Talk:Samuel Beckett

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Former featured articleSamuel Beckett is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
Main Page trophyThis article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on April 13, 2006.
Article milestones
September 25, 2004Featured article candidatePromoted
June 25, 2009Featured article reviewDemoted
Current status: Former featured article

Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment[edit]

Sciences humaines.svg This article is or was the subject of a Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment. Further details are available on the course page. Student editor(s): PatrickDQuinn1.

Above undated message substituted from assignment by PrimeBOT (talk) 08:37, 17 January 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

French- Irish? On what basis has that claim been made[edit]

Born in Ireland. Irish parents. The fact that he lived much of his life in France does not make him French. Is James Joyce now Irish-Italian-Swiss? Is Oscar Wilde Irish-English? Edited to restore the facts of Beckett's nationality — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:33, 1 August 2016 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Roe family, Steven Connor paper[edit]

I have removed a footnote stating "On his mother's side, he was descended from the Roe family." with a link to a PDF of "'My fortieth year had come and gone and I still throwing the javelin': Beckett’s athletics A paper given at the Beckett International Foundation Research Seminar, University of Reading, 18 June 2005" by Steven Connor. I don't know who the Roe family are; are they related to cricket? I couldn't find them in the linked paper in any case. A more user-friendly version of the article is this PDF at; it may contain some information worth adding to the article. jnestorius(talk) 16:39, 6 March 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


WP:Images says "You may take a photograph with your digital camera, scanner, or integrated mobile phone, draw an image or graph digitally, perhaps with a graphics tablet, or scan drawings and photos taken with a camera and then upload the image." Anyone can draw and upload an image if appropriate, the artist doesn't need to be notable. There is no doubt that this is a fair and recognisable rendering of Beckett. It is a useful addition to the article, offering a different impression. Span (talk) 09:33, 19 April 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A photograph of Beckett as the main image serves the article better than the so-called "fair and recognisable" sketch of SB that is hardly reconizable to the majority of readers. (And just how many amateur sketches are going to be uploaded here if anyone can do so? Question of self-promotion.) The sketch in question may possibly be included in the body of the article but the decision to do so should await consensus. --Jumbolino (talk) 11:03, 19 April 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

We have a photo of Beckett as the main image. That was not the question. The artist's name was not included under the sketch. Maybe the editor was trying to be helpful, not self promoting. I would assume good faith and not be too quick to assume what is 'recognisable to a majority of readers'. Span (talk) 11:11, 19 April 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Looks like self-promotion to me, as it was initially placed as replacement in the lede for the photograph. I don't think it should stay...Modernist (talk) 11:13, 19 April 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree with Modernist: the sketch was first used to replace the photograph here and whoever made the sketch also has unsuccessfully tried to post it at Wikipedia français as the main image. You can assume good faith if you like but I'm not convinced. Moreover, I would not be too quick to assume that it is 'recognisable to a majority of readers'. But I'm happy to see it included in the body of the article as long as there's a consensus on this. --Jumbolino (talk) 11:25, 19 April 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The question of where in the article the image was first added is irrelevant to the discussion about whether or not it should appear in the article at all (of course a photograph is preferable in the lead). Span correctly cites the Wikipedia guidelines, which are clear on the matter. Jumbolino and Modernist, I'm confused as to why you think it is an act of self-promotion. In what way? I tried to find out who the artist is and was unable to do so. The only link provided is to a Wikipedia/Commons username with no website link. It is effectively anonymous, therefore. I see no reason to suggest that it is not recognisable as Beckett, since it's a perfectly servicable likeness. When the article is overwhelmed with amateur sketches, then it may become a concern appropriately discussed here; the article is not exactly brimming with images as it is, in its present state. Consensus is only needed to remove the image rather than to include it--I haven't read any good arguments as to why it shouldn't be and the scarcity of images recommends inclusion. DionysosProteus (talk) 13:09, 19 April 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I have seen multiple instances in which there have been self-promoting illustrations added to biographical articles - however I am in agreement that in this case in which there is an anonymous author and a reasonable article placement to the image that it does not seem to be overtly self-promotional. I object to its initial placement as the lede; however currently I am ambivalent as to its value and/or its removal, however if consensus keeps it, then I withdraw my objection...Modernist (talk) 13:24, 19 April 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Let's be precise. The sketch is signed by "F. Or". It was uploaded at WP english, WP français, and WP deutsch by editor Fewskulchor. Although no one can identify the artist, it nonetheless remains a signed work (drawn probably by Fewskulchor). Trying to replace (misguided or not) the main photograph of Beckett at three Wikipedia sites with a signed work is a form of promotion - which raised the problem of "self-promoting illustrations added to biographical articles". Like Modernist with whom I fully agree, my objection was to its initial placement as the lede and its pertinence (poor likeness of SB). So far, two editors find it's a good likeness while two more doubt its value. And since the crappy little drawing has now found a reasonable placement, it should be welcomed in the article according to WP rules on images -- until replaced by a worthy caricature. --Jumbolino (talk) 20:57, 19 April 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

The portrait of Beckett by Reginald Gray is extremely crude and unskilled.Lestrade (talk) 16:57, 20 November 2011 (UTC)LestradeReply[reply]

Minor cleanup[edit]

I've made some changes, which I'm detailing here. Simplified the genres in infobox - can't assume that absurdism is the best way to describe him. Changed modernist literature to modernism--broader, given his theatre-making (awaiting an article on modernist theatre). Added Gilles Deleuze and Theodor W. Adorno as influenced ones (both use B as a model for their aesthetics. Added theatre director to occupations: article needs some material on this. Expanded the list of notable works to include the big novel trilogy and some of the later work. I couldn't understand "philosophically minimalist". What does that mean, exactly? It's not "as a student etc. of James Joyce" that he's considered a modernist--no causal link should be there (it's more like the two bits of information are in the same general area). The various categorisations are less important, I feel, than the summary "most influential in c20th". I've cleaned up the text of the rest of the article, often removing all those the year possessives. Still needs decent citations throughout. DionysosProteus (talk) 15:08, 19 April 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Suggested addition[edit]

Reading through this article recently I noticed the refutation of Beckett being mistakenly identified as an existentialist, and recalled the comments made by Adorno on this issue in his essay on Endgame. I think there is a passage to the effect of 'For existentialists, existentialism swallows history, but in Beckett, history swallows existentialism'. If we're to list Adorno in the 'influenced...' section, would it be worth finding the exact existentialism quote from the source and adding it to the text? jiesenxiaxue (talk) 11:54, 21 September 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Human culture?[edit]

I was re-reading the introduction to the Samuel Beckett entry and wondered if it wouldn't make sense to switch "human culture" to "human existence" so that

His work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human culture, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour.

would become

His work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human existence, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour.

My reason for proposing the change is that culture is simultaneously too vague and too specific. Are we speaking of culture in terms of high culture and low culture or are we speaking of material culture? Are we speaking about civilization? Western civilization? The phrase doesn't make much sense to me.

I recognize that the word "culture" might have been chosen to avoid the existentialist-sounding "condition" but it seems to me that, although Beckett himself was not an existentialist, he was very much concerned with human existence in general. Consider Beckett's early play Eleuthéria:

Yesterday I set forth [...] the manner in which I view the problem of human existence, for a problem it is, in my opinion, despite the efforts being made to demonstrate the contrary (111).


It's clear. [...] Existence so weighs him down that he prefers to cancel himself out (119).

Likewise, in Endgame, Hamm is terribly distressed by the prospect "humanity might start [...] all over again" (33). His problem is not with culture (high/low, material, or any other) but with existence generally. I am only proposing a change to one word, but I think it is a significant one nevertheless. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Friesenmp (talkcontribs) 22:24, 2 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I completely agree with this statement and the proposed change. I, too, was a bit confused by the use of the word "human culture." While Beckett is concerned with aspects of human culture, his main focus is concerning the existence of humans at all and what this existence means (while not being an existentialist in his writings or perspective).--Farah-baleine (talk) 05:23, 4 October 2011 (UTC)Reply[reply]


In the article, periods are placed outside of quotation marks. Shouldn't they be inside?Lestrade (talk) 00:25, 12 January 2012 (UTC)LestradeReply[reply]

This is a form known as logical punctuation or logical quotation that is widespread in British publishing and used frequently in Irish, British, and European-based articles at Wikipedia. --Jumbolino (talk) 10:59, 13 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The reference note regarding the quote from Peggy Guggenheim claims that Beckett was "looed by apathia." What does the verb "loo" mean?Lestrade (talk) 00:39, 12 January 2012 (UTC)LestradeReply[reply]

Artistic skill[edit]

Modern contemporary art is not concerned with naturalistic representation. This is fine, except when portraiture is attempted. The Irish commemorative coin and the painting by Reginald Gray appear crude and childish. If depictions of Beckett's face are made by artists, then the artists need to possess a certain level of skill. Reversion to pre-20th century quality is necessary. Otherwise, the depiction is almost comical.Lestrade (talk) 16:34, 12 January 2012 (UTC)LestradeReply[reply]

I think the coin image has to be kept as it is significant that Beckett's face appears on a commemorative coin. However, I have not been happy with Portrait of Samuel Beckett by Reginald Gray since it was inserted. I reverted it twice (in June and July 2010) when it was particularly intrusive (see this edit), but I left it for other editors to decide when it was re-added by an IP (diff). If there are no further comments here, the best method to gauge current feelings might be to remove the portrait and see what response follows. I see opinions in other articles where the same user has added similar portraits that the portrait did not assist the article. Johnuniq (talk) 01:12, 13 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Reginald Gray is a notable portait artist. The portait is a notable interpretation of one artist by another. It is pertinent to the section in which it is included, there is no cogent reason for removal, Jezhotwells (talk) 02:49, 13 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Gray is a respected portrait artist - not an unknown amateur promoting his work. Removing his Beckett portrait for reasons based simply on personal aesthetics is against Wiki Guidelines on POV. Nor should personal views be an issue regarding the coin portrait of Beckett: whatever its faults, it's there in the article as the official coin struck to commemorate his centenary. In the first case, one's dealing with an internationally recognized artist. In the second, the government minting of a coin. Provided their image sizes are non-obstrusive in the article, both cases are worthy of inclusion as relevant encyclopedic information. --Jumbolino (talk) 10:32, 13 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

In Please Don't Eat the Daisies, David Niven cries, "I shall yell tripe when tripe is served." Let us retain the crude portrait because it was produced by an internationally "recognized" artist. If we see enough bad art, we'll eventually get used to it and it will become standard. Lestrade (talk) 16:57, 14 January 2012 (UTC)LestradeReply[reply]

Questions of tripe are not going to help here.
The comments preceding yours are hard to interpret as deciding whether or not to include a portrait in an article is nothing to do with POV, and articles definitely do not include things because they exist—as well as being encyclopedic, the material has to assist the article. The importance of an artist may be a factor in deciding whether to include their portrait, but I see nothing there in favor of this portrait in this article. Yes, Reginald Gray (artist) is notable, but obviously Beckett's status is not affected by the fact that the portrait was painted. Putting "samuel beckett painting" into a Google images search shows lots of portraits—there needs to be a reason to include this one other than it is available. One possibility would be to replace the portrait with the coin image (that is, move the coin image), although the issue is not particularly important in my eyes. Johnuniq (talk) 00:27, 15 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The two arguments against Gray's portrait are based on the perception that it's a crude likeness (etc) that does not "assist" the article. In what way, precisely, does it hinder? Note well that I respect both your opinions. But I do think one ought to consider how other editors may feel about Gray's art; and since it concerns the well-documented significance of painting in Beckett's work (neglected in the article), the issue is important. Gray's primitive style belies genuine sophistication: this is not a personal judgement but one objectively stated (cf. artist’s profile at the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin, the National Gallery in London, etc). This deliberate naïveté goes hand in hand with Beckett’s pared down prose style after 1945 when he decided to write exclusively in French so as to be “ill-equipped” (cf. Craig, Fehsenfeld, Overbeck, Letters of SB: 1941-1956, 464), a technique that developed into his celebrated “syntax of weakness". While this view may or may not be shared by reliable third-party sources, it is a verifiable fact that Beckett respected Gray's work as the portrait is drawn from life (something Beckett rarely granted); and this should be reason enough to include it in an article that lacks images by recognized artists (no doubt, for copyright reasons). If one uploaded Beckett portraits by Avigdor Arikha or Louis le Brocquy, along with illustrations of his work by Bram van Velde, Jasper Johns, and Edward Gorey, the same arguments about crudity of likeness and assistance would perhaps be made. Yet Beckett was close friends with Arikha and van Velde; the latter was the brother in spirit who shared his struggle in art ("If there had to be for me a soul-mate, I make bold to say that it would be his soul and no other." Cf. Letters: 1941-56, 305). Beckett vigorously defended Bram's painting and, by consequence, his own writing. Any van Velde artwork executed between 1939-50 and a commentary would "assist" the article by contextualizing it within Beckett's dilemma based on "the rupture between subject and object", "ignorance and impotence", and the question of failure (cf. "Three Dialogues with Georges Duthuit" in Disjecta, Grove: NY, 145). If one had permission to upload images by these artists, then removing Gray's may be justified (ceding space to those who were part of Beckett's inner circle and creative process). Unfortunately, the claim that “Google images search shows lots of portraits” is misleading: Beckett portraits drawn from life by notable artists are extremely rare and obtaining permission to use them highly unlikely (ditto for those drawn from photographs). In short, my point is five-fold: Gray's portrait is Beckett-approved, drawn from life, and available; the artist notable. Without knowing the full circumstances behind its creation, we should be careful about suppressing a potentially informative image. Fellow editors have every right to condemn Beckett’s perceived poor taste (and cheers to Mr Niven on tripe and matters crude). But what do we gain by removing Gray except further impoverishment in an article that already suffers from a lack of rigueur? --Jumbolino (talk) 14:33, 15 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
OK, and thanks for the careful explanation. I wondered if the portrait was from life but I had no idea and couldn't quickly find an answer, and as no one had mentioned it I assumed it wasn't. I agree that changes the significance entirely, and if there were a suitable reference I think a very brief mention should be made in the caption. I suspect that the words "from the collection of Ken White, Dublin" are contrary to a MOS guideline somewhere (no reason I can see for such a credit), and they should be replaced with a brief mention of the circumstances under which the portrait was painted. My attitude to the portrait was influenced by the intrusive manner in which it was (twice) inserted at the top of the article, as seen in this version. Johnuniq (talk) 00:47, 16 January 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Did he drive Andre The Giant to school?[edit]

The Andre The Giant article, plus some other websites [1][2] say he did.

Two questions:

Well, if he did, you'd need some damn strong sources to tell you so. None of the three mentioned would qualify. Span (talk) 21:17, 20 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
One important thing is to be extra critical of any sources that appeared after the information got put into Wikipedia, which seems to be 17 April 2006.[3]
This source is better than the previous ones: [4].
There's also more details on an old version of this article: [5] "Actor Cary Elwes explains in his video diary of The Princess Bride that Beckett was a neighbour of the Roussimoff family, and used to give one of the Roussimoff sons, André René, a lift to school every day, since the boy was unable to take the school bus owing to his large size. André René Roussimoff would, in later years, go on to become professional wrestler André the Giant."
.Gronky (talk) 11:39, 21 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Even if an iron clad source did turn up, it would probably still count as trivia. Span (talk) 13:13, 21 July 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I've found the Cary Elwes video diary of the Princess Bride alluded to in the old version of this page referred to above, and sure enough he mentions that Andre told the story about Beckett in the first 50 seconds: So it certainly seems true that Andre told the tale at least, but whether he was telling the whole truth is more difficult to establish. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:33, 9 June 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Human Wishes[edit]

I added some links about for his one-act fragment, Human Wishes. I had no idea the work existed, and came to it while researching Samuel Johnson. However, I did include it in the list of "Dramatic Works" namely because I found it had just as good a reason to be there as Eleutheria, which is also technically a fragment. That, and there is a lot of commentary on the fragment as it relates to the tiny bits and pieces we can find about Beckett's development; namely Harold Bloom in the Western Canon as well as commentators in Grove's "Complete Works". I will add and source those later. If it is a big problem, let me know. --Artimaean (talk) 04:36, 14 September 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]


On the article as currently written: 1) Why did he fall out with his Mother? 2)Did something in particular happen to him in Ireland that he said he 'preferred Paris at war to Ireland at peace' and stayed in Paris throughout the Nazi occupation? 3) Did he have any children? 4) Is the article implying he had a 30-40 year long affair with Barbara Bray while being married to his wife Suzanne? (talk) 15:21, 17 November 2012 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Reference to Jung's lecture removed[edit]

It was unsubstantiated and, moreover, incorrect. The phrase Jung used was not "not being properly born." It was "never been born entirely." Jung, Carl Gustave. The Collected Works of Carl Gustave Jung, Vol. 18, trans. R.F.C.Hull, Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1966-79, p.96. The talk was never on the topic of "not being properly born." It was on the topic of complexes. The phrase comes from the question and answer session following the talk, where Jung referred to one of his former patients to illustrate a point about chilren who are unable to escape living in archetypal dreams.

Perhaps more importantly, the off-hand mention of Jung's lecture seeks to mislead the reader into attributing a greater role that encounter had on Beckett than there is reason to believe. While there is scholarship that sees parallels to Jung's theory of complexes in Beckett's works, most psychoanalytic scholarship, especially those by psychoanalysts, find Bion's influence far more salient. Moreover, while Jung's lecture may have provided Beckett with an interesting phrase, Beckett had already had exposure to Jung from reading him long before attending the lecture. Beckett's attendance at the lecture is better placed in a separate article focusing on Beckett and Psychoanalysis than as a throwaway, unsubstantiated comment that implies a host of things that one simply cannot take for granted (and that scholarship does not take for granted).

Pensiveneko (talk) 13:34, 7 June 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

/* Later life and death */ Removed an uninformative section about Christianity[edit]

While there are many writers whose internal struggles with religion define their growths as an independent thinker, there is no reason to believe Beckett is such a writer. The section on Christianity seems to be thrown in with the assumption that every writer, or every Irish writer of Beckett's time, must have had a defining relationship to Christianity. Yet the quote from Beckett that was supplied to illustrate that point clearly states that Beckett saw worship as irrelevant. There is simply no reason to include a section pondering whether Beckett was an atheist or an agnostic, or whether his not being a Christian came from Anglican or Catholic sources.

Pensiveneko (talk) 13:49, 7 June 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Works in French[edit]

The list of works fails to acknowledge the fact that Beckett first wrote some works in French, including Waiting for Godot. Rwood128 (talk) 21:04, 3 November 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Bibliography -- confusion re dates[edit]

The dating of Beckett's works is tricky. Furthermore some dates given here are for when the work was written, rather than the date it was first published. With plays I'm presuming that the date of the first performance should be used, and the date the text was published used only if it was earlier (though this needs to be indicated)? If I can find the time I'll try and correct dates, and I'll indicate my sources. When a work was published long after it was written it would be useful to include the earlier date. Rwood128 (talk) 14:30, 10 November 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Further reading: Beckett editions --should it be deleted?[edit]

What is the criteria for the works selected for inclusion in the 'Beckett editions' section, and how does this section relate to the earlier 'Selected works'? Is it needed? Rwood128 (talk) 16:06, 11 November 2013 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Redirect note[edit]

Redirected the page on "Worstword Ho" to this one since it does not seem to notable on its own and the article had almost no unique information. SarahTheEntwife (talk) 14:44, 2 April 2014 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Beckett was stabbed in the chest and nearly killed when he refused the solicitations of a notorious pimp"[edit]

The pimp solicited Beckett for ... what? --Dweller (talk) 15:40, 23 November 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

It's not known. Beckett never gave the details of their conversation, and ultimately declined to press charges even. See Cronin's account, for example.
Thanks. That link doesn't work properly for me. The way my BrEng ears work, without specificity, the sentence currently implies that the pimp wanted to have sex with Beckett, which seems to go against the vague meaning you're saying it should have. --Dweller (talk) 20:15, 23 November 2015 (UTC)Reply[reply]

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James Joyce[edit]

It is good to see that this article mentions Beckett's collaboration with James Joyce. I have heard that Beckett tried to translate part of Finnegans Wake into French - if anybody knows anything about this, it could go in the article. Vorbee (talk) 09:14, 17 January 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

A Commons file used on this page has been nominated for speedy deletion[edit]

The following Wikimedia Commons file used on this page has been nominated for speedy deletion:

You can see the reason for deletion at the file description page linked above. —Community Tech bot (talk) 21:37, 8 April 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

On the critical reputation of Play (1963)[edit]

I’ve recently been trying, through some online research, to gain good ideas of the levels of reception for Beckett’s plays. I noticed that Long Wharf Theatre lists Play as one of his well-known plays along with Waiting for Godot, Endgame, Krapp’s Last Tape, and Happy Days — but what I’ve read in some other sources about Beckett’s literary career does not lead me to think that this is a renowned work of his. AndrewOne (talk) 20:11, 16 July 2019 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Fixing the image in Works[edit]

I noticed that Samuel Beckett by Edmund S. Valtman ppmsc.07951.jpg in "works" was not displayed correctly and tried to fix it. But I could not. It works in the preview. But when published the image is not shown.--NisansaDdS (talk) 11:19, 24 March 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Waiting for Godot[edit]

Opinions on mentioning Waiting for Godot in the lead? I suspect it's his best-known work by an order of magnitude and it surprised me not to see it. 2607:FEA8:86DF:ADD0:B831:9C8B:613C:77ED (talk) 22:12, 25 August 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]