About Beckett. The Playwright and the Work by John Fletcher

By John Fletcher

In About Beckett Emeritus Professor John Fletcher has compiled an intensive and obtainable quantity that explains why Beckett's paintings is so major and enduring. Professor Fletcher first met Beckett in 1961 and his ebook is crammed not just with insights into the paintings but additionally interviews with Beckett and first-hand tales and observations via those that helped to place his paintings at the degree, together with Dame Peggy Ashcroft, Roger Blin, Peter corridor, Max Wall and George Devine. As an creation to Beckett and his paintings, Professor Fletcher's e-book is incomparable.

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His group was infiltrated by a double agent and betrayed to the Gestapo. Beckett narrowly escaped arrest and eventually found his way to a small village in the south of France, where he went into hiding. He later joined the local resistance group and, among other things, hid weapons and explosives for them. Had he been caught with this compromising material in his possession, his Irish passport would not have saved him from the firing squad. Traces of this dangerous occupation (for which he was decorated after the war by General de Gaulle), and of the general anxiety of living every day with the stress of clandestinity and secrecy, survive in the unease that the heroes of his later novels express about ‘writing their report’.

Few critics and theatre people would therefore be surprised if Beckett is considered by posterity to rank in importance with the masters I mentioned just now, Molière and Ibsen. It is perhaps still too early to say, of course; but it is clear that Beckett has done as much as any dramatist in the twentieth century to extend and modify the resources of the stage, to adapt its millennial arts to the expression of the concerns and anxieties of the present age. Just as Shakespeare explored the political and moral dilemmas of the Renaissance, or Molière adjusted the anarchic world of comedy to neoclassical and rationalistic norms, or Ibsen created and transformed patterns of naturalism to give perfect expression to the psychological ghosts that stalked the European bourgeoisie in the overconfident age of imperialism and high capitalism, so Beckett has found the means of setting out the metaphysical doubts that torment us now in forms that, like all radical innovations, surprise at first and then in a short space of time begin to seem natural and inevitable.

If all this seems confusing, it is because modern drama since the turn of the twentieth century has been one of the most bewilderingly lively and inventive of European art forms. There is no simple pattern, but rather a tension, a continual dialectic. The twin forces pulling in different directions in Beckett’s theatre – those of rigour on the one hand, and of feeling on the other – are a case in point. It is such interaction, not only within modern drama, but also between contemporary plays and the classics of the past, that makes the theatre of the latter half of the twentieth century in general, and its leading exponent Beckett in particular, such a fascinating object of study.

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