Samuel Beckett


Samuel Beckett (1906-1989) was a playwright, poet and novelist whose work has had a formative influence on 20th century culture. Born in Foxrock, Ireland, he moved to Paris after an abortive attempt at being an academic. Years of penury and obscurity followed, during which time he consorted with artists such as James Joyce, Alberto Giacometti, and Marcel Duchamp. During World War II, he was an active member of the French Resistance, and after the war he was honored with the Croix de Guerre and the Médaille de la Résistance. In 1954, Beckett’s play “Waiting for Godot” was introduced to an unsuspecting America by Barney Rosset at Grove Press; Beckett became a signature author of the fledgling company. Although he was highly regarded by a small circle of literary aficionados, it was not until Beckett won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969 (he famously gave away the prize money that accompanied it) that his work began to reach a wider audience. His writing is characterized by meticulousness and a ceaseless fascination with the puzzle of fitting words to actions, and with the simultaneous impossibility and necessity of doing so that marks the human condition.

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