Samuel Beckett's Revelation

George Hunka on Samuel Beckett and Krapp's Last Tape
Dun Laoghaire Pier, Dublin, Ireland. Photograph: Patrick Naughton
At Superfluities Redux, George Hunka explores the way Samuel Beckett used biographical experiences in his work after 1946: 'Beckett and Krapp are of course not equivalent (when he wrote the play, Beckett was much closer to the 39-year-old Krapp than he was to the 69-year-old Krapp that holds the stage). And Krapp’s irritable, angry, and perhaps fearful desire to skip over or repudiate the lessons of his revelation certainly was not a rejection shared by his creator, who would use this darkness as the mine from which he would bring out the great postwar plays, novels, and prose. But it does confirm Beckett’s essential pessimism: as Knowlson puts it, “Light was … rejected in favor of darkness.” And it should also be noted that, as Knowlson points out, this was less a sudden revelation than a crystallization of tendencies to which Beckett’s work had been leading for years. It was a synthesis of suspicions about the nature of existence that, first, became clear, and second, provided the basis for extended aesthetic discipline, productivity, and experience. But make no mistake: this is pessimism. And Beckett — if not Krapp — learned to embrace it not in celebration but in contemplation. It is a difficult embrace but one that must be made once the recognition is experienced; if not, the work and the life are lies.' [Read More]

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