Absurd Passion

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  • Title: Absurd Passion: Camusian Freedom and Revolt in "Cante Flamenco"
  • Author(s): Ruth Saxey Reese
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: The Arts in Society
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Arts Theory and History
  • Keywords: Flamenco, Camus, Absurd, Cultural Persistence
  • Volume: 14
  • Issue: 3
  • Year: 2019
  • ISSN: 2326-9952 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-1779 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/2326-9952/CGP/v14i03/45-55
  • Citation: Saxey Reese, Ruth. 2019. "Absurd Passion: Camusian Freedom and Revolt in "Cante Flamenco"." The International Journal of Arts Theory and History 14 (3): 45-55. doi:10.18848/2326-9952/CGP/v14i03/45-55.
  • Extent: 11 pages


Gypsies (“flamencos”) have lived in southern Spain for over 600 years, enduring oppression and discrimination that continues to this day. Their cultural experience is voiced in the flamenco song tradition with its recurring expressions of rebellion, persistence, and independence. This paper explores how these lyrical themes dovetail with Albert Camus’ theory of the Absurd, which he defines as the conflict between humanity’s search for meaningful order in life and the fundamental irrationality of the universe. For him, the only defensible responses to absurdity are revolt, passion, and freedom. I propose that traditional flamenco lyrics, as a potent expression of perseverance and courage, are a powerful articulation of a Camusian outlook on life.