There is now no doubt that not only is Waiting for Godot the outstanding play of the 20th century, but it is also Samuel Beckett's masterpiece. Yet it is both a popular text to be studied at school and an enigma. The scene is a country road. There is a solitary tree. It is evening. Two tramp-like figures, Vladimir and Estragon, exchange words. Pull off boots. Munch a root vegetable. Two other curious characters enter. And a boy. Time passes. It is all strange yet familiar.
"Godot is here"
Written initially in French, later translated by the author into English, Molloy is the first book in Dublin-born Samuel Beckett's trilogy. It was published shortly after WWII and marked a new, mature writing style, which was to dominate the remainder of his working life. Molloy is less a novel than a set of two monologues narrated by Molloy and his pursuer, Moran.
"Nauseating, boring, hilarious, and magnificent"
'The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.' So opens Murphy, Samuel Beckett's first novel, published in 1938. Its work-shy eponymous hero, adrift in London, realises that desire can never be satisfied and withdraws from life, in search of stupor. Murphy's lovestruck fiancée, Celia, tries with tragic pathos to draw him back, but her attempts are doomed to failure. In Dublin, Murphy's friends and familiars are simulacra of him, fragmented and incomplete. They come to London in search of him.
How It Is, a landmark in 20th century literature, is one of the most challenging of Samuel Beckett's early novels. He published it first in French in 1961 and then in his own translation in 1964. He explained in a letter that it was the outpouring of a "'man' lying panting in the mud and dark murmuring his 'life' as he hears it obscurely uttered by a voice inside him.... The noise of his panting fills his ears and it is only when this abates that he can catch and murmur forth a fragment of what is being stated within...."
In this stunning first novel, Belacqua - a young version of Molloy, whose love is divided between two women, Smeraldina-Rima and Alba - "wrestles with his lusts and learning across vocabularies and continents, before a final 'relapse into Dublin'" (New Yorker). Youthfully exuberant and visibly influenced by Joyce, Dream of Fair to Middling Women is a work of extraordinary virtuosity. Beckett delights in the wordplay and sheer joy of language that mark his later work.
Watt tells the tale of Mr Knott's servant and his attempts to get to know his master. Watt's mistake is to derive the essence of his master from the accidentals of his being, and his painstakingly logical attempts to 'know' ultimately consign him to the asylum. Itself a critique of error, Watt has previously appeared in editions that are littered with mistakes, both major and minor.
The Unnamable is the third novel in Beckett's trilogy, three remarkable prose works in which men of increasingly debilitating physical circumstances act, ponder, consider and rage against impermanence and the human condition. The Unnamable is without doubt the most uncompromising text and it is read here in startling fashion by Sean Barrett.
"Best narration I have ever heard"
These four works show Samuel Beckett at his most penetrating. Both Krapp's Last Tape (1958) and Not I (1972) are among the most striking pieces written for the theatre in the 20th century. An old man sits at a table, playing back old tapes made when he was younger, mixed glimpses of past feelings. In Not I, we have just a mouth expressing memories and torment in a torrent of words.
Malone Dies is the first person monologue of Malone, an old man lying in bed and waiting to die. The tone is fiercely ironic, highly quotable, and because of its extravagance, also very comic. It catches the reality of old age in a way that is grimly convincing, cruel as humor so often is, and memorable because of Beckett's way with words. A master dramatist, Beckett's novels can be even more effective when heard, and especially when read by such a Beckett specialist as Sean Barrett.
Die beiden Freunde Mercier und Camier wollen sich gemeinsam auf eine Reise begeben. Nur mit dem nötigsten Gepäck beladen, wandern sie eines Morgens aus der Stadt. Doch statt sich stetig von ihrem Ausgangspunkt zu entfernen, kehren die beiden wieder und wieder in die Stadt zurück. So sinnlos die Reise der beiden Vagabunden auch erscheinen mag - unaufhörlich plaudernd und in teils absurde Diskussionen vertieft, vergeht die Zeit für Mercier und Camier wie im Flug.
Cette nouvelle de Beckett, auteur bilingue, est publié en 1946, époque où l'auteur revendique des références allant de Joyce à Dante ou encore Proust. Une écriture simple et précise est un portrait de l'homme moderne.
Zwei Landstreicher auf einer ziellosen Reise und auf der Suche nach dem Ungewissen, dem Unfassbaren, das sie nicht erreichen können. Sie ziehen los und kehren immer wieder an den Ausgangsort zurück, drehen sich im Kreis und verfehlen unaufhörlich ihr unbekanntes Ziel. Samuel Becketts Roman wird in diesem Hörspiel hervorragend adaptiert vom Schauspielduo Otto Sander und Peter Fitz, die zwanzig Jahre lang mit dem Stück durch die Schweiz, Deutschland und Österreich tourten.