The writer—Samuel Beckett Biography: Samuel Beckett Samuel Beckett was born in Ireland in 1906. He graduated from Trinity College, Dublin, with majors in French and Italian. In 1928 he was appointed English lecturer at the famous Ecole Normale Supérieurein Paris, where he stayed until 1930. He returned to Ireland briefly to obtain his Masters degree, then travelled widely throughout Europe between 1932 and 1937, before making Paris his permanent home During World War II, Beckett became actively involved in the French resistance movement, until the arrest of several friends in 1942 obliged him to distance himself to escape Nazi detection. It was then that he moved to Vinchy and worked as a farm labourer. Back in Paris after the war, Beckett soon became part of a group of avant-garde artists, developing a close friendship with James Joyce. It was in 1952 that Beckett wrote the work that would bring him international acclaim, Waiting for Godot. However, it had an inauspicious beginning. The premiere in Paris in 1953 was in a tiny theatre and with a cast of university students. A student’s guide to the plays of Samuel Beckett(pp. 38–9) describes the initial reaction to the play: The reactions of the Paris audience were mixed but the play immediately gained distinguished supporters. Jean Anouilh saw the opening of Godot as being as important as the first production of a Pirandello play in Paris forty years earlier. Jacques Audiberti wrote in Artsof 16 January 1953 that Godotseemed, 'a perfect work which deserves triumph,' and Armand Salacrou claimed in the same magazine on 27 February that they had all been waiting 'for this play of our time.' … At its first London production, the play was treated with bafflement and derision by the daily paper, but two important reviews in the Sunday Timesand The Observer… started the flow of enthusiasm, speculation, and controversy that has surrounded Godot ever since. After the publication of the text by Faber in 1956, a review by GS Fraser in the Times Literary Supplementprovoked a correspondence lasting several weeks about the meaning of the play.
Although best known for his plays, Beckett worked in a variety of literary forms, including novel, short story, poetry, and film, radio and television scripts. That most of Beckett’s important works, including Waiting for Godot, were originally written in French is surely a testament to his outstanding literary ability. Beckett won the Nobel Prize for Literature at the age of 57, and died in his beloved Paris on 22 December 1989. Principal playsWaiting for Godot(in French 1952, in English 1954) Endgame(in French 1957, in English 1958) All That Fall(1957) Krapp’s Last Tape(in English 1959) Happy Days(in English 1961) About the play Waiting for Godotis often described as a play in which nothing happens, twice. No doubt any audience will have some sympathy for this assessment. The first and the second half of the play are remarkably similar and there is little if any dramatic movement.