Reader's Encyclopedia

Beckett, Samuel (1906 - )

Irish - born French novelist, dramatist, and poet. A close friend of James Joyce, Beckett settled in Paris in 1937. The title figure in Beckett's first novel, Murphy (1938), in his agonized attempts to escape his body to find the life of the mind, is in many ways a prototype for Beckett's later creations. With the notable exceptions of the novel Watt (1944; published 1953) and the plays Krapp's Last Tape and Happy Days (1961), Beckett wrote most of his works after 1939 in French, then translated them into English. Between 1947 and 1957, he wrote the works on which his reputation most securely rests: the novel trilogy Molloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable and the plays Waiting for Godot and End - game. Considered major works in the literature of the absurd, all of these pieces present a comically pessimistic allegory of man's condition. In some, the traditionally farcical gestures of the circus clown and the vaudeville actor are used to portray human weakness, frustration, and helplessness. His characters typically advance through worsening stages of decrepitude and paralysis; such human bonds as they form are the coupling of tyrant and victim or, at best, of two pathetically groping dependencies. In a world where life is both chaotic and meaningless, except in its inevitable degeneration toward death, the only freedom that exists is in the mind. Because they live only in their minds, Beckett's characters are free to invent other characters, whose existence becomes the proof of their own. The freedom to invent is linked to the compulsive need to express; throughout Beckett's work, language is used as the only weapon against chaos, at the same time that he reveals the incapacity of language for any meaningful expression. In much of his later work, Beckett experimented with eliminating the physical world altogether, using disembodied voices or even no voice at all, as in Breath (1971), a thirty - second piece in which the only sound is a faint cry. Similarly, in Company (1980), in pared - down prose, a man incapable of speech hears a voice reminiscing about the events in his past.

Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1969. The following year, his Collected Work were published in sixteen volumes. Subsequent selections and collections include Collected Poems in English and French (1977; revised 1984), I Can't Go On, I'll Go On (1976), and Ends and Odds (1976), which contains eight new dramatic pieces: ("Ends") Not I, That Time, Footfalls, and Ghost Trio; and ("Odds") Theatre I, Theatre II, Radio I, and Radio II.

Recent works include a collection of five plays, Catastrophes et autres dramaticulus (1982). The title play appeared in The New Yorker and was originally written for the then imprisoned Czechoslovakia playwright Vaclav Havel. Disjecta: Miscellaneous Writings and a Dramatic Fragment appeared in 1983 and Worstward Ho in 1984.

0111011000100101001010011010010011101011010011011110101100000000011110010000101110001110001010011000111000011111101101101111111000
0110010101001011110010011110110011101100111111111001000100010000000010011000101101111001000100101010101101100011010101000111100111
1111100101011010101000010000100011010011010110100111011110011011111001101011000010100010111111011100001001010010101011011101010011
1000011111010100010011110001111010101110110000000010100110001011000101100010100110111001111101011101110000101111000001101101000000
0011000100101101111000001010011101001110010100010011100011111010110101100100111001111100000111011001011001001101101111011001000001
0101110010011100011000100010110111110000111101011000101101110000001110101001101010111100010101111000001000010101100010110001011111
1100110010100010001100110111011101110101111101010001001100100011111111000100100001101011000101000110100011011101100000000101011001
0110011110100111010100011001001011001111100101100111101000010000111000110110000010100000001011000110001110100110011010111010001001
1000100001100001011011100000010001111100100001011110100000111010000111001010010000100000000100110010011000010111011010001011010010
0100101000000010100011110000111011101110111010100111110111001111011101101001110110111111110111001000100110100111000110101000001111
0101010011010001001101001111001101010000001001111001111100000111101011100110011111110111110101101000001001001100100101101001100110
0011111100111011100100011101001100110011100011101001010111001001101110010111110010100101000101010110011110000001010011100111001010
0110100111100000110100101101110101010110100101011000011101111110110101010011101110000110101101110110000011010000110101011111111110
0111001010100010011110000011111001010011001110011000110110101111001100010010101100111111000000111100011001100010011110100000000110