"Waiting for Godot" is the most famous play by Samuel Beckett. It has two acts. It was initially written in French but the writer himself translated it to English. The play became popular and it was translated to many foreign languages. The reason for its popularity lies in the fact that the play has no plot but we … [Read more...] about Waiting for Godot
Samuel Beckett was born on April 13, 1906, near Dublin, Ireland, on April 13 into a middle-class home. His mother was a nurse, while his father worked as a quantity surveyor. When he was 14, Beckett was sent to get his education at the same school Oscar Wilde went. He studied French, English and Italian at the Trinity College in Dublin.
Beckett is known for his comment "I had little talent for happiness" which means that he was trapped in some sort of depression even as a young boy. He hated long conversations with people he did not know and often stayed in bed for the entire day. He had an opportunity to be advanced by James Joyce's daughter who he rejected by saying that he did not have classic human feelings. This type of depression can be seen in his work, especially in Waiting for Godot which he wrote when he had to struggle to get through life.
In 1926, he moved to Paris where he met James Joyce who was, then, a respected older writer. He soon became his assistant, which resulted in Beckett writing an essay Dante... Brino. Vico... Joyce in which he defended Joyce's work to the public. One year later, in 1927, Beckett won his first prize for writing the poem "Whoroscope" in which he wrote about Descarte's meditating as well as the transience of life and the subject of time. After that, he completed his study of Proust and left his job at Trinity College as he decided to travel.
He journeyed through Germany, England, Ireland, and France as well as he continued writing his stories and poems. It is likely that he met many people who later can be found in his writing, for example, two tramps Vladimir and Estragon in Waiting for Godot. While he was traveling through Paris, Beckett always made a visit to his friend Joyce.
He decided to permanently move to Paris in 1937 and, after a short period of time, a man who asked for the money stabbed him on the street. His recovery from a perforated lung lasted long but he wanted to know why the man attacked him. He even went to visit him in prison. When he asked him why he stabbed him, the man said: "Je ne sais pas, Monsieur" (I don't know, Mister). The attitude and the sentence can be found in several of Beckett's later writings.
During World War II, he joined a resistance movement in Paris and remained there until 1942 when several members of the group were arrested. Until then, he was forced to run away with his wife to the zone that wasn't occupied. In 1945, when Paris was liberated from the Germans, Beckett and his wife returned. From that time, he made a rising career as one of the most popular writers by publishing a book of criticism, two books of short stories, novels: Mercier et Camier, The Unnamable, Malone Dies, Endgame, Eleutheria and his most popular work Waiting for Godot. There were some disputes about the genre for his novels (Molloy, Murphy, Watt…) - whether they belong to modern, modernist or postmodernist novels, but his plays, immediately after their publication and presentation, were seen as the culmination of a new direction - antitheatre.
His first play was surely Eleutheria which showed a young man's effort to escape social obligations and cut himself loose from his annoying family. Eleutheria was often compared to his own search for freedom.
On January 5, 1953, he experienced great success when his work Waiting for Godot first premiered at the Theatre de Babylone. Although many critics wrote about the play as the "weird little play where nothing happens", Waiting for Godot became successful. Over a couple of years, it ran for 400 performances at the mentioned theatre and was praised by world-renowned critics and writers. He warned us of some typical feelings and problems of our time - "waiting for Godot" has become a saying that stands for a hopeless and senseless expectation of someone or something that might save/help us, even when we don't believe it will happen.
The novel also saw an interesting production in 1957 by Actor Workshop who performed the play at the San Quentin penitentiary. 1400 convicts immediately identified with Estragon and Vladimir's pain of waiting for their life to end and the daily struggle for their existence. Endgame, his second masterpiece, was premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in London on April 3, 1957.
All of his major works were mostly written in French as he was in the belief that he should use is more wisely and forced him to be more disciplined in writing. However, he translated Waiting for Godot in English by himself.
Beckett was one of the first absurdist playwriters who won international fame. His works have been translated into more than 20 languages. He also received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1969 and continued to write until his death.
Samuel Beckett died on December 22, 1989 in Paris, and toward the end, he said that each word he wrote during his life seemed as "an unnecessary stain of nothingness and silence".