The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Vol. 1: 1929–1940 edited by Martha Dow Fehsenfeld and Lois More Overbeck

Reviewed by
June 2009, no. 312
Buy this book
James Ley reviews 'The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Vol. 1: 1929–1940' edited by Martha Dow Fehsenfeld and Lois More Overbeck

The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Vol. 1: 1929–1940

edited by Martha Dow Fehsenfeld and Lois More Overbeck

Cambridge University Press, $75 hb, 881 pp

Buy this book

The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Vol. 1: 1929–1940 edited by Martha Dow Fehsenfeld and Lois More Overbeck

Reviewed by
June 2009, no. 312

The play that made Samuel Beckett famous, Waiting for Godot (1953), must be the most unlikely box-office success in theatre history. Its upending of dramatic expectations – its bathetic preferencing of repetition over development, tedium over excitement – is an act of aesthetic brutalism as outrageous in its way as Marcel Duchamp’s ‘readymades’ four decades earlier. Yet its depiction of two grubby tramps waiting interminably for someone who never shows up has become a definitive representation of humankind’s state of metaphysical suspension. Life is a conceptual joke: we wait for an explanation that will never be given, beholden to someone or something that, if it is not nothing, might as well be nothing.

James Ley reviews 'The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Vol. 1: 1929–1940' edited by Martha Dow Fehsenfeld and Lois More Overbeck

The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Vol. 1: 1929–1940

edited by Martha Dow Fehsenfeld and Lois More Overbeck

Cambridge University Press, $75 hb, 881 pp

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