Samuel Beckett - Biography and Works

Samuel Beckett (1906 –1989) was born in Dublin. He belonged to an upper-middle class Protestant family. He completed his school and university education in Dublin. While living in Dublin he had developed his intimacy with the French and the Italian languages.

Samuel Beckett

This acquaintance of his with alien languages like French and Italian enabled him to read and write in French. In his early youth Samuel Beckett was torn between two literary cultures: Irish and Anglo-Irish. He was in a dilemma to choose either literary culture. Between 1920 to 1930 most of the literary energy in Ireland was split between the essentially conservative Anglo-Irish protestants such as William Butler Yeats and Lady Gregory – and the more avant-garde Catholics such as James Joyce. Samuel Beckett chose the avant-garde Catholics namely James Joyce.

Samuel Beckett had been feeling handicapped to pursue his creativity in Ireland. He felt very difficult to breathe a fresh air of creative while living in Dublin. The cruelty of homeland had been tormenting him. He was in search for a right moment to leave Ireland in his hot quest of an original exercise in creativity. When the right moment to bid farewell to Ireland came, Beckett left Ireland for Paris. He exchanged Dublin to Paris for creativity. In Paris Beckett drew inspiration from Janes Joyce. He read the most popular existential philosophers Sartre and Eugene Ionesco. The philosophy of existentialism profoundly influenced Beckett. At the Beginning of his life in Paris Beckett wrote poetry and prose. With the publication of his Waiting for Godot he gained an immense reputation. His fame soared very high because of his novel trilogy written in the late 40s and 50s: Molloy, Malone Dies and The Unnamable.

Just before the year the World War Second, broke out Beckett published a novel with a distinctly recognizable theme. This novel projected Beckett from the bottom line of Irish anonymity. This novel is Murphy (1938). Murphy dramatizes the themes of economic impoverishment, alienation, inward meditation and spiritual complexity. Waiting for Godot is the masterpiece of Samuel Beckett. Any serious talk about Samuel Beckett remains incomplete if we do not talk about Waiting or GodotWaiting for Godot is repetitive, whimsical and, sometimes nonsensical style established the play as a major postwar treatment. In a barren setting, Vladimir and Estragon, two tramps who echo the comic vision of Charlie Chaplin, wait for Godot to come. They amuse themselves by doing Vaudeville routines, but their loneliness and isolation is painfully apparent to the audience. Beckett’s Endgame (1957) thematizes the end of the world. In the mature period of his life Beckett experimented with minimalist approaches to drama exemplified in Act without words I and Act without words II.

Literary Spotlight

Murphy (Fiction)

Endgame (Drama)

Waiting for the Godot (Play)