Playwright and novelist Samuel Barclay Beckett (1906-1989) was born on this day in Dublin, Ireland and majored in French and Italian at Trinity College.
He once said: "What do I know of man's destiny? I could tell you more about radishes."
Saying he "preferred France at war to Ireland at peace," young Beckett chose Paris to sow his literary oats and became friends with fellow Irish wordsmith James Joyce. The profound relationship echoed in the literature Beckett created.
"We are all born mad. Some remain so," Beckett said, with characteristic absurdity.
His classic Waiting for Godot (1952; En attendant Godot), was a play written in French about two men, Vladimir and Estragon, waiting for a man named Godot, who never arrives. In Endgame (1957), four grotesque characters explored life's endings with Beckett writing, “I’m warming up for my last soliloquy."
With bleakness and irony, his existential vision celebrated ideas and words rather than story development. Cryptic, yet meaningful. Haunting fragments. With humor and morbidness, his writing inspired and changed modern theater.
"The author," Beckett said, "is never of much interest."
Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969, he wrote, "What does it matter, faint or loud, cry is cry, all that matters is that it should cease."
To fail is to learn.