Samuel Beckett


Beckett’s Play, Part 1 (Part 2 after the jump)

On this date Samuel Beckett was born (1906 -1989).

Frye in “City at the End of Things” in The Modern Century says this about Beckett’s Waiting for Godot

There are two contemporary plays which seem to sum up with peculiar vividness and forcefulness the malaise that I have described as the alienation of progress.  One is Becket”s Waiting for Godot [the other is Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?].  The main theme of this play is the paralysis of activity that is brought about by the dislocation of life in time, where there is no present, only a faint memory of the past, and an expectation of a future with no power to move towards it.  Of the two characters whose dialogue forms most of the play, one calls himself Adam; at another time they identify themselves as Cain and Abel; at other times, vaguely and helplessly, themselves crucified, with Christ. “Have we no rights?” one asks.  “We got rid of them” the other says — distinctly, according to the stage direction.  And even more explicitly: “at this place, at this moment of time, all mankind is us.”  They spend the whole action of the play waiting for a certain Godot to arrive: he never comes, they deny that they are “tied” to him, but they have no will to break away.  All that turns up is a Satanic figure called Pozzo, with a clown tied to him in a parody of their own state.  On his second appearance, Pozzo is bind, a condition which detaches him even further from time, for, he says, “the blind have no notion of time” (CW 11, 25-26).


Becket’s Play, Part 2

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One thought on “Samuel Beckett

  1. Ed Lemond

    There’s a wonderful essay by Marjorie Perloff, “Between Verse and Prose: Beckett and the New Poetry,” published in Critical Inquiry, December, 1982, and collected in “On Beckett: Essays and Criticism” edited by S.E. Gontarski. Frye’s description of a “third type of conventionalized utterance,” neither verse nor prose, based on the “associative rhythm of ordinary speech,” is key to understanding Beckett, Perloff argues.


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