Endgame and Act Without Words

Endgame and Act Without Words

by Samuel Beckett (Translator)


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Samuel Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 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’s characteristic raw minimalism, it is a pure and devastating distillation of the human essence in the face of approaching death.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780802144393
Publisher: Grove/Atlantic, Inc.
Publication date: 06/16/2009
Pages: 112
Sales rank: 274,676
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.40(d)

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A. Alvarez

"[Beckett's work is a] continual search for a special kind of perfection, a perfection manifest in his unfailing stylistic control and economy of language, his remorseless stripping away of superfluities."

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Endgame and Act Without Words 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
scull17 More than 1 year ago
Beckett manages in this short play to say a lot more about life, death, memory, dreams, sickness, boredom, anxiety, family, than your average five-hundred-page novel. We meet four characters: Hamm, the blind cripple who is master of the house; Clov, the long-suffering servant (who may or may not be Hamm’s son); and Hamm’s old, decrepit parents, Nagg and Nell. In this claustrophobic setting where they languish, they are doomed not only to repeat the same actions over and over again, but to say the same things and tell the same stories over and over again; caught (as they are) in the insanity of routine, they ask: “Why this farce, day after day?” It’s minimalist in style but from that comes a subtle insight into the power struggles between parents and children. Clov’s happiness and freedom (whatever these terms may mean in this universe) are sacrificed to Hamm’s needs and selfishness; and Nagg and Nell who were neglectful of Hamm as a child are now (in their old age) dependent solely on him. In one of my favorite passages in the book, Hamm promises Nagg a sugar plum if he listens to his story; Nagg reluctantly agrees but finds himself disappointed in the end, for Hamm has lied about the sugar plum. Dejected, the old man tells his son: “I was asleep, as happy as a king, and you woke me up to have me listen to you. It wasn’t indispensable, you didn’t really need to have me listen to you. Besides I didn’t listen to you. [Pause.] I hope the day will come when you’ll really need to have me listen to you, and need to hear my voice, any voice. [Pause.] Yes, I hope I’ll live till then, to hear you calling me like when you were a tiny boy, and were frightened, in the dark, and I was your only hope.” All the days and years have melted into one long, hopeless day: the characters sit in the gloom and wait for the world to end. Hamm says to Clov: “Yesterday! What does that mean? Yesterday!” Clov answers: “That means that bloody awful day, long ago, before this bloody awful day. I use the words you taught me. If they don’t mean anything any more, teach me others. Or let me be silent.”
Madaroo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
"Use your head, can't you! Use your head! You're on Earth, there's no cure for that!"
jwhenderson on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I remember reading this in anticipation of a lecture at the University of Chicago "First Friday' series. The lecturer certainly saw more references in the play to Dante, Descartes and others than I did. I have seen and read the play again since then and I am still trying to decipher a lot of what happens during the action. That is part of what makes Beckett interesting as a playwright for me. In the case of Endgame "Comedy" may be too cheerful a word to use for some of the lighter moments like the episodes in the ashcans. They are part of Mr. Beckett's grim joke on the futility of life. On the whole what Beckett has to say is contrary and nihilistic. But as a writer he can create a mood by using words as incantations. Although the dialogue is often baffling, there is no doubt about the total impression. This is a thinking persons drama and in spite of its bleakness we are still here in the twenty-first century reading and puzzling over this brilliant work.
paulskiy2k on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I read this book for my 20th century British Literature class and I fell in love with the play. The characters in the play are so complex yet once you think about it. Minus the crazy way they live, their relationships to one another is the same that many people today have together. People who have already read this are thinking no I don't put my parents into trash bins until they die. What I'm saying is the trash cans are the same to putting your parents into a nursing home and forgetting all about them until they were about to die. Sure it sounds evil, but it happens. Just like many things is this play actually occur. These similarities is what makes the story really entertaining because of how the play ends. No, I'm not going to tell you what happens finding that out is up to you. I really recommend this book mostly to college students. It is a great play to write a paper on, since it gives you so much to work with. Believe I would know I wrote a 20 page paper on this play and got B only because it had to be longer.
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This unique play depicts the hopelessness of a post-apocolyptic 'family', if you can even call them that. How Beckett can make a play about the end of the world and make it humorous..... I'll never understand! It definitely lives up to the 'theatre of the absurd' style that Beckett fore-fronted. A must read for any drama/english major.