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20th century Irish novelist, playwright and poet Samuel Beckett penned the play 'Waiting for Godot.' In 1969, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Who Was Samuel Beckett?
During the 1930s and 1940s, Samuel Beckett wrote his first novels and short stories. He wrote a trilogy of novels in the 1950s as well as famous plays like Waiting for Godot. In 1969 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. His later works included poetry and short story collections and novellas.
Samuel Barclay Beckett was born on April 13, 1906, in Dublin, Ireland. His father, William Frank Beckett of Huguenot descent, worked in the construction business and his mother, Maria Jones Roe, was a nurse. Young Samuel attended Earlsfort House School in Dublin, then at 14, he went to Portora Royal School, the same school attended by Oscar Wilde. He received his Bachelor’s degree from Trinity College in 1927. Referring to his childhood, Beckett, once remaking, “I had little talent for happiness.” In his youth he would periodically experience severe depression keeping him in bed until mid-day. This experience would later influence his writing.
In 1928, Beckett found a welcome home in Paris where he met and became a devoted student of James Joyce. In 1931, he embarked on a restless sojourn through Britain, France and Germany. He wrote poems and stories and did odd jobs to support himself. On his journey, he came across many individuals who would inspire some of his most interesting characters.
In 1937, Beckett settled in Paris. Shortly thereafter, he was stabbed by a pimp after refusing his solicitations. While recovering in the hospital, he met Suzanne Dechevaux-Dumesnuil, a piano student in Paris. The two would become life-long companions and eventually marry. After meeting with his attacker, Beckett dropped the charges, partly to avoid the publicity.
Resistance Fighter in World War II
During World War II, Beckett’s Irish citizenship allowed him to remain in Paris as a citizen of a neutral country. He fought in the resistance movement until 1942 when members of his group were arrested by the Gestapo. He and Suzanne fled to the unoccupied zone until the end of the war.
After the war, Beckett was awarded the Croix de Guerre for bravery during his time in the French resistance. He settled in Paris and began his most prolific period as a writer. In five years, he wrote Eleutheria, Waiting for Godot, Endgame, the novels Malloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable, and Mercier et Camier, two books of short stories, and a book of criticism.
Plays: 'Waiting for Godot'
Beckett’s first publication, Molloy, enjoyed modest sales, but more importantly praise from French critics. Soon, Waiting for Godot, achieved quick success at the small Theatre de Babylone putting Beckett in the international spotlight. The play ran for 400 performances and enjoyed critical praise.
Beckett wrote in both French and English, but his most well-known works, written between WWII and the 1960s, were written in French. Early on he realized his writing had to be subjective and come from his own thoughts and experiences. His works are filled with allusions to other writers such as Dante, Rene Descartes, and Joyce. Beckett’s plays are not written along traditional lines with conventional plot and time and place references. Instead, he focuses on essential elements of the human condition in dark humorous ways. This style of writing has been called “Theater of the Absurd” by Martin Esslin, referring to poet Albert Camus’ concept of “the absurd.” The plays focus on human despair and the will to survive in a hopeless world that offers no help in understanding.
The 1960s were a period of change for Beckett. He found great success with this plays across the world. Invitations came to attend rehearsals and performances which led to a career as a theater director. In 1961, he secretly married Suzanne who took care of his business affairs. A commission from the BBC in 1956 led to offers to write for radio and cinema through the 1960s.
Beckett continued to write throughout the 1970s and 80s mostly in a small house outside Paris. There he could give total dedication to his art evading publicity. In 1969, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, though he declined accepting it personally to avoid making a speech at the ceremonies. However, he should not be considered a recluse. He often times met with other artists, scholars and admirers to talk about his work.
By the late 1980s, Beckett was in failing health and had moved to a small nursing home. Suzanne, his wife, had died in July 1989. His life was confined to a small room where he would receive visitors and write. He died on December 22, 1989, in a hospital of respiratory problems just months after his wife.
Samuel Beckett-Books, Pl biography.com 02 V 2023.
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Themes and Related Quotes From "Waiting for Godot"
"Waiting for Godot"
Samuel Beckett's Famous Existential Play
"Waiting for Godot" is a play by Samuel Beckett that premiered in France in January 1953. The play, Beckett's first, explores the meaning and meaninglessness of life through its repetitive plot and dialogue. "Waiting for Godot" is an enigmatic but very significant play in the absurdist tradition. It is sometimes described as a major literary milestone.
Becket's existential play centers around the characters Vladamir and Estragon who are conversing while waiting beneath a tree for someone (or something) named Godot. Another man called Pozzo wanders up and talks with them briefly before venturing off to sell his enslaved person Lucky. Then another man comes with a message from Godot saying he will not be coming that night. Though Vladamir and Estragon then say they will leave, they do not move as the curtain falls.
Theme 1: Existentialism
Nothing much happens in "Waiting for Godot," which opens very much as it closes, with very little changed—except the characters' existential understanding of the world. Existentialism requires the individual to find meaning in their lives without reference to a god or afterlife, something that Beckett's characters find impossible. The play begins and ends with similar words. Its final lines are: "Well, shall we go. / Yes, let's go. / (They do not move)."
We're waiting for Godot.
Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it's awful!
Theme 2: The Nature of Time
Time moves in cycles in the play, with the same events recurring over and over again. Time also has real significance: Though the characters now exist in a never-ending loop, at some point in the past things were different. As the play progresses, the characters are mainly engaged in passing the time until Godot arrives—if, indeed, he ever will arrive. The theme of the meaninglessness of life is woven together with this theme of the recurrent and pointless loop of time.
He didn't say for sure he'd come.
And if he doesn't come?
We'll come back tomorrow.
And then the day after tomorrow.
And so on.
The point is—
Until he comes.
We came here yesterday.
Ah no, there you're mistaken.
That passed the time.
It would have passed in any case.
Yes, but not so rapidly.
Have you not done tormenting me with your accursed time! It's abominable! When! When! One day, is that not enough for you, one day he went dumb, one day I went blind, one day we'll go deaf, one day we were born, one day we shall die, the same day, the same second, is that not enough for you? They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it's night once more.
Theme 3: The Meaninglessness of Life
One of the central themes of "Waiting for Godot" is the meaninglessness of life. Even as the characters insist on staying where they are and doing what they do, they acknowledge that they do it for no good reason. The play confronts the reader and audience with a void of meaning, challenging them with the blankness and boredom of this situation.
We wait. We are bored. No, don't protest, we are bored to death, there's no denying it. Good. A diversion comes along and what do we do? We let it go to waste. ...In an instant, all will vanish and we'll be alone once more, in the midst of nothingness.
Theme 4: The Sadness of Life
There's wistful sadness in this particular Beckett play. The characters of Vladamir and Estragon are grim even in their casual conversation, even as Lucky entertains them with song and dance. Pozzo, in particular, makes speeches that reflect a sense of angst and sadness.
The tears of the world are a constant quantity. For each one who begins to weep somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh. Let us not then speak ill of our generation, it is not any unhappier than its predecessors. Let us not speak well of it either. Let us not speak of it at all. It is true the population has increased.
Theme 5: Witness and Waiting as a Means to Salvation
While "Waiting for Godot" is, in many ways, a nihilistic and existential play, it also contains elements of spirituality. Are Vladimir and Estragon merely waiting? Or, by waiting together, are they taking part in something bigger than themselves? Several aspects of waiting are invoked in the play as containing meaning in themselves: the togetherness and fellowship of their waiting, the fact that the wait itself is a kind of purpose, and the faithfulness of continuing the wait—of keeping the appointment.
Tomorrow when I wake or think I do, what shall I say of today? That with Estragon my friend, at this place, until the fall of night, I waited for Godot?
...Let us not waste our time in idle discourse! Let us do something, while we have the chance....at this place, at this moment of time, all mankind is us, whether we like it or not. Let us make the most of it before it is too late! Let us represent worthily for once the foul brood to which a cruel fate consigned us! What do you say?
Why are we here, that is the question? And we are blessed in this, that we happen to know the answer. Yes, in this immense confusion one thing alone is clear. We are waiting for Godot to come. ...We are not saints, but we have kept our appointment.
11 Quotes From Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" - Thoug…
03 V 2023.
That passed the time.
Would it not have passed anyway?
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Best Samuel Beckett Quotes
In this category, we have collected the best quotes by novelist playwright Samuel Beckett. Read below for some of the best and most famous Samuel Beckett quotes.
1. "We are all born mad. Some remain so." - Samuel Beckett.
2. "They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it's night once more." - Samuel Beckett.
3. "To find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now." - Samuel Beckett.
4. "All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." - Samuel Beckett.
5. "If I was dead, I wouldn't know I was dead. That's the only thing I have against death. I want to enjoy my death." - Samuel Beckett.
6. "What do I know of man’s destiny? I could tell you more about radishes." - Samuel Beckett.
7. "It sometimes happens and will sometimes happen again that I forget who I am and strut before my eyes, like a stranger." - Samuel Beckett.
8. "Where I am, I don’t know, I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on. You’re on earth. There’s no cure for that." - Samuel Beckett.
9. "Make sense who may. I switch off." - Samuel Beckett.
10. "Life is habit. Or rather life is a succession of habits." - Samuel Beckett.
11. "Words are all we have." - Samuel Beckett.
12. "If you do not love me I shall not be loved If I do not love you I shall not love." - Samuel Beckett.
13. "I can't go on. I'll go on." - Samuel Beckett, 'The Unnamable'.
14. "Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness." - Samuel Beckett.
15. "If by Godot I had meant God I would have said God, and not Godot." - Samuel Beckett, 'Waiting For Godot'.
16. "Birth was the death of him." - Samuel Beckett.
17. "All life long, the same questions, the same answers." - Samuel Beckett.
18. "To find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now." - Samuel Beckett.
19. "Sometimes I wonder if I’m in my right mind. Then it passes off and I’m as intelligent as ever." - Samuel Beckett.
20. "Against the charitable gesture, there is no defense." - Samuel Beckett.
21. "Try again. Fail again. Fail better." - Samuel Beckett.
22. "You're on earth. There's no cure for that." - Samuel Beckett.
23. "Habit is a compromise effected between an individual and his environment." - Samuel Beckett, 'Proust.'
24. "Nothing is funnier than unhappiness." - Samuel Beckett.
25. "I pause to record that I feel in the extraordinary form. Delirium perhaps." - Samuel Beckett.
26. "Let us not waste our time in idle discourse!" - Samuel Beckett, 'Waiting for Godot'.
27. "So all things limp together for the only possible." - Samuel Beckett.
28. "James Joyce was a synthesizer, trying to bring in as much as he could. I am an analyzer, trying to leave out as much as I can." - Samuel Beckett.
29. "There are two moments worthwhile in writing, the one when you start and the other when you throw it in the waste-paper basket." - Samuel Beckett.
Samuel Beckett Quotes From Plays
30. "We are no longer the same, you wiser but not sadder, and I sadder but not wiser, for wiser I could hardly become without grave personal inconvenience, whereas sorrow is a thing you can keep adding to all your life long, is it not, like a stamp or an egg collection, without feeling very much the worse for it, is it not." - Samuel Beckett, 'Watt.'
31. "The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new." - Samuel Beckett, 'Murphy.'
32. "The tears of the world are a constant quality. For each one who begins to weep, somewhere else another stop. The same is true of the laugh." - Samuel Beckett.
33. "The end is in the beginning and yet you go on." - Samuel Beckett, 'Endgame.'
34. "Nothing is funnier than unhappiness." - Samuel Beckett.
35. "God is a witness that cannot be sworn." - Samuel Beckett.
36. "No, I regret nothing, all I regret is having been born, dying is such a long tiresome business I always found." - Samuel Beckett.
37. "It was long since I had longed for anything and the effect on me was horrible." - Samuel Beckett.
38. "Personally I have no bone to pick with graveyards." - Samuel Beckett.
39. "God is love. Yes or no? No." - Samuel Beckett.
40. "Memories are killing." - Samuel Beckett, 'The Expelled.'
41. "Don't touch me! Don't question me! Don't speak to me! Stay with me!" - Samuel Beckett.
42. "There's man all over for you, blaming on his boots the fault of his feet." - Samuel Beckett, 'Waiting for Godot.'
43. "My mistakes are my life." - Samuel Beckett.
44. "Nothing happens. Nobody comes, nobody goes. It's awful." - Samuel Beckett.
45. "Our vulgar perception is not concerned with other than vulgar phenomena." - Samuel Beckett.
46. "Any fool can turn a blind eye but who knows what the ostrich sees in the sand." - Samuel Beckett, 'Murphy.'
47. "To every man his little cross. Till he dies. And is forgotten." - Samuel Beckett.
48. "Dublin university contains the cream of Ireland: Rich and thick." - Samuel Beckett.
49. "Any fool can turn a blind eye but who knows what the ostrich sees in the sand." - Samuel Beckett.
50. "They never lynch children, babies, no matter what they do they are whitewashed in advance." - Samuel Beckett, 'The Expelled.'
51. "You must go on. I can't go on. I'll go on." - Samuel Beckett, 'The Unnamable.'
52. "In the landscape of extinction, precision is next to godliness." - Samuel Beckett.
53. "All mankind is us, whether we like it or not." - Samuel Beckett, 'Waiting for Godot'.
54. "Words are all we have." - Samuel Beckett.
55. "With all this darkness around me, I feel less alone." - Samuel Beckett, 'Krapp's Last Tape & Embers'.
Amazing Samuel Beckett Quotes
In this section, we have collected Samuel Beckett 'Waiting for Godot' quotes and all the other things that Irish playwright and novelist Samuel Beckett has to say. We have even listed some unique Samuel Beckett quotes on language and writing.
56. "Words are the clothes thoughts wear." - Samuel Beckett.
57. "I am still alive then. That may come in useful." - Samuel Beckett.
58. "Do we mean love, when we say love?" - Samuel Beckett.
59. "That desert of loneliness and recrimination that men call love." - Samuel Beckett.
60. "To think that in a moment all will be said, all to do again." - Samuel Beckett, 'The Calmative.'
61. "There’s the man all over for you, blaming on his boots the faults of his feet." - Samuel Beckett, 'Waiting for Godot.'
62. "Poets are the sense, philosophers the intelligence of humanity." - Samuel Beckett.
63. "Better hope deferred than none." - Samuel Beckett.
64. "Perhaps my best years are gone. When there was a chance of happiness. But I wouldn't want them back. Not with the fire in me now. No, I wouldn't want them back." - Samuel Beckett.
65. "They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it's night once more." - Samuel Beckett.
66. "It means what it says." - Samuel Beckett.
67. "To restore silence is the role of objects." - Samuel Beckett.
68. "Enough to know no knowing." - Samuel Beckett.
69. "How hideous is the semicolon." - Samuel Beckett.
70. "They didn’t say in so many words that I was as well as I would ever be, but that was the implication." - Samuel Beckett, 'The End.'
71. "The only sin is the sin of being born." - Samuel Beckett.
72. "Habit is a great deadener." - Samuel Beckett.
73. "Dance first. Think later. It's the natural order." - Samuel Beckett.
74. "Dear incomprehension, it's thanks to you I'll be myself, in the end." - Samuel Beckett, 'The Unnamable'.
75. "Tears and laughter, they are so much Gaelic to me." - Samuel Beckett.
76. "I do not feel like spending the rest of my life writing books that no one will read. It is not as though I wanted to write them." - Samuel Beckett.
77. "The creation of the world did not take place once and for all time, but takes place every day." - Samuel Beckett.
78. "No painting is more replete than Mondrian's." - Samuel Beckett.
79. "What do we do now, now that we are happy?" - Samuel Beckett.
80. "I played the part, you know, the part of — how shall I say, I don’t know." - Samuel Beckett, 'The End.'
81. "Nothing is more real than nothing." - Samuel Beckett, 'Malone Dies.'
82. "If I had the use of my body, I would throw it out the window." - Samuel Beckett.
83. "I love order. It's my dream. A world where all would be silent and still, and each thing in its last place, under the last dust." - Samuel Beckett, 'Endgame'.
84. "People are bloody ignorant apes." - Samuel Beckett, 'Waiting for Godot'.
85. "We are all born mad. Some remain so." - Samuel Beckett.
Sad Samuel Beckett Quotes
In this category, you will find Samuel Beckett 'Endgame' quotes and so much more. These Samuel Beckett quotes from the novelist playwright are meaningful yet also are quite sad and dark. Take a look at these Samuel Beckett quotes below.
86. "The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new." - Samuel Beckett, 'Murphy.'
87. "Yes, there were times when I forgot not only who I was but that I was, forgot to be." - Samuel Beckett.
88. "You cried for night - it falls. Now cry in darkness." - Samuel Beckett.
89. "Go on failing. Go on. Only next time, try to fail better." - Samuel Beckett.
90. "Don't wait to be hunted to hide, that's always been my motto." - Samuel Beckett, 'Molloy.'
91. "Ah, the old questions, the old answers, there's nothing like them!" - Samuel Beckett, 'Endgame.'
92. "It is rare that the feeling of absurdity is not followed by the feeling of necessity." - Samuel Beckett, 'Watt'.
93. "Don't look for meaning in the words. Listen to the silences." - Samuel Beckett.
94. "It was long since I had longed for anything and the effect on me was horrible." - Samuel Beckett.
95. "Better hope deferred than none." - Samuel Beckett.
96. "Personally of course I regret everything." - Samuel Beckett, 'Watt.'
97. "All I say cancels out, I'll have said nothing." - Samuel Beckett.
98. "I knew it would soon be the end, so I played the part, you know, the part of — how shall I say, I don’t know." - Samuel Beckett.
99. "What are we doing here, that is the question." - Samuel Beckett.
100. "What I assert, deny, question, in the present, I still can." - Samuel Beckett, 'Molloy.'
100 Samuel Beckett Quotes From The Irish Novelist And Playwright 10 V 2023.