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Endgame & Act Without Words

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  8,565 Ratings  ·  186 Reviews
Samuel Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature n 1969; his literary output of plays, novels, stories and poetry has earned him an uncontested place as one of the greatest writers of our time. "Endgame, " originally written in French and translated into English by Beckett himself, is considered by many critics to be his greatest single work. A pinnacle of Beckett ...more
Paperback, 96 pages
Published January 12th 1994 by Grove Press (first published January 1st 1957)
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Sep 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
It's unfortunate to see reviews of Beckett contain so many cliches. Defining his work by "existenial" or "absurd" -whether in a positive or negative context- is as reductive as defining Faulkner's works as "Southern" or Dostoyevski's as "psychological."
Beckett strived to create original works that reflected his preoccupation with complex ideas of philosophers (Descartes and schopenhauer)and psychology (Young and Freud) He also belonged to the liteary generation (like Eliot and Joyce) that wrote
Jan 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
All life long, the same questions, the same answers.

I read this in a hospital.
This morning.
The patient was someone I don't know very well.
It was thought that my presence would afford authority.
I am not sure about that.

The senseless ritual of life is unveiled in a drab flourish by Beckett. I love it. This isn't is powerful as Godot. There's no hope here -- for other than Death. There is memory and within that there's reverie, there's a lilting note which conveys. Our chores elongate without
Oct 16, 2009 rated it really liked it
The set of Endgame resembles a skull, with two high windows on the left and right. This is a play about hell: hell in the head as well as that state that might be awaiting us.

Everything is grey. There is no colour anywhere. At centre stage sits Hamm, in a chair on casters, with a bloodied handkerchief covering his dead. At left, two garbage cans covered with an old sheet. Clov stands at the right, next to a door. A picture hangs on the wall, face to the wall.

The garbage cans contain Hamm’s pare
Jul 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: drama
"We do what we can."
"We shouldn't."
Dec 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone (that means you)
December of Drama 2015, day eleven

"I love order. It's my dream. A world where all would be silent and still, and each thing in its last place, under the last dust."

Begin rant: I'm getting a little tired, alright, a lot tired, of people ignoring the conclusions reached by literature and philosophy. Conclusions? Yes-- there is actually philosophy (pessimism) that moves in straight lines instead of wearisome, wool-gathering circles. And there is literature that offers some actionable intelligence,
Naeem Nedaee
Jun 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Much has been said about Endgame and the existing literature has almost exhausted its interpretive capacity. But for me, Act Without Words is a far grater work in its brevity and universality. I loved its each and every moment... quite epiphanical... It dramatizes the way in which we, as human beings, are trapped by elemental workings of life and how nature creates mirages of desire and fulfillment only to leave us frustrated and unsatisfied. The moment when the only character refuses to play ac ...more
Jun 08, 2011 rated it liked it
Endgame feels, in many ways, like the same play as Waiting for Godot. Both plays use the same pair of, respectively, clever and dim-witted primary characters (Vladimir and Estragon in Godot, and Hamm and Clov in Endgame) presented in a gray, macabre setting. Knowing this makes it very easy to understand how Beckett structured these two plays, and how his character relations explicate themes--cerebral discord allows extensive and recursive banter. Personally, I didn't love the play. I've tried to ...more
Nov 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: reviewed
First read-through: pretty much nothing made sense. It was a swirl of madness and confusion.
Rereading it reveals layers and depth that elicits examination and interaction with Beckett's (post)modern themes of meaninglessness and disorder. He makes references to The Waste Land, which I thought was interesting. While Eliot ultimately reaches Christian conclusions, Endgame circles around nihilistic ideologies of nothingness.

I love this play for what questions it sparks within me. Reading it from a
Kyle Cooper
May 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Brilliant poetry. Embrace the pauses and sit in the work until it becomes uncomfortable. That's the only way to truly enjoy Beckett.
K.D. Absolutely
Jun 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: series, play, nobel
Last month, I read Samuel Beckett's Endgame (3 stars) so I am just reviewing the second play included in this book, Act Without Words. I still liked it or it is a notch better than Endgame but not as good as Waiting for Godot (4 stars). Although there is also the element of suicide here particularly the thought of it and the rebelliousness when the narrator did not move at the ending scene when the carafe or water was dangled within his reach right in front of him.

If Waiting for Godot (4 stars)
I don't know why but I somehow love Beckett. I think it is how little he says that startles my brain into fascination.
Tasha Robinson
Aug 23, 2018 rated it liked it
A friend recently gushed at me about Beckett's Endgame and about his plays in general, about the fascinating worlds they inhabit, and the characters they create. I haven't really read Beckett past Waiting for Godot, so I've been giving him a try. And I just don't think he's for me. "Act Without Words," described as a mime for one person, feels awfully relatable — it's just a description of a person onstage performing futile and wearying symbolic acts, while unseen forces in the wings torment and ...more
Maybe I just didn't have the patience for this...which sucks because I really love Samuel Beckett. I find that an artist has failed in some ways at times when people reading it ask questions like "I'm not sure I get it," "it's the same recycled material from his most famous work," and "I know this is important, but I'm not sure how....i don't get it." To which others retort: "you just don't understand him because your ignorance is showing....*high brow laugh..." which is what most of the reviews ...more
Aug 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-english
Despite Endgame having similarities with Waiting for Godot, it somehow has a different vibe. Beckett provides more context to the characters and their actions, and I feel as though I my interpretations are more linear; there is less variety among alternative scenarios. This is both a good and a bad thing. The play has a type of closure, whereas Waiting for Godot is followed by a sense of anxiety in me. However, that anxiety is the exact thing that makes Waiting for Godot prevail each time. I app ...more
Billy Jepma
Jan 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
A weird, obtuse, and strangely affecting absurdist one-act play that doesn't make much narrative sense, often borders on being silly, and stars a cast of characters who ramble and complain aimlessly all the way until it reaches a conclusion that suddenly and out-of-nowhere hits you with a blow of emotion.

I read it aloud with some of my apartment mates, and getting to hear the pacing that Becket carefully sets for his dialogue, along with catching the intonations he describes in the stage direct
Olga Tsygankova
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
In this play, the characters are bored with life, simply playing a game, until death. It's not my type of play. A short mime follows at the end. Mime is not something I really enjoy either. All-in-all, this was not a good read for me.
Fatima Abbas
Mar 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
عباره عن ثلاثه اقسام يتحكم بيها راو غير قادر على عمل شي و لا اتخاذ قرار مجرد ان يقص قصص و فقط
عباره عن عبث في عبث
هذا الراوي الذي يتحدث عن الموت و الحياة العادية و فقط
لم تعجبني مجرد كانما اجتمع الكلام ل ان لا يكون له معنى
Jan 09, 2008 added it
Shelves: drama
This review probably says something about my intellect, but if it does, I don’t really care. Holy pretentious metaphysics, stay away from this drama. Artistes might tell you this is Beckett’s finest masterpiece. My take is that I am making for myself a permanent rule: if the words “French”, “surreal”, and “existential” are words that describe the play or book I should leave it at the bookstore, and run away as fast as possible. The play begins with a man sitting in a recliner center stage covere ...more
El Zuco
Nov 09, 2011 rated it liked it
Oh Beckett, we're only three works in but I'm surprised we'd even made it this far. I wouldn't have read you this time if it hadn't been for class, please understand me. I shouldn't have even let you back after "Waiting for Godot". Instead I thought I'd pick up "Murphy", in which you were actually doing something quite different than this existentialismish drying out and wringing out into chiseled down existence or chiseled down language or chiseled down forms, and it really threw me for a loop, ...more
Jul 09, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Anyone who is patient and/or pretentious
Recommended to Andrea by: Dionysus (curse him!)
Beckett. What can I say? Better than Harold Pinter. There's Theatre of the Absurd, and then there is Theatre of the Asinine. I'm not sure which category this falls into. But it's Beckett, and it's a must read if you're a student of modern Theatre... which I used to be.
Jun 20, 2010 rated it it was ok
Shelves: for-school, plays
Oh hey Beckett. I see what you did there. You're very clever. Pat yourself on the back.
Jack Hrkach
Aug 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Sorry, no comments except to say just READ it please!
Feb 21, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2015
I just didn't get it? This rating will probably change once we've discussed this in class. Maybe some analysis will help me figure out what the hell it was all about.
Sep 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
The tip of the end is the meaninglessness and salvation of another beginning.
Dec 03, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: it takes a need to have your mind blown
Recommended to Jason by: Mike T
Hamm: The end is in the beginning and yet you go on.


Perhaps i could throw myself out on the floor.

(he pushes himself painfully off his seat, falls back again)

Dig my nails into the cracks and drag myself forward with my fingers.


It will be the end and there i'll be, wondering what can have brought it on and wondering what can have

(He hesitates)

...why it was so long coming.


there i'll be, in the old shelter, alone against the silence and...

(He hesitates)

...the stillness.
Chris Serpentine
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Justin Martin
Feb 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
Like King Lear, which I read alongside it, Endgame focuses urgently on an ethics of care - or maybe only its failure. One character, Hamm, can't stand, i.e. uses a wheelchair. Another, his caretaker Clove, can't sit. Hamm's parents, Nagg and Nell, are both in literal trash-cans, decomposed but still talking. Hamm can call Clove with a whistle, but fears that Clove will leave at seemingly any time; Clove does not know why he stays, and contemplates whether to wander the wasteland.

It's from these
Paul LaFontaine
Four people in a house, three related, all grapple with their perceptions of reality and each other. In the end they parts ways that path being the range from a smart travel suit and satchel out the front door to death in a trash bin.

Beckett is special, the feeling he evokes is powerful. And I like my stories a bit more understandable. Like Godot, there is a lot of nonsense remarks that might mean something, or nothing.

Recommend with caution.
Olivia Camp
YES! The depth of meaninglessness; an exaggeration of disorder and confusion. It's Beckett at his finest. Likewise to Waiting For Godot, Endgame is a quick and endless conversation wrapped in tragicomedy and tied up so nicely with a bow of "what the heck is this" - what's better than bleak humor and despair?! Read this to send your mind into a dizzy of existential crisis.
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Samuel Barclay Beckett was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet, who lived in France for most of his adult life. He wrote in both English and French. His work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human nature, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour.

Beckett is widely regarded as among the most influential writers of the 20th century. Strongly influenced
Do you believe in the life to come?
Mine was always that.”
Open the window.
What for?
I want to hear the sea.
You wouldn't hear it.
HAMM Even if you opened the window?
Then it's not worth opening it?
Then open it!”
More quotes…