“Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.” Samuel Beckett
Who was Samuel Beckett?
Samuel Barclay Beckett (1906 – 1989) was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet, who lived in Paris for most of his adult life and wrote in both English and French. He is widely regarded as among the most influential writers of the 20th century.
Beckett’s work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human existence, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour, and became increasingly minimalist in his later career. He is considered one of the last modernist writers, and one of the key figures in what Martin Esslin called the “Theatre of the Absurd”. Beckett was awarded the 1969 Nobel Prize in Literature “for his writing, which—in new forms for the novel and drama—in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation.” He was elected Saoi of Aosdána in 1984.
Beckett’s career as a writer can be roughly divided into three periods: his early works, up until the end of World War II in 1945; his middle period, stretching from 1945 until the early 1960s, during which period he wrote what are probably his best-known works; and his late period, from the early 1960s until Beckett’s death in 1989, during which his works tended to become shorter and his style more minimalist.
Of all the English-language modernists, Beckett’s work represents the most sustained attack on the realist tradition. He opened up the possibility of theatre and fiction that dispense with conventional plot and the unities of time and place in order to focus on essential components of the human condition. Václav Havel, John Banville, Aidan Higgins, Tom Stoppard, Harold Pinter and Jon Fosse have publicly stated their indebtedness to Beckett’s example. He has had a wider influence on experimental writing since the 1950s, from the Beat generation to the happenings of the 1960s and after. In an Irish context, he has exerted great influence on poets such as Derek Mahon and Thomas Kinsella, as well as writers like Trevor Joyce and Catherine Walsh who proclaim their adherence to the modernist tradition as an alternative to the dominant realist mainstream.
Text: Wikipedia contributors. “Samuel Beckett.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 12 Aug. 2017. Web. 12 Aug. 2017.