Authors

Praise

“In Beckett’s fiction, every other word serves to snap the reader back to consciousness.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Beckett’s writings constitute probably the most significant body of work produced by a twentieth-century author, in that they’re taken to signify the greatest number of things. Beckett is the most prestigious writer around.” —Benjamin Kunkel, New Yorker

“Before nightfall, I had finished Molloy. I will not say I understood all I had read, but if there is such a thing as a shock of discover, I experienced it that day. The simplicity, the beauty, yes, and the terror of the words shook me as little had before or has since. And the man’s vision of the world, his painfully honest portrayal thereof, his anti-illusionist stance. And the humor; God, the humor . . . I waited a day or two, then reread Molloy, tempted to plunge into Malone but resisting the temptation as one resists the seductive sweet. The second reading was more exciting than the first. I went on to Malone. Fully worthy of the first. Two stunning works. Miracles.” —Richard Seaver

“Poet, novelist, short-story writer, playwright, translator, and critic, Samuel Beckett created one of the most brilliant and enduring bodies of work in twentieth-century literature. In celebration of the one hundredth anniversary of his birth, the four volumes of this new edition bring together nearly every word Beckett published during his lifetime. . . . Open anywhere and begin reading. It is an experience unequaled anywhere in the universe of words.” —Paul Auster

“I think there are perhaps four playwrights of the twentieth century that we could not have done without: Chekhov, Pirandello, Brecht and Beckett. I think if you’ve got those four, you’ve got the century covered.” —Edward Albee

“The farther he goes the more good it does me. I don’t want philosophies, tracts, dogmas, creeds, ways out, truths, answers, nothing from the bargain basement. He is the most courageous, remorseless writer going and the more he grinds my nose in the shit the more I am grateful to him. He’s not fucking me about, he’s not leading me up any garden path, he’s not slipping me a wink, he’s not flogging me a remedy or a path or a revelation or a basinful of breadcrumbs, he’s not selling me anything I don’t want to buy—he doesn’t give a bollock whether I buy or not—he hasn’t got his hand over his heart. Well, I’ll buy his goods, hook, line and sinker, because he leaves no stone unturned and no maggot lonely. He brings forth a body of beauty. His work is beautiful.” —Harold Pinter

“He made sense when nothing else did.” —Jim Harrison

“He represents perfectly one supreme pole of the art of writing.” —William Gass

“Beckett is one of the most positive writers alive. Behind all his mournful blasphemies against man there is real love. And he is genuine: every sentence is written as if it had been lived.” —The New York Times Book Review

“[Beckett] never set out to be a revolutionary but rather to investigate the particular advantages of theater for his characteristic meditations on being, dubious presence, seriocomic desolation and the artistic imperative to ‘fail again, fail better.’ In the process, though, he ended up turning the theater world—famously liberal politically yet notoriously conservative regarding received forms—on its head.” —Jonathan Kalb, The New York Times

“[Beckett] is an incomparable spellbinder . . . a serious writer with something serious to say about the human condition.” —The New York Times

“Sly and liquored-up even if he wasn’t; and walking a tight rope from sense to nonsense and back, pausing along the way for balance with a joke in one hand and dread weighing on the other, then moving on toward sense, or maybe nonsense, who could tell—and all the while wearing baggy clothes and sneaking up on that space where language is hex and incantation transforming itself, primarily, along with some who behold it, as it leaves description and even evocation behind and strains toward becoming being. Forever in awe of Joyce.” —David Rabe

“He is perhaps the purest writer who has ever written. There is nothing there but the writing itself.” —William Burroughs, from The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Summer 1987, Vol. VII, No. 2

“If there are two artists who have provided a lifelong compass it would be Beckett and Bach. Both are noted for their severity of line, the dry, surface, but underneath there’s a volcano, there’s lava.” —Anthony Minghella, Beckett Remembering Remembering Beckett, Arcade, 2006

“There’s stuff I’ve written I can’t bear to watch. They get rotten like fruit and the softest get rotten first. They’re not like ashtrays. You make and ashtray and come back next year and it’s the same ashtray. Beckett and Pinter have a lot more chance of writing ashtrays because they’ve thrown out all the potentially soft stuff. I think Beckett has redefined the minima of what theatre could be. . . . In 1956 when Waiting for Godot was done in Bristol, Peter O’Toole was in the company. I was immobilized for weeks after I saw it. Historically, people had assumed that in order to have a valid theatrical event you had to have x. Beckett did it with x minus 5. And it was intensely theatrical. He’s now doing it with x minus 25. I think Pinter did something equally important and significant. He changed the ground rules.” —Tom Stoppard, from Mel Gussow, Conversations with Stoppard (Grove Press, 1996)

“What makes Beckett so consistently engaging, what makes him so clearly a ‘great writer,’ is the fact that his language is absolutely embedded in his vision of the world; and his world view, absolutely inseparable from his style.” —Paul Auster, Saturday Review, April 30th, 1977.

“Reading Beckett for the first time is an experience like no other in modern literature.” —Paul Auster, Saturday Review

“It is in the vaudeville aspect that his exuberance gleams, and it is his exuberance— even the exuberance of his despair—that endears an author to us, far more even than his message.” —Arthur Miller

“A lot of trouble [in understanding him] begins with a failure to place Samuel Beckett in his tradition: in spirit he belongs with Petronius, Rabelais, Cervantes, Nashe, Burton, and Sterne. As with the latter, admiration or loathing of him is an indication of whether the reader is really interested in the novel as a form, or merely in being told a story. Thus to try to understand Beckett in terms of ‘the great tradition’ or of a main contemporary one which would include Graham Greene, Iris Murdoch, and Elias Canetti, for example, is as useless as to try to compare Tristram Shandy with Clarissa Harlowe.” —B.S. Johnson, The Spectator, 23 November 1962

“Generosity, humor, intelligence, superb erudition. It didn’t matter what came up, he knew it all. An elephant’s memory, he said of himself. He pursued his work right up to the end, trying to remove all trace of rhetoric, until he reached the threshold of silence with Stirrings Still. As for his despair, it was the very mainspring of his art. ‘Hold tight to your despair and make it sing for us’, he wrote to me when we were just getting to be friends. His despair hid something which he wanted to keep forever quite and which had to do with his great compassion for hum suffering. He expressed it in such a way that everyone can interpret it as he sees fit. Open revolt or humble submission. That paradox was and remains his noblest and best-kept secret.” —Robert Pinget, from Eonta I, 1991

“He has the reputation of being austere and hermetic, but those who have met him always attest to the mildness of courtesy of the man. On his face, though, you see evidence that must have wrestled for every second of its waking life with the cruelty, crassness and barbarity of mankind.” —Edna O’Brien, from the Sunday Times Magazine, 6 April 1986

“Beckett at his finest seems to have the power of casting a stage picture, a stage relationship, a stage machine from his most intense experiences that in a flash, inspired, exists, stands there complete in itself, not telling, not dictating, symbolic without symbolism. For Beckett’s symbols are powerful just because we cannot quite grasp them: they are not signposts, they are not textbooks nor blueprints—they are literally creations. —Peter Brook, from The Shifting Point: Forty Years of Theatrical Exploration 1946-1987 (Methuen, 1988)

“Beckett is an incomparable spellbinder. He writes with a rhetoric and music that makes a poet green with envy. —Stephen Spender

“One especially memorable experience for me was working on Samuel Beckett’s Play . . . I found, during my many viewings, that I experienced the work differently on almost every occasion. Specifically, I noticed that the emotional quickening (or epiphany) of the work seemed to occur in a different place in each performance— in spite of the fact that all the performance elements such as light, music and words were completely set. This puzzled me. It also made me extremely curious, since traditional theater ‘works’ quite differently . . . One might say that a classical or traditional play is a machine built in a specific way to make the emotional peak always happen in the places the author intended . . . It occurred to me then that the emotion of Beckett’s theater did not reside in the piece in a way that allowed a complicated process of identification to trigger response . . . . Beckett’s Play doesn’t exist separately from its relationship to the viewer, who is included as part of the play’s content. This is the mechanism we mean when we say the audience ‘completes’ the work. The invention, or innovation, of Beckett’s Play is that it includes us, the audience, in a different way than does the traditional theater. Instead of submitting us to an internal mechanism within the work, it allows us, by our presence, to relate to it, complete it and personalize it. The power of the work is directly proportional to the degree to which we succeeded in personalizing it. —Philip Glass, Music, (De Capo Press, 1995)

“Beckett’s voices, now mocking, now doubting, always carry their own special lyricism . . . And perhaps to understand Beckett’s sullen craft and art fully, it is best to recall that age during which all human voices almost automatically speak poetry—childhood . . . And like the child, too, in his awful ambivalence, [Beckett] is beyond—and before—judgment, so close does he tread on that nether world between creation and destruction.” —Time

“One of the supreme masters of the English language . . . His genius has never been inclusive of wide ranging . . . it is like a laser—narrow, intense, continually probing.” —A. Alvarez, Sunday Times

“An important thing to remember about Beckett is that he is one of the funniest of modern writers.” —Derek Mahon, Observer

“His greatest genius resides in the prose of his middle and late years in that unique, insistent, wise, funny excoriating voice that never quite despairs and never gives up.” —John Walsh, Books and Bookmen

“There’s a sort of comfort in the dry, bare language, in the spooky imagery and the incantatory repetitions.” —Howard Kinlay, Irish Times

“A reverberate, throwaway brilliance, impassioned and impatient.” —Alan Jenkins, Encounter

“Beckett’s oeuvre towers above that most of his peers, as of his forebears and followers, because it’s such a model of integrity: the beauty that is truth.” —Michael Horowitz, Spectator

“His voice is both mellifluous and metallic, his sentences are careful and beautiful.” —Hugh Kenner, Irish Times

“We are really only concerned with the best, that is with the work of genius . . . The truth about Beckett is that he stands in danger of becoming the patron saint of modern writers.” —Robert Nye

“A step forward is the best possible medium for Beckett’s vision—the grim humor Iphigenia in Tauris, Lear, Machiavelli’s Mandragola and Jonson’s Volpone.” —Kenneth Rexroth

“I could show you a Beckett sentence as elegant in it’s implications as the binomial theorem, and another as economically sphinx-like as the square root of minus one, and another, on trees in the night, for which half of Wordsworth would seem a fair exchange. The declarative sentence, he makes you suppose, is perhaps man’s highest achievement, as absolute as the egg was for Brancusi.” —The New York Times Book Review

“Samuel Beckett shows us a mystery outside the grasp of any other dramatist. The feeling Beckett expresses on the stage is a note heard nowhere else in contemporary drama.” —The Sunday Times
(London)

“It is his remarkable ability to mix beauty, imagination, vitality and wry humor that transforms Beckett from a mere dispenser of meaningless gloom into a dramatic poet.” —New York Post

“[Beckett’s work is a] continual search for a special type of perfection, a perfection manifest in his unfailing stylistic control and economy of language, his remorseless stripping away of superfluidities.” —A. Alvarez

“Beckett is one of the most positive writers alive. Behind all his mournful blasphemies against man there is real love. And he is genuine: every sentence is written as if it had been lived.” —New York Times Book Review

“Beckett possesses fierce intellectual honesty, and his prose has a bare, involuted rhythm that is almost hypnotic.” —Time

“In love with the aside, the tangential comment, the footnote and the mathematical calculation . . . Beckett has fashioned a vehicle for himself in drama and prose that allows him to be romantic and irreverent at one and the same instant.” —The New Republic

“Beckett reduces life, perception and writing to barest minimums: a few dimly seen, struggling torsos; a hopeless intelligence compulsively seeking to come to terms, in rudimentary yet endlessly varied language, with the human condition they represent. Within these extraordinary limitations, Beckett’s verbal ability nonetheless generates great intensity.” —Library Journal

“Beckett stalks after men on their way out . . . His plays (Endgame, Krapp’s Last Tape) and novels (Molloy, Murphy) are metaphors of modern man’s spiritual bafflement . . . in spite of the hints of movement . . . all is really paralytic stasis—except for the voices the indomitable voices.” —Time

Question: Among your contemporaries whom do you consider the best dramatist in France? Answer: Samuel Beckett. We see each other rarely, but we’re good friends. Beckett is a fine fellow. He lives in the country with his wife, but we see each other when he comes in, at the theatre, in cafés, in brasseries. We don’t talk about anything much. He is a very generous man, very loyal. Those are rare qualities. I was told that for a long time his principal preoccupation was to play chess with himself.” —Eugene Ionesco, from The Playwrights Speak, ed. Walter Wagner, London/Harlow, Longmans, Green and Co. 1969

“It seems self-evident to me that Beckett is the most significant writer of the twentieth century: he represents the culmination of the achievements of his three most important predecessors, Proust, Kafka and Joyce.” —John Calder, from The Philosophy of Samuel Beckett, London, Calder Books. 2001

“Now that its influence has begun to wane, and it ceases to remind us of its imitations, we can again see the most influential play of the second half of the 20th century for what it is. Waiting for Godot has lost none of its power to astonish and to move, but it no longer seems self-consciously experimental or obscure. With unerring economy and surgical precision, the play puts the human animal on stage in all his naked loneliness. Like the absolute masterpiece it is, it seems to speak directly to us, to our lives, to our situation, while at the same time appearing to belong to a distant, perhaps a non-existent, past.” —Simon Callow, The Guardian, July 25th, 2005

“Godot is written with great rigour and definition. Beckett creates an amazing blend of comedy, high wit and an almost unbearable poignancy in a funny yet heartbreaking image of man’s fate. With the camera, you can pick those moments and emphasize them making Beckett’s rare and extraordinary words all the more intimate.” —Michael Lindsay-Hogg, on Waiting for Godot, from Beckett on Film

“There are as many reasons to make a film of Not I, among them—despite the theatrical nature of the piece, the startling image at the heart of it, as isolated mouth . . . So, with Julianne Moore and Roger Pratt we filmed each angle in long, complete, thirteen minute takes since the piece only reveals itself through the pressure of performance, through the demands Beckett makes on the breath, the voice, the mouth, the brain.” —Neil Jordan, on Not I, from Beckett on Film

“I have always admired Beckett’s work having seen many of the plays and read all his novels. I was quite daunted at the prospect of filming one of the plays but when I read Rough for Theatre I I immediately saw the cinematic possibilities. It reminded me a little of Laurel and Hardy, so I shot it on location Street Corner Day in black and white. This play is like a sketch for Endgame. The dialogue is brilliant and succinct and the themes are fresh and immediate.” —Kieron J. Walsh, on Rough For Theatre I, from Beckett on Film

“Film as a medium extends the idea of the play. Beckett is a remover of anything that might misdirect the audience. He takes everything out except the absolute essentials in order to produce the purest, simplest line of though. Ohio Impromptu captures that universally human emotion of losing the one you love the most and expresses it in its purest and most terrifying form.” —Charles Sturridge, Ohio Impromptu, from Beckett on Film

“I am fascinated by human interaction with technology. Beckett explores the contrast between memory and recorded memory as Krapp reminisces on his birthday struggling to reconcile perception and reality. Technology is an enormous issue today so Beckett’s themes are hugely relevant. The human inability to communicate in reality is brought into sharp focus.” —Atom Egoyan, on Krapp’s Last Tape , from Beckett on Film

“Filming Beckett’s work allows people to learn something different and that’s what made this project so worth doing. Beckett was deliberately ambiguous so you dig to find your own relevancies. Good art is open to interpretation. What Where is about the abuse of power and there is a brooding palpable evil throughout the text. Filming allows you to show a close-up of a terrified man, bringing a different edge to the work.” —Damien O’Donnell, on What Where, from Beckett on Film

“I filmed Come and Go in a way that is suggestive of a hand tinted portrait photograph from the turn of the last century. This was in response to the formality and elegance of the play and to Beckett’s uncharacteristic use of bold colour in the costumes. Consistent with this, each entrance and exit is rendered by means of a dissolve effect as if each character had momentarily faded into the background and then reappeared.” —John Crowley, on Come and Go, from Beckett on Film

“It was an intriguing challenge to film a Beckett play. You have to rethink and re-feel everything but it was a nice problem! I showed Act Without Words I because of the clever use of the artifice of theatre and the way Beckett intermingles humour and pathos.” —Karel Reisz, on Act Without Words I, from Beckett on Film

“I wanted to make Happy Days because, well, it’s so happy. The sizzling boy/girl interplay between that cheerful sociality and her strong silent type, their crazy antics not to mention that startling flip flop ending—it all adds up to a must see movie. And as theatre and no movie personality Samuel Beckett confided at a L.A. hot spot recently, ‘It gave people the chance to really like me.’” —Patricia Rozema, Happy Days

“Beckett has that rare ability to capture our fleeting perceptions of the ridiculous and the despairing in a very taut form. We need a mirror to reflect our darker selves back to us and he is one of the few people who can do that. Film is an extraordinary medium which potentially allows you an increased palette with which to communicate this.” —Katie Mitchell, on Rough for Theatre II, from Beckett on Film

“When I was asked to direct this film, I read the text and thought it was incredibly precise and strict. While preparing to shoot, I kept reading the text over and over and what really focused me was Beckett’s direction to ‘hold for about five seconds.’ That was when I realized that Beckett had this massive sense of humor.” —Damien Hirst, on Breath, from Beckett on Film

“The choice of camera movements and the changes in picture size are subjective responses to the text . . . the performer is the channel for Beckett’s deluge of images . . . audiences have said that they were able to see the thoughts in his (the performer’s) mind as they watched and I hope this is the reaction that we have managed to provoke with the film.” —Charles Garrad, on That Time, from Beckett on Film

“It shows that Beckett had a sense of humor and liked to entertain the public. Hopefully, this will demystify Beckett’s reputation for being hard going. I just wanted to make sure it was funny because, if it was funny, it could be understood. It’s a comedy, a bittersweet comedy.” —Conor McPherson, on Endgame, from Beckett on Film

“Beckett was so concerned with form that I think he would have employed the mechanics of film in the same inventive way that he employed lighting and the stage itself, as presences, even characters in the drama. That’s what I wanted to try and do myself.” —Enda Hughes, on Act Without Words II, from Beckett on Film

“Beckett burns images on your brain in the time it takes to make a sandwich.” —Robin Lefevre, on A Piece of Monologue, from Beckett on Film

“My unfinished doctoral thesis was on Beckett. Play was the first play I ever directed, in a double bill with Happy Days. There was a time when I read Beckett almost on a daily basis. The sense of language and poetry in his writing has been the single biggest influence on me.” —Anthony Minghella, on Play, from Beckett on Film

“A woman sits at a window in a rocking chair, rocking to and fro, talking to herself. Is she mad, is she senile? Occasionally she speaks out loud. ‘Fuck life’ she says at the end, and stops moving. Is she dead? Rockaby belongs to the same universe as all Beckett’s work. It’s drawn from a same single, stern perspective, and has characteristic taut musicality, clarity, and ability to give small shocks. It’s like an incantation set in language that’s both odd and commonplace, with silence as an eloquent partner and the rocking of the chair as muted percussion. Is it less Beckett if it’s a film than if it’s fourteen minutes on a stage with a live audience? The real question is: does it hold your attention? I think so.” —Richard Eyre, on Rockaby, from Beckett on Film

“It is in the vaudeville aspect that his exuberance gleams, and it is his exuberance—even the exuberance of his despair—that endears an author to us, far more even than his message.” —Arthur Miller The New Theater Review, vol 1. number 4 winter 1988 ed. by Laura Jones, John Guare. A Lincoln Center Theatre Publication.

“To be in communication with a mind of such merciless integrity, of such uncompromising determination to face the stark reality of the human situation and to confront the worst without even being in danger of yielding to any of the superficial consolations that have clouded man’s self awareness in the past; to be in contact with a human being utterly free of self-pity, utterly oblivious to the pitfalls of vanity or self-glorification, even that most venial complacency of all, the illusion of being able to lighten one’s anguish by sharing it with others; to see a lone figure, without hope of comfort, facing the great emptiness of space and time without the possibility of miraculous rescue or salvation, in dignity, resolved to fulfill its obligation to express its own predicament—to partake of such courage and noble stoicism, however remotely, cannot but evoke a feeling of emotional excitement, exhilaration.” —Martin Esslin

“If you can overcome vertigo, you can laugh. Beckett makes me laugh the same way Gombrowitz, Shultz and Genet make me laugh, with a sort of laughter born of the sudden eruption of a paradox into my seemingly rational world. This isn’t the full ha-ha of Rabelais or the hysterical giggle of Ionesco. Laughing with Beckett you laugh on the edge, the shadow of the gallows on your face.” —Andrei Codrescu

“Beckett lived as intensely as his work is intense. Art can make nothing better, but it passes the time better than doing nothing, as all work does, and the artist, creates art because he cannot stop himself: it is an obligation without meaning, a compulsion that cannot be resisted. Beckett worked in a void that he constantly filled with new ways of seeing things, of imaginatively stating what was obvious to him, but not to others until they encountered the result, nearly always with shock. He used all the things he did not believe in, the Christian God of the Bible, taking the dogma mock-seriously in a playful way to expose the absurdities. There is much amusement to be derived from the tongue-in-cheek humour and the irreverence behind his portrayal of the reverent, especially in the late prose texts.” —John Calder from The Observer, Aug. 29th, 1999

Waiting for Godot belongs to no school; it will make one.” —A.J. Leventhal, Dublin Magazine

“Beckett distinguishes himself from the triflers. His characters’ situations may be a cliché, but their pain is real, sent out to us in speeches as exquisitely shaped as Mozart arias, and hammered home by the trios persisting in their obsession in the face of eternity, the spotlight that flickers from one begrimed face to the next, waiting for the shock of recognition that will never strike these three people.” —Michael Feingold, The Village Voice, December 20, 1976. review of Play, That Time, and Footfalls

“Some critics think of Beckett’s later plays as self-parody. Actually they are essences—exercises in purification and distillation. As he [grew] older . . . his words became more sparse. He [was] more demanding on himself and on language.” —Mel Gussow, Newsday,  January 2nd, 1977

“On stage Beckett’s experimentation with the plasticity of form is far more accessible than any discussion of it would seem to imply. At once sensational and intimate, empty but filled with implication, deserted yet filled with mysterious panic, each of the plays collected in Ends and Odds is simultaneously exacting and vague . . . The energy of this drama is not to be found in the verisimilitude of the action Beckett demonstrates on stage, but rather in the communicative force of the reality of that action itself.” —Enoch Brater, The New Republic, March 5th, 1977

“No other playwright has his intuitions of the timeless emptiness that eventually swallows up all human endeavor . . . They are most certainly a testament to his courage.” —David Richards, The Washington Star. Dec. 9, 1976.

“Samuel Beckett is sui generis . . . He has given a voice to the decrepit and maimed and inarticulate, men and women at the end of their tether, past pose or pretense, past claim of meaningful existence. He seems to say that only there and then, as metabolism lowers, amid God’s paucity, not his plenty, can the core of the human condition be approached . . . Yet his musical cadences, his wrought and precise sentences, cannot help but stave off the void . . . Like salamanders we survive in his fire.” —Richard Ellman

“Beckett is a great writer of an age which has dilated longevity till it is as much a nightmare as a blessing; an age of intense geriatric tending, at one with indiscriminate contempt for the uselessness of age (from the parent King Lear’s `Age is unnecessary’ to the parents in the ash cans); an age which now finds one of its most urgent anxieties—for doctors, theologians, philosophers, relatives—to be the definition of death. All of these things, the most mundane and unignorable of metaphysics, are the living tissue of Beckett’s writing . . .” —Christopher Ricks, “Beckett First and Last,” in The New York Review of Books

“I do not know what Beckett thinks of women, but I know that he understands them profoundly from the inside. If his plays manage to affect us and move us )and if they did not succeed in invading our sensitivities they would not be played throughout the entire world), it is because Beckett, in spite of his modesty, manages to express his immense compassion for all human life and because he is one of those exceptional men to whom love and lucidity are on the same level.” —Madeline Renaud

“Perhaps Beckett will be followed by authors, akin to him, who will go beyond Kafka and Joyce. It makes little difference. For his time, which is our time, his work is of prime importance.” —Claude Mauriac, “Samuel Beckett,” in his The New Literature, trans. by Samuel I. Stone, George Braziller, Inc. 1959

“Beckett, almost beyond dispute, is the seminal playwright of our time, and, though less markedly and less exclusively, the progenitor of many of the more significant innovations in the novel. Although he may not be the greatest writer, or even the greatest playwright of our time—I am inclined to think he is not—he is quite likely the most important, the man who opened the door to endless possibilities.” —Catherine Hughes, “The Paradox of Samuel Beckett,” in Catholic World, April 1970

“The degradation of humanity is a recurrent theme in Beckett’s writing and to this extent, his philosophy, simply accentuated by elements of the grotesque and of tragic farce, can be described as a negativism that cannot desist from descending to the depths. To the depths it must go because it is only there that pessimistic thought and poetry can work their miracles. . . . Part of the essence of Beckett’s outlook is to be found here—in the difference between an easily-acquired pessimism that rests content with untroubled skepticism, and a pessimism that is dearly bought and which penetrates to mankind’s utter destitution. The former commences and concludes with the concept that nothing is really of any value, the latter is based on exactly the opposite outlook. For what is worthless cannot be degraded. The perception of human degradation—which we have witnessed, perhaps, to a greater extent than any previous generation—is not possible if human values are denied. But the experience becomes all the more painful as the recognition of human dignity deepens. This is the source of inner cleansing, the life force nevertheless, in Beckett’s pessimism. It houses a love of mankind that grows in understanding as it plumbs further into the depths of abhorrence, a despair that has to reach the utmost bounds of suffering to discover that compassion has no bounds. From that position, in the realms of annihilation, rises the writing of Samuel Beckett like a miserere from all mankind, its muffled minor key sounding liberation to the oppressed, and comfort to those in need.” —from the Nobel Prize in Literature 1969 presentation speech by Dr. Karl Ragnar Gierow of the Swedish Academy

Books By Samuel Beckett