Essay: Samuel Beckett

Essay: Samuel Beckett
25/05/2011 Comments Off on Essay: Samuel Beckett Uncategorized admin

Sample Essay

When the Swedish Academy selected Samuel Beckett to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1969, the award only confirmed what critics and readers had known for some time: that he is one of the most important literary figures of the late twentieth century. Few authors in the history of literature have attracted as much critical attention as Beckett, and with good reason; he is both an important figure in his own right and a transitional thinker whose writings mark the end of modernism and the beginning of a new sensibility, postmodernism. The modernists of the early twentieth century—James Joyce, W. H. Auden, Virginia Woolf, Marcel Proust, and others—were stunned by the absurdity of their world. Previous generations had filled that world with philosophical, religious, and political meanings, but their orderly vision of reality no longer seemed to apply to life in the early 1900’s (Cronin, 1996).

The modernists lacked the faith of their forebears; they had experienced the chaos of the modern world with its potential for global war and the destruction of civilization, and they believed that the order of reality was a fiction, that life was unknowable. In response to their doubts, they turned literature in upon itself, separating it from life, creating an art for its own sake. These writers trusted in language to create new meanings, new knowledge, and a separate, artistic human universe.

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