NOTE: this is part of my series on alternative ways of celebrating the Irish on Saint Patrick's Day: check archives or click here for more information.
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Samuel Barclay Beckett
April 13, 1906–December 22, 1989
April 13, 1906–December 22, 1989
Yeats is the great poet, Wilde and Shaw are the great wits, Joyce is the brilliant literary stylist: the greatest shapeshifter of the English language. Joyce's writing is lush. Beckett's work is hungry. Beckett is the philosopher--or anti-philosopher. He is the most profound. He is the most intellectually challenging. He is challenging not only in his style and content but in the darkness of his vision. He is also the greatest comic writer of them all. Like all great Irish writers he is capable of all types of humor from wordplay and punning to the bawdy and utterly scatalogical. But no other writer than perhaps Kafka sees the comic so intimately tied to despair. He is not despairing but he is pitiless. Beckett refuses to provide the kind of sustenance we often want from literature but he gives us something in that refusal. I don't know how I'd survive without him.
Samuel Beckett On-Line Resources
This site has most thorough list of online links to resources including writings by Beckett available online : Links to on-line texts by Samuel Beckett
Maintained by collaborators Tim Conley and Allen Ruch Apmonia is the Web's largest and most comprehensive general resource site for Samuel Beckett.
The Samuel Beckett Endpage
The official page of the The Samuel Beckett Society.
The Samuel Beckett Foundation
Originated in the University of Reading Samuel Beckett Exhibition of 1971 and grew rapidly, through material donated by Beckett himself as well as his friends. It is now the most extensive collection of Beckett materials in the world.
Samuel Beckett Nobel Laureate Page
Prize for Literature Awarded in 1969 "for his writing, which - in new forms for the novel and drama - in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation."
Fathoms from Anywhere
Samuel Beckett Centenary Exhibition at Univerity of Texas
Scholars Discover 23 Blank Pages That May As Well Be Lost Samuel Beckett Play
kora in hell | beatrix | kerry blues and beckett
Fun facts about Samuel Beckett's favorite dog: a Kerry Blue Terrier.
"Words were my only love and not many."
A few famous quotes (others are available on the general Beckett sites):
Waiting for Godot (1952)
We are all born mad. Some remain so.
ESTRAGON: Well, shall we go?
VLADIMIR: Yes, let's go. (They do not move.)
ESTRAGON: I can't go on like this.
VLADIMIR: That's what you think.
NELL: Nothing is funnier than unhappiness, I grant you that. But– [...] Yes, yes, it’s the most comic thing in the world. And we laugh, we laugh, with a will, in the beginning. But it’s always the same thing. Yes, it’s like the funny story we have heard too often, we still find it funny, but we don’t laugh any more.
Kora's selected Samuel Beckett Quotes to Inspire (i.e., Words To Live By), most of which are also funny as all hell:
... you would do better, at least no worse, to obliterate texts than to blacken margins, to fill in the holes of words till all is blank and flat and the whole ghastly business looks like what it is, senseless, speechless, issueless misery.
Oh the stories I could tell you if I were easy. What a rabble in my head, what a gallery of moribunds. Murphy, Watt, Yerk, Mercier and all the others. I would never have believed that – yes, I believe it willingly. Stories, stories. I have not yet been able to tell them. I shall not be able to tell this one.
But the idea of ageing was not exactly the one that offered itself to me. And what I saw was more like a crumbling, a frenzied collapsing of all that had always protected me from all I was condemned to be. Or it was like a kind of clawing towards a light and countenance I could not name, that I had once known and long denied.
To restore silence is the role of objects.
All the things you would do gladly, oh without enthusiasm, but gladly, all the things there seems no reason for your not doing, and that you do not do! Can it be we are not free? It might be worth looking into.
In me there have always been two fools, among others, one asking nothing better than to stay where he is and the other imagining that life might be slightly less horrible a little further on.
Yes, there were times when I forgot not only who I was, but that I was, forgot to be.
Tears and laughter, they are so much Gaelic to me.
Malone Dies (1951)
Decidedly it will never have been given to me to finish anything, except perhaps breathing. One must not be greedy.
Decidedly the night is long and poor in counsel.
I pause to record that I feel in extraordinary form. Delirium perhaps.
I must be happy, he said, it is less pleasant than I should have thought.
The Unnamable (1953)
And all these questions I ask myself. It is not in a spirit of curiosity. I cannot be silent. About myself I need know nothing. Here all is clear. No, all is not clear. But the discourse must go on. So one invents obscurities. Rhetoric.
That the impossible should be asked of me, good, what else could be asked of me? But the absurd! Of me whom they have reduced to reason.
If I have said anything to the contrary I was mistaken. If I say anything to the contrary again I shall be mistaken again. Unless I am mistaken now. Into the dossier with it in any case, in support of whatever thesis you fancy.
Is not a uniform suffering preferable to one which, by its ups and downs, is liable at certain moments to encourage the view that perhaps after all it is not eternal?
The tears stream down my cheeks from my unblinking eyes. What makes me weep so ? From time to time. There is nothing saddening here. Perhaps it is liquefied brain.
Deplorable mania, when something happens, to inquire what.
What can it matter to me, that I succeed or fail ? The undertaking is none of mine, if they want me to succeed I’ll fail, and vise versa, so as not to be rid of my tormentors.
Bah, the latest news, the latest news is not the last.
. . . perhaps they have carried me to the threshold of my story, before the door that opens on my story, that would surprise me, if it opens, it will be I, it will be the silence, where I am, I don't know, I'll never know, in the silence you don't know, you must go on, I can't go on, I'll go on.
How It Is (1961)
My mistakes are my life.
Worstward Ho (1983)
Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.