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Samuel Beckett

Biography

Samuel Beckett is undoubtedly going to be more famous for his plays, particularly but not only Waiting for Godot. They are short, witty and black, painting a somewhat dismal picture of man’s condition. The novels are a different matter. Though they come from the Irish comic tradition, they soon become uniformly bleak and Beckett ends up painting himself and his prose fiction into a corner as the characters lose first any bodies, then their environment and, finally, they become meagre voices. There is nothing left to say. Is Beckett the most dismal voice of the century? There is certainly good reason to claim that.

Beckett was born in 1906, in a suburb of a Dublin. He studied Romance languages at Trinity College, Dublin. After teaching in Ireland for a while, he went to Paris, where he met James Joyce. He did not, as is often believed, work as Joyce’s secretary but he did fall in love with Joyce’s daughter. He also helped promote Joyce’s work, particularly in Our Exagmination Round His Factification for Incamination of Work In Progress, the first book published on Finnegan’s Wake. After returning to Trinity College to teach, he wandered around Europe, before settling in Paris. As an Irish citizen, he was able to remain in Paris during the war, but he did join the French resistance. He had to flee to unoccupied France when members of his group were caught by the Gestapo.

After the war, he returned to Paris and started serious writing – poetry, criticism, short stories, novels and plays. However, he had difficulty gtting anything published till 1951 Molloy (Molloy) was published with some success. However, it was only with the publication of Waiting for Godot that he had real success. He continued writing in a variety of media but remained a recluse, not even turning up to collect his Nobel Prize. He died in 1989.

Books about Samuel Beckett

(This is just a small selection of books on Beckett; there are many more. See some of the websites below for more.)
Deirdre Bair: Samuel Beckett: A Biography (standard biography)
Jennifer Birket tand Kate Ince (eds.): Samuel Beckett
Enoch Brater: The Essential Samuel Beckett: An Illustrated Biography
Enoch Brater: Why Beckett
John Calder: Beckett at 60
Anthony Cronin: Samuel Beckett: The Last Modernist
Raymond Federman and John Fletcher: Samuel Beckett: His Works and His Critics
Lois Gordon: The World of Samuel Beckett
Mel Gussow: Conversations With and About Beckett
Andrew Kennedy: Samuel Beckett
Hugh Kenner: A Reader’s Guide to Samuel Beckett
James Knowlson: Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett
Eoin O’Brien: The Beckett Country : Samuel Beckett’s Ireland

Other links

Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett: 1906-1989
Beckett, Samuel
The Samuel Beckett Endpage
The Unnamable Samuel Beckett
From Beckett to Stoppard: Existentialism, Death, and Absurdity
Samuel Beckett – selected criticism
Beckett’s Reading List
Fathoms from Anywhere (a Beckett exhibition)
Beckett International Foundation
Obituary

In French

Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett

Bibliography

(Note that Beckett wrote most but not all of his works in French and then translated them into English. The French title is given first only for those works originally written in French.)
1929 Our Exagmination Round His Factification for Incamination of Work In Progress (criticism) (contributor)
1929 Dante… Bruno. Vico… Joyce (criticism)
1933 More Pricks Than Kicks (stories)
1935 Echo’s Bones and Other Precipitates (poetry)
1938 Murphy (novel)
1949 Proust & 3 dialogues with Georges Duthuit (criticism)
1951 Molloy (Molloy) (novel)
1951 Malone Meurt (Malone Dies) (novel)
1952 En Attendant Godot (Waiting for Godot) (drama)
1953 L’innommable (The Unnamable) (novel)
1953 Watt (Watt) (novel)
1955 Nouvelles et textes pour rien (Stories and Texts for Nothing)
1957 Fin de partie (Endgame) (drama)
1957 All That Fall (radio drama)
1958 Bram van Velde (Bram van Velde) (art)
1958 From an Abandoned Work (radio drama)
1958 Acte sans paroles (Act without Words) (drama)
1959 Embers (radio drama)
1959 Henri Hayden (art)
1959 Krapp’s Last Tape (drama)
1961 Comment c’est (How It Is) (novel)
1961 Happy Days (drama)
1961 Poems in English
1961 Words and Music (radio drama)
1962 Cascando (radio drama)
1964 Imagination morte imaginez (Imagination Dead Imagine) (story)
1964 Play (drama)
1966 Bring (story)
1967 A Samuel Beckett Reader
1967 Come and Go (drama)
1967 Eh Joe and Other Writings (TV drama)
1967 Film
1967 No’s Knife: Collected Shorter Prose 1945-1966
1968 Cascando and Other Short Dramatic Pieces
1968 Poèmes
1970 The Collected Works of Samuel Beckett
1970 Le dépeupleur (The Lost Ones) (novella)
1970 Mercier et Camier (Mercier and Camier) (novel)
1970 Premier amour (First Love) (story)
1971 Breath and Other Shorts (drama)
1971 Théâtre
1973 Not I (drama)
1973 Esquisse radiophonique (Rough for Radio II) (radio drama)
1975 Footfalls (drama)
1975 Pochade radiophonique (Sketch for Radio Play; later: Rough for Radio I) (radio drama)
1976 All Strange Away (story)
1976 Ends and Odds: Eight New Dramatic Pieces
1976 I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On: a Selection from Samuel Beckett’s Work
1976 Pour finir encore et autres foirades (For to End Yet Again and Other Fizzles)
1976 That Time (drama)
1977 Collected Poems in English and French
1977 Four Novellas (First Love; The Expelled; The Calmative; The End)
1977 Pas (drama)
1977 Ends and Odds: Plays and Sketches
1979 Poèmes (Poems)
1980 Company (novella)
1980 The Expelled and Other Novellas
1980 A Piece of Monologue (drama)
1981 Rockaby and Other Short Pieces (drama)
1981 Mal vu mal dit (Ill Seen Ill Said) (novella)
1982 Catastrophe et autres dramaticules (Catastrophe) (drama)
1982 Three Occasional Pieces (A Piece of Monologue; Rockaby; Ohio Impromptu) (drama)
1983 Disjecta: Miscellaneous Writings and a Dramatic Fragment
1983 Quoi où (What Where) (drama)
1983 Worstward Ho (novella)
1984 Quad (drama)
1984 Collected Poems, 1930-1978
1984 Collected Shorter Plays
1984 Collected Shorter Prose, 1945-80
1984 Ohio Impromptu, Catastrophe, and What Where: Three Plays
1986 The Complete Dramatic Works
1988 L’image (The Image) (story)
1988 Nohow on (Company; I’ll Seen I’ll Said; Worstward Ho)
1988 Samuel Beckett: Teleplays
1988 Stirrings Still (story)
1988 Comment dire (What is the Word) (poetry)
1989 Le monde et le pantaloon (art)
1990 As the Story was Told: Uncollected and Late Prose
1992 Dream of Fair to Middling Women (novel)
1993 The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett
1995 Eleuthéria (Eleutheria) (drama)
1999 Beckett’s Dream Notebook
2009 Selected Poems 1930-1989
2012 Collected poems of Samuel Beckett
2014 Echo’s Bones