Samuel Beckett: from being James Joyce’s assistant to winning the Nobel Prize for literature

Talk about Samuel Beckett is to talk about literary modernism, one of the creators of the absurd theater, as well as being one of the most important writers of his time. This is how the writer defines it Ronan McDonald in the book titled The Cambridge Introduction to Samuel Beckettaccording to which the writer born in Foxrock, Ireland, in 1906, is an author who challenges the concepts of meaning and interpretation.

“It deals with Beckett’s life, his intellectual and cultural background, his works, his prose, and critical response, and relates his work and vision to the culture and context in which he wrote,” says McDonald in the introductory part. from the book.

When talking about Beckett, we not only point out his fame as a difficult person, but we must also think about the writer who faced a dark vision of life, which he came to hide with humor, in addition to having distractions such as chess and sports, especially rugby.

Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett

However, he was not like the other authors who had to give one (or several) explanations about his life or his texts, he simply said “they mean what they say”, feeding the mystery and the aura that surrounded him in his works and poems.

And despite having been an assistant and disciple of the novelist James Joyce, this Irish writer criticized him in an essay, warning that “the danger lies in the neatness of the identifications.”

In the same way, the book makes a reference to the writer and to something very revealing for its readers, because despite the fact that Beckett “always placed much more emphasis on the aesthetic qualities of his work than on the meaning that could be extracted from them, in the form more than in the sense”, of which he revealed that “the key word in my works is ´maybe´”.

Also, some may wonder why his plays are better known than his prose, because for me there is a reason why Ronan McDonald writes, since he mentions “first of all, Beckett is probably better known as a playwright, although as a prose writer is a key influence on modern novelists such as JM Coetze and John Banville”.

credit: Roger Pic
credit: Roger Pic

Like them there are characters like Edward Albee, Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard and innumerable artists who would be impossible to name if they had not been influenced by Beckett.

There are readers who first see Beckett’s theater and go on to read his novels, but one of his translators into Spanish, Antonia Rodríguez-Gago, mentioned in the book Happy days: “He devoted himself, among other things, to discrediting the word as a means of artistic expression and created a poetics of images, both scenic and narrative.”

For 1969 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in which it was said that he won this recognition “for his writing, which, renewing the forms of the novel and the drama, acquires its greatness from the moral indigence of modern man.”

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Samuel Beckett: from being James Joyce’s assistant to winning the Nobel Prize for literature