Samuel Beckett

Samuel Barclay Beckett, born on 13 April, 1906 was an Irish novelist, playwright, short story writer, theatre director, poet, and literary translator. A resident of Paris for most of his adult life, he wrote in both English and French.

He is considered one of the last modernist writers and is know for “The Theatre of the Absurd”.

Beckett is most famous for his play En attendant Godot, I had this play during my Masters and was completely in awe of the way it was written, so mush of patience. Fin de partie, Krapp’s Last Tape and Happy days are the other plays that deal with dark humour, themes similar to those of the existentialist thinkers.

In Prose, his novels Molloy, Malone meurt (Malone dies) and L’innommable (1953) too have achieved outstanding achievements. (I am yet to read the novels).

“Waiting for Godot” at Gerald W. Lynch Theatre (Photo: Richard Termine)

Waiting for Godot remains my favourite. It describes the hopelessness of the lives of Estragon and Vladimir. Their dire necessity to pass time while waiting for Godot. The stage has just a tree, the protagonists, (Vladimir and Estragon), Lucky and Pozzo and the boy. The waiting period never ends till the end and this play has no action but still is so enlightening. Their conversations, their repartee during the play keeps the audience engaged and undeterred.

It could be said that Lucky and Pozzo are similar to Cain and Abel. Estragon compares himself to Christ in terms of his own suffering.

In some ways, Vladimir and Estragon are compared to the two thieves that were crucified next to Jesus Christ.

The very fact that none of the characters retain a clear mental history means that they are constantly struggling to prove their existence.

Beckett is believed to have said that the name Godot comes from the French “godillot” meaning a military boot. Beckett fought in the war and so spending long periods of time waiting for messages to arrive would have been common for him. The more common interpretation that Godot might mean “God” is almost certainly wrong. Beckett apparently stated that if he had meant “God,” he would have written “God”.

After reading the play, reading different interpretations of the critics is much different. Critics can see much more than I can. With reading on the rise nowadays, I hope to read between the lines, thanks to Samuel Beckett.

Existentialism and Theatre of the Absurd are the themes valid in today’s day to day grind where people are just vying for existence.

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Author: Srishti Rajeev

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