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Samuel Beckett

Samuel Barclay Beckett (possibly April 13, 1906 - December 22, 1989) was an absurdist Irish playwright, novelist and poet. Although Beckett insisted he was born on Good Friday, April 13 1906, his birth certificate puts the date a month later.

He studied French, Italian and English at Trinity College, Dublin from 1923 to 1927, and shortly thereafter took a teaching post in Paris. There he met James Joyce, who was to have a massive influence on him. Beckett continued his writing career while doing some secretarial duties for Joyce. In 1929 he published his first work, a critical essay defending Joyce's work. His first short story, "Assumption", was published the same year, and in 1930 he won a small literary prize with his poem "Whoroscope", which largely concerns Rene Descartes, another major influence.

In 1930, he returned to Trinity College as a lecturer, but left after less than two years, and began to travel throughout Europe, eventually settling permanently in France. There he published a critical study of Marcel Proust.

He attempted a Joycean novel which was eventually abandoned and published as a series of short stories, More Pricks Than Kicks (it has been suggested that each of the stories is a gentle parody of those in Joyce's Dubliners[?]). This was followed by the novel Murphy.

Beckett's best known novels are probably the three collectively known as "the trilogy", Molloy (1951), Malone Dies (1951 in French, translated to English 1958) and The Unnamable (1953, translated 1960). The Unnamable opens in the following manner, which might be said to be typical of Beckett's mature style:

"Where now? Who now? When now? Unquestioning. I, say I. Unbelieving. Questions, hypotheses, call them that. Keep going, going on, call that going, call that on."

Beckett is most famous for the play Waiting for Godot (published 1952, English translation published 1955), which opened to mainly bad reviews but slowly became very popular and is still often performed today. Like most of his works after 1947, the play was first written in French (under the title En attendant Godot). Beckett is thus considered one of the great French playwrights of the twentieth century, along with Ionesco. He translated his works into the English language himself.

Another well-known play from the same period is Endgame[?].

Beckett's theatre is stark, fundamentally minimalist, and deeply pessimistic about human nature and the human situation. After his last full length novel, How It Is, his work explores his themes in increasingly cryptic and attenuated style.

Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1969.

He died on December 22, 1989 and was interred in the Cimetiere de Montparnasse, Paris, France. His gravestone (http://www.Samuel-Beckett.net/samgrave.jpg) is a massive slab of polished black granite. Chiseled into its surface is "Samuel Beckett 1906-1989" and the comparable information for his wife, Suzanne, who is buried with him. At the foot of his grave stands one lone tree. List of works

Dramatic works


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