Endgame and Act Without Wordsby Samuel Beckett (Translator)
Samuel Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969; his literary output of plays, novels, stories and poetry has earned him an uncontested place as one of the greatest writers of our time. Endgame, originally written in French and translated into English by Beckett himself, is considered by many critics to be his greatest single work. A/i>
Samuel Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969; his literary output of plays, novels, stories and poetry has earned him an uncontested place as one of the greatest writers of our time. Endgame, originally written in French and translated into English by Beckett himself, is considered by many critics to be his greatest single work. A pinnacle of Beckett’s characteristic raw minimalism, it is a pure and devastating distillation of the human essence in the face of approaching death.
- Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
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Beckett manages in this short play to say a lot more about life, death, memory, dreams, sickness, boredom, anxiety, family, than your average five-hundred-page novel. We meet four characters: Hamm, the blind cripple who is master of the house; Clov, the long-suffering servant (who may or may not be Hamm’s son); and Hamm’s old, decrepit parents, Nagg and Nell. In this claustrophobic setting where they languish, they are doomed not only to repeat the same actions over and over again, but to say the same things and tell the same stories over and over again; caught (as they are) in the insanity of routine, they ask: “Why this farce, day after day?” It’s minimalist in style but from that comes a subtle insight into the power struggles between parents and children. Clov’s happiness and freedom (whatever these terms may mean in this universe) are sacrificed to Hamm’s needs and selfishness; and Nagg and Nell who were neglectful of Hamm as a child are now (in their old age) dependent solely on him. In one of my favorite passages in the book, Hamm promises Nagg a sugar plum if he listens to his story; Nagg reluctantly agrees but finds himself disappointed in the end, for Hamm has lied about the sugar plum. Dejected, the old man tells his son: “I was asleep, as happy as a king, and you woke me up to have me listen to you. It wasn’t indispensable, you didn’t really need to have me listen to you. Besides I didn’t listen to you. [Pause.] I hope the day will come when you’ll really need to have me listen to you, and need to hear my voice, any voice. [Pause.] Yes, I hope I’ll live till then, to hear you calling me like when you were a tiny boy, and were frightened, in the dark, and I was your only hope.” All the days and years have melted into one long, hopeless day: the characters sit in the gloom and wait for the world to end. Hamm says to Clov: “Yesterday! What does that mean? Yesterday!” Clov answers: “That means that bloody awful day, long ago, before this bloody awful day. I use the words you taught me. If they don’t mean anything any more, teach me others. Or let me be silent.”
This unique play depicts the hopelessness of a post-apocolyptic 'family', if you can even call them that. How Beckett can make a play about the end of the world and make it humorous..... I'll never understand! It definitely lives up to the 'theatre of the absurd' style that Beckett fore-fronted. A must read for any drama/english major.