Locating an Interior world of escape in an absurd world: An Existential Reading of Let Us Compare Mythologies and the beginning of Leonard Cohen’s poetics of resistance

Goutam Karmakar & Shri Krishan Rai

Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, National Institute of Technology, Durgapur (NITD), India.

Volume 9, Number 1, 2017 I Full Text PDF

DOI: 10.21659/rupkatha.v9n1.s04

Received March 4, 2017; Revised on June 2, Accepted June 12, 2017; Published June 15, 2017.


Being an intensely personal poet, Leonard Cohen, one of the most important and best known poets of Canada has tried to show the inner turmoil and existential crisis of a poetic mind caught in mechanized and violent society where dehumanization compels him to create an interior world of escape. He shows how man becomes confused, disoriented and dread because of the absurd condition of the world and also tries to precede existence before essence. His ‘The Spice-Box of Earth’ shows an attempt to escape this world by love and ‘Flowers for Hitler’ along with ‘Parasites of Heaven’ show his passive acceptance of existence before the violence of the outer world. Not only poetry but his novel ‘Beautiful Losers’ also shows his false hope of rebirth and renewed vision of life. His journey towards hope finds expression in ‘The Energy of Slaves’ and ‘Death of a Lady’s Man’. And finally his quest for peace culminates in ‘Book of Mercy’ and in later ‘Book of Longing’ as his journey from innocence to experience and in again to innocence is completed. But all these begin with his very first poetic collection ‘Let Us Compare Mythologies’ where he has made a comparison of Christian, Hebrew and Classical mythologies to show the isolation of an individual and his experience in a seemingly violent world and how he acts out of his freedom of choice to accept the absurd condition. Further more this volume marks the beginning of Cohen’s utmost desire to flee from this world into his own creation, a world of escape which is nothing but philosophical suicide. So this paper makes an attempt to show how Cohen from the very beginning has taken stance to emphasize the very existence of the individual by accepting the absurd with resistance in order to attain a sense of innocence with his desired purified version and experience.

Keywords: Absurd , Death, Cohen, Existence, Peace.

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