Keith's Reviews > The Dramatic Works of Samuel Beckett

The Dramatic Works of Samuel Beckett by Samuel Beckett
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's review
Oct 01, 2011

it was ok
Read in October, 2011

Waiting for Godot is often cited as either the greatest play or the most influential play of the 20th century. There’s no denying its influence, but I have a hard time seeing the greatness of the play -- let alone the qualities in it that made Beckett famous.

Unlike most people, I take Beckett at his word. The play is not allegory for anything. They are not waiting for god or salvation or Irish freedom or the Id, it’s not an allegory for the cold war or Jungian personalities or Christian repentance, nor is it homoerotic or autobiographical or existential.

They play is essentially a nihilistic work signifying nothing other than its own nihilistic point of view. It’s that simple. It is neither moving, funny, hopeful nor dramatic. It is nihilistic. It promises nothing and delivers nothing. It takes no stand, prefers neither good nor evil. It posits no point of view. Never before had nihilism been given such a stark venue as this play, and I suppose that is the source of its power.

Many critics cite the play’s humor and poetry, but, by any standard definition of humor or poetry, I don't see it. Nor does it include interesting or lively characters. To me, it is a work of a particular time and place that is otherwise unremarkable. (If you want nihilism presented in a more compelling manner, see King Lear or Hamlet.)
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