Samuel Beckett

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Related to Samuel Beckett: Waiting for Godot

Beckett, Samuel

(bĕk`ĭt), 1906–89, Anglo-French playwright and novelist, b. Dublin. Beckett studied and taught in Paris before settling there permanently in 1937. He wrote primarily in French, frequently translating his works into English himself. His first published novel, Murphy (1938), typifies his later works by eliminating the traditional elements of plot, character, and setting. Instead, he presents the experience of waiting and struggling with a pervading sense of futility. The anguish of persisting in a meaningless world is intensified in Beckett's subsequent novels including Watt (1942–44); the trilogy Molloy (1951), Malone Dies (1951), and The Unnamable (1953); How It Is (1961); and The Lost Ones (1972). In his theater of the absurd, Beckett combined poignant humor with an overwhelming sense of anguish and loss. Best known and most controversial of his dramas are Waiting for Godot (1952) and Endgame (1957), which have been performed throughout the world. Beckett was awarded the 1969 Nobel Prize in Literature.

Beckett's other works include a major study of Proust (1931); the plays Krapp's Last Tape (1959) and Happy Days (1961); a screenplay, Film (1969); short stories, Breath (1966) and Lessness (1970); collected shorter prose in Stories and Texts for Nothing (tr. 1967), No's Knife (1967), and The Complete Short Prose: 1929–1989 (1996, ed. by S. E. Gontarski); volumes of collected writings, More Pricks than Kicks (1970) and First Love and Other Shorts (1974); and Poems (1963). His Collected Works (16 vol.) was published in 1970 and a comprehensive centenary edition (5 vol.) was published in 2006. Beckett's first works of fiction and drama were both published posthumously, the novel Dream of Fair to Middling Women (1932) in 1992 and the play Eleuthéria (1947) in 1995.


See S. Lawlor and J. Pilling, ed., The Collected Poems of Samual Beckett (2014); M. D. Fehsenfeld et al., ed., The Letters of Samuel Beckett (3 vol., 2009–14); J. and E. Knowlson, Beckett Remembering/Remembering Beckett: A Centenary Celebration (2006); memoir by A. Atik (2006); biographies by D. Bair (1980), J. Knowlson (1996), and A. Cronin (1997); studies by H. Kenner (1968 and 1973), R. Cohn (1972 and 1973), S. Connor (1986), P. Gidal (1986), R. Pountney (1988), L. Gordon (1996), C. C. Andonian (1998), J. D. O'Hara (1998), A Uhlmann and S. E. Gontarski, ed. (2006), and S. Watt (2009); S. E. Gontarski, ed., A Companion to Samuel Beckett (2010).

Beckett, Samuel


Born Apr. 13, 1906, in Dublin. Poet, dramatist, novelist, and a representative of modernism. Irish by descent. Writes in English and French. Graduated from Trinity College in Dublin.

Beckett was secretary to the writer J. Joyce. Since 1937 he has lived in France. He published the collection of stories More Pricks Than Kicks in 1934, the collection of poems Echo’s Bones in 1935, and the novel Murphy in 1938. The heroes of the surrealistic plays Waiting For Godot (1952; Russian translation, 1966), Endgame (1957), and Krapp’s Last Tape (1959) are physical and spiritual cripples, possessed by a terror of life. The texts of Beckett’s novels Molloy (1951), Malone Dies (1951), Watt (1953), and How It Is (1961) are alogical and disjointed. He has written essays on M. Proust (1931) and J. Joyce (1936). Beckett received the Nobel Prize in 1969.


L’innommable. Paris, 1953.
Malone meurt. Paris, 1963.


Istoriia angliiskoi literatury, vol. 3. Moscow, 1958.
Leklerk, G. “Sud’by avangardistskogo teatra vo Frantsii.” Teatr, 1959, no. 9.
Kopelev, L. “Ostorozhno—trupnyi iad!” In his book Serdtse vsegda sleva. Moscow, 1960. Elistratova, A. “Tragikomediia Bekketa ’V ozhidanii Godo.’ ” Inostrannaia literatura, 1966, no. 10.
Samuel Beckett: A Collection of Critical Essays. Englewood Cliffs, N. J. [1965].
Fletcher, J. S. Beckett’s Art. London, 1967. Beckett at 60: A Festschrift. London [1967].
Hayman, R. S. Beckett. London [1968].
References in periodicals archive ?
OUT OF DANGER Migrants saved off Libyan coast by the Samuel Beckett
BENGSCH, Daniel, "Figur, Objekt, Stimme: Elemente moglicher Raume am Beispiel narrativer Texte von Samuel Beckett / Character, Object, Voice: Elements of Possible Spaces in Narrative Texts by Samuel Beckett', in Sick, ed.
Uhlmann, author of Samuel Beckett and the Philosophical Image (2006), includes a complete transcription of Beckett's notes on the Ethics, initiated in late 1935 and retained by Beckett until his death.
If Samuel Beckett, Edward Albee and Deaf West Theatre's ever-arresting fusion of spoken text and sign language aren't enough to get viewers through the doors at 5112 Lankershim, I offer a couple of other enticements.
Playwrights from Eugene O'Neill to Samuel Beckett have written plays that invited--demanded, in some cases--directorial experimentation.
Pinter was heavily influenced by Irish playwright Samuel Beckett.
With its clear Canadian echoes of Samuel Beckett and Robert Bresson, MacGillivray's work is a modernist marvel in miniature that speaks of itself as it speaks to us.
If Dashiell Hammett had written the stream-of-consciousness detective novel he once claimed he would like to, and that manuscript had been passed on to Edmond Jabes for severe line editing, then stolen by early-career Samuel Beckett to be dosed with bursts of hot humor and jaunty textures, then revisited by late-career Samuel Beckett for cooling and quieting, then borrowed by the late poet Jackson Mac Low to undergo various destabilizing textual operations, we might, if we could lay our hands on the resultant hybrid wonder, have some sense of the baffling, polymorphic territory limned in Robert Majzels stunning antinovel, Apikoros Sleuth.
No one ever called Gertrude Stein and Samuel Beckett two tons o' fun.
If nothing else, that would explain the bare, classical purity of Bresson's scripts, a language one can find in authors as radically different as Jean Racine and Samuel Beckett.
In "Waiting for Godot," a play by Samuel Beckett, two characters spend the entire play speculating about when another character, Godot, will arrive.
Not only is there the new residential area to the west, but also Theater Row, a collection of century-old buildings that house Off-Broadway theaters -- the Samuel Beckett (previewing the Come dians), Douglas Fairbanks (Forbidden Broadway, 2003), John Houseman (Bartenders), Acorn (The Mercy Seat), and Playwrights Horizon (My Life with Albertine), among others.