[M]an cannot possibly communicate with his fellows, but the alternative – silence – is irreconcilable with human existence.

Samuel Beckett

 

Along with Eugene Ionesco, Harold Pinter, and Jean Genet, Samuel Beckett created and then populated with a surprisingly small body of work the Theatre of the Absurd. His most famous work, Waiting for Godot, encapsulates the existential bleakness for which he is famous. His influence on younger playwrights, in particular Edward Albee and Tom Stoppard, was profound.

Beckett was born in 1906 in a suburb of Dublin but lived his adult life as an expatriate in Paris where he died in 1989. Mel Gussow, writing his obituary in the New York Times, said “[a]t the root of his art was a philosophy of the deepest yet most courageous pessimism…” His plays are stripped of all context and the actors interact only to express their despair, but by facing the meaninglessness of life they achieve a sort of dignity, and a meaningful dignity at that. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969 for work that “elevates man from his destitution.”

Beckett and his work have attracted the attention of visual artists and printers. The American artist Dellas Henke printed an illustrated fine press version of Waiting for Godot in 1979 in a limited edition of forty copies. In 1983, he made an illustrated version of Beckett's Company in cooperation with the University of Iowa Center for the Book which was signed by the artist and by Beckett. It was an edition of fifty-two copies. Larger fine press editions of Beckett’s work were made by the Petersburg Press and Jasper Johns (Foirades / Fizzles), by the Limited Editions Club and Robert Ryman (Nohow On), and by the New Overbook Press (The Lost Ones). Other Beckett titles or translations have been issued by the Yolla Bolly Press, Blue Moon Books, and Les Éditions Georges Visat.

 

Books by Samuel Beckett available from Boreas Fine Art:

[ Johns, Jasper ]  Beckett, Samuel.  Foirades / Fizzles.  London: Petersburg Press, S.A.  1976.

[ Yolla Bolly Press ]  de Balbuena, Bernardo, et al. trans. Samuel Beckett.  The Bread of Days.  Covelo, CA: Yolla Bolly Press.  1994.  (Twelve etchings by Enrique Chagoya; commentaries by Octavio Paz and Eliot Weinberger; binding designed by Julie Chen.)

 

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