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Samuel Beckett's plays

Beckett, a remote, austere recluse, 1906 – 1989, was an Irish novelist, dramatist, short story writer, theatre director and poet. His literary and theatrical work features bleak, impersonal and tragicomic experiences of life, often coupled with comedy and nonsense. His work became increasingly minimilist as his career progressed, involving more linguistic experimentation, with techniques of stream of consciousness repetition. He is considered one of the last modernist writers, extolling the 'Theatre of the Absurd.' A resident of Paris for most of his adult life, Beckett wrote in both French and English. During WW2 Beckett was a member of the French Resistance group and was awarded the Croix de Guerre in 1949. He was awarded the 1969 Nobel Prize in Literature for his writing, "where modern man acquires its elevation". In 1961 he shared the inaugural Prix International with JL Borges. He was the first person to be elected Saoi of Aosdána in 1984.

Whether it is in the nameless characters in Play, the lone and aging Krapp awaiting imminent death in Krapp’s Last Tape, the pathetic Winnie sinking in her grave in Happy Days, the dying family in the masochistic Endgame, the monotonous life of waiting of Estragon and Vladimir in Waiting for Godot, or the down-and-outers in other dramatic works, Beckett demonstrates a preference for passive characters who attempt to make sense of an increasingly absurd existence and who struggle to survive in a universe that lacks love and meaningful relationships.

As a critic, a transitional thinker, an innovator, and a postmodernist who probed the human condition and sensed the absurdity of the modern world, Beckett tried to link art and life into unusual theatrical images in order to etch human beings’ inner world and the human experience of consciousness. Even though his vision of life and the human predicament is discouraging, his plays are rich with clownish characters, slapstick humor, word games, irony, and sarcasm, allowing laughter to triumph over material absurdity.

A respite from media and relief from expectations run concurrently in Beckett's plays. In Waiting for Godot, full of expectation, nothing happens twice. Should we each subsume ourselves to the inaction and experience the uniqueness of this nonsense play?


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