By R. Federman, L. Graver
Samuel Beckett (1906-1989). Irish dramatist and poet. His use of the level and dramatic narrative and symbolism has revolutionalized drama in England.
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Extra resources for Beckett Samuel
22), that set off one of the liveliest literary controversies in years. Earlier critics had tended to treat ‘Godot’ as ritual rather than argument and implied that although the play certainly contained ideas no one idea was likely to contain the play. S. Fraser) claimed that there was one shaping idea: Didi and Gogo stood for the contemplative life and Beckett, offering religious consolation, had written a modern morality play on permanent Christian themes. The letters inspired by Fraser’s article (and by Ronald Gray’s on the same subject in the ‘Listener,’ 7 February 1957) testified to the remarkable impact of Beckett’s play and helped to establish the lines of future contention about how it should be perceived.
Valuable as single statements, these essays also demonstrated the challenges Beckett’s work offered to three very different critical perspectives. Pritchett’s Beckett is a manic monologist speaking from the depths of Irish rage and European disillusionment. His themes are old age, flight, decrepitude, and the needful, hopeless search for self; his manner mocking and earnest, innocent and sly, vindictive and forgiving, lyrical and indecent, frenzied and serene. His true ancestor was Sterne not Joyce, and like the author of ‘Tristram Shandy,’ he is a wayward comic genius soliloquizing about some of our deepest, most vexing concerns.
Federman and Mayoux said Yes to one, No to the other. Federman argued here (and later in ‘Journey to Chaos’) that simplicity, economy and strange absorbing power make ‘Comment c’est’ a triumph of art over dark reality. ’ In his characteristically ingenious and suggestive essay, Hugh Kenner (No. 52) was less apologetic. Coming at ‘Comment c’est’ by way of Newton, Wordsworth and Beckett’s other books, he found ‘a beautifully and tightly wrought structure,’ an ‘absolute sureness of design,’ and a richness of thematic implication that made the novel one of Beckett’s greatest achievements.
Beckett Samuel by R. Federman, L. Graver