Samuel Beckett World Literature Analysis
“I can’t go on, I’ll go on.” Those last words of L’Innommable (1953; The Unnamable, 1958), the final volume of The Trilogy, tend to summarize the author’s mature output both in prose fiction and in drama, in which human life and aspirations are reduced to bare essentials; in the short novel Comment c’est (1961; How It Is, 1964), two characters, presumably the last remnant of the human species, crawl toward each other through mud, subsisting on a diet of canned sardines left behind by a now-vanished civilization. In the memorable “Fin de partie,” suivi de “Acte sans paroles” (pr., pb. 1957; Endgame: A Play in One Act; Followed by Act Without Words: A Mime for One Player, 1958), a Beckettian mime tries all possible human options, including suicide, only to end in apathy, waiting—for what? It is perhaps no accident that Beckett’s creative “breakthrough” came in midlife with the first performances (in Paris) of Waiting for Godot, a visible illustration, three-dimensional when staged, of the “waiting” that, in Beckett’s developing vision, was characteristic of all human life. Is all of humanity, as one of his characters would later say in Endgame, waiting for “it,” meaning life, to end? If not, then what is humankind awaiting?
Born with the verbal instincts of the traditional Irish poet, Beckett defined himself early in life as a...
(The entire section is 3775 words.)
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