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Samuel Beckett

Humanistic Perspectives

Edited by Morris Beja, S. E. Gontarski, and Pierre Astier

This collection of original essays has been assembled to honor Samuel Beckett on his seventy-fifth birthday—a celebration to which the writer himself has made his own contribution in the form of a play especially written for the occasion and entitled Ohio Impromptu. This special piece appears in an appendix to the volume, where it has been reproduced, through a combination of photographic facsimile and textual transcription, in various versions through which it evolved to its final form

Samuel Becket—the Irishman who lives permanently in France and writes primarily in French (though he translates everything he writes into either English or French, depending on the original language of composition)—has achieved fame throughout the world for his work in fiction, drama, and film. A particularly multicultural writer, Beckett’s intellectual interests are so broad and so diverse that his writings in all media are best approached from a variety of disciplines; and this is the approach adopted by the editors of this collection. They have included, not only detailed treatments of literary matters, but also close examinations of such topics as, among others, Beckett’s theater in performance, the philosophical traditions against which he writes, his sense of history and politics, his close relation with the visual arts, the complex uses to which his language is put, and his effort to write “without style.” The result is a series of critical essays that come close to being the measures of the man and the artist they honor—the writer found particularly congenial to he modern sensibility as one in whose work the illusions and deceptions of the outer world resist each system that attempts a faithful, comprehensive, and coherent account, and that, in the end, must inevitably collapse under too great a weight of enigma and error.

All of the general editors are members of the faculty of The Ohio State University. S. E. Gontarski is associate professor of English on the Lima Campus, and Pierre Astier and Morris Beja are, respectively professor of Romance languages and professor of English on the main campus in Columbus.

1983 217 pp. This title is no longer available in a traditional print edition. Click here for free access to the book’s full text.