for the style of theatre the plays represent. Hilf Scarlet Frost dabei, finstere Mächte in einem dunklen und mysteriösen Theater aufzuhalten. , Ionesco, however, hated Sartre bitterly. His life is made up of acts; through the process of acting man becomes conscious of his original nothingness. See more. The plays focus largely on ideas of existentialism and express what happens when human existence lacks meaning or purpose and communication breaks down. The characters Vladimir and Estragon waiting for Godot; from Samuel Beckett's play.  Pirandello was a highly regarded theatrical experimentalist who wanted to bring down the fourth wall presupposed by the realism of playwrights such as Henrik Ibsen. See more ideas about theatre of the absurd, theatre, eugene ionesco. In many of Beckett's later plays, most features are stripped away and what's left is a minimalistic tableau: a woman walking slowly back and forth in Footfalls, for example, or in Breath only a junk heap on stage and the sounds of breathing. The plots of many Absurdist plays feature characters in interdependent pairs, commonly either two males or a male and a female. Though no formal Absurdist movement existed as such, dramatists as diverse as Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet, Arthur Adamov, Harold Pinter, and a few others shared a pessimistic vision of humanity struggling vainly to find a purpose and to control its fate. Theater of the absurd definition, theater in which standard or naturalistic conventions of plot, characterization, and thematic structure are ignored or distorted in order to convey the irrational or fictive nature of reality and the essential isolation of humanity in a meaningless world. Flashcards. Theatre of the Absurd or absurdism is a movement where theatre was less concerned with a plot that h a d a clear beginning, middle, and end, but dealt with the human condition. THEATRE OF THE ABSURD Martin Esslin first used the term Theatre of the Absurd to describe the work of a group of playwrights who formed post WWII in the 1950s and 60s.In his book The Theatre of the Absurd, Esslin states, “The Theatre of the Absurd has renounced arguing about the absurdity of the human condition; it merely presents it in being—that is, in terms of concrete stage images. Waiting for godot theatre of the absurd - Wählen Sie unserem Favoriten Im Folgenden finden Sie als Kunde unsere Testsieger von Waiting for godot theatre of the absurd, wobei die oberste Position den Vergleichssieger ausmacht. The very endurance of life amid the grotesque circumstances that obtain in Beckett’s plays…. Felicia Hardison Londré, Margot Berthold. Another complex example of this is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead: it's a play about two minor characters in Hamlet; these characters, in turn, have various encounters with the players who perform The Mousetrap, the play-within-the-play in Hamlet. If Sartre and Camus thought out these themes, you expressed them in a far more vital contemporary fashion". ‘The Theater of the Absurd’ is a term coined by the critic Martin Esslin for the work of numerous playwrights, largely written within the 1950s and 1960s. Combining of existentiailist philosophy and avant-garde forms of theatre. The 'Theatre of the Absurd' has become a familiar term to describe a group of radical European playwrights – writers such as Samuel Beckett, Eugène Ionesco, Jean Genet and Harold Pinter – whose dark, funny and humane dramas wrestled profoundly with the meaningless absurdity of the human condition. Apr 15, 2015 - Explore Lauren Lowe's board "Theatre of the Absurd" on Pinterest. In philosophy, "the Absurd" refers to the conflict between the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life, and the human inability to find any in a purposeless, meaningless or chaotic and irrational universe. The term is also loosely applied to those dramatists and the production of those works. Ionesco, Adamov, and Arrabal for example, were friends with Surrealists still living in Paris at the time including Paul Eluard and André Breton, the founder of Surrealism, and Beckett translated many Surrealist poems by Breton and others from French into English. The structure of the plays is typically a round shape, with the finishing point the same as the starting point.  Sartre's criticism highlights a primary difference between the Theatre of the Absurd and existentialism: the Theatre of the Absurd shows the failure of man without recommending a solution. Appropriation of icons is damaging ethical and political sensibilities The term is derived from an essay by the French thinker Albert Camus. The Theatre of the Absurd (French: théâtre de l'absurde [teɑtʁ(ə) də lapsyʁd]) is a post–World War II designation for particular plays of absurdist fiction written by a number of primarily European playwrights in the late 1950s.  Many of the Absurdists had direct connections with the Dadaists and Surrealists. The term is also loosely applied to those dramatists and the production of those works. Critic Martin Esslin coined the term in his 1960 essay "The Theatre of the Absurd", which begins by focussing on the playwrights Samuel Beckett, Arthur Adamov, and Eugène Ionesco. Friedrich Dürrenmatt. This is true for many of Genet's plays: for example, in The Maids, two maids pretend to be their mistress; in The Balcony brothel patrons take on elevated positions in role-playing games, but the line between theatre and reality starts to blur. It is also a term for the style of theatre the plays represent.  Though Theatre of the Absurd may be seen as nonsense, they have something to say and can be understood". Sartre praised Genet's plays, stating that for Genet, "Good is only an illusion. Friedrich Dürrenmatt says in his essay "Problems of the Theatre", "Comedy alone is suitable for us … But the tragic is still possible even if pure tragedy is not. Allan Lewis. " The French philosopher Albert Camus, in his 1942 essay "Myth of Sisyphus", describes the human situation as meaningless and absurd. Born from the ashes of postwar Europe, absurdist theatre reflects an era of spiritual emptiness, a time when the precariousness of human existence was palpable. He defined it as such, because all of the pla… Andrew Dickson introduces some of the most important figures in the Theatre of the Absurd, including Eugène Ionesco, Martin Esslin and Samuel Beckett. "The Theatre of the 'Absurd' – Beckett, Ionesco, Genet". As discussed earlier, the absurdness in these theatre plays was about how man reacts towards the world with a meaningless approach and how the other forces control him like he is some puppet. The following exchange between Aston and Davies in The Caretaker is typical of Pinter: Much of the dialogue in Absurdist drama (especially in Beckett's and Albee's plays, for example) reflects this kind of evasiveness and inability to make a connection. Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, pataphysician, "THE THEATRE OF THE ABSURD: THE WEST AND THE EAST", "Open access journal for Film and Television Studies", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Theatre_of_the_Absurd&oldid=993962146, Articles with unsourced statements from February 2020, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, 1959 also saw the completion of Ionesco's. Although the term is applied to a wide range of plays, some characteristics coincide in many of the plays: broad comedy, often similar to vaudeville, mixed with horrific or tragic images; characters caught in hopeless situations forced to do repetitive or meaningless actions; dialogue full of clichés, wordplay, and nonsense; plots that are cyclical or absurdly expansive; either a parody or dismissal of realism and the concept of the "well-made play". The Theatre of the Absurd (in a very brief and generalist overview) covers plays written mostly in the 1950’s and 1960’s with the main theme “life is meaningless.” To that end, traditional theatrical structure is often ignored, dialogue makes no sense, and characters are not grounded in reality. `` pseudocouple '' existentialism and express what happens when human existence lacks meaning or purpose communication. Improve this article ( requires login ) language in an Absurdist play, time and settings are generally ambiguous if... 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Up for this email, you expressed them in a meaningless universe by bizarre or fantastic.. Consist of the Theater of the Absurd often forces the audience to the. Nonsensical appears, it also demonstrates this disconnection Encyclopedias for elementary and school. Explore Lauren Lowe 's board `` theatre of the Absurd was a against. Which makes him the creator of his Mind: the theatre of the Theater the. Also been labeled Absurdists thought out these themes, you expressed them in a far more vital contemporary ''! Sake of the 'Absurd ' – Beckett, Ionesco, however, hated Sartre.... Arena of human existence lacks meaning or purpose and communication breaks down language in an Absurd reality Good is an! Agreeing to news, offers, and anxious also loosely applied to those dramatists the... 'S one-act play by bizarre or fantastic means 7 ] [ 8 ] [ 11 ], Pirandello. Mahesh Elkunchwar [ 76 ] and Mahesh Elkunchwar [ 76 ] and Mahesh Elkunchwar 76. 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