Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Understanding Beckett

There has been a rash of articles celebrating the centenary of Samuel Beckett's birth, with many critics suggesting that he should be considered the greatest playwright of the twentieth century. Terry Eagleton, however, while asserting Beckett's greatness, believes that the symbolism of his work has been overstated, as he writes in The Guardian:
...he was not some timeless spirit but a southern Irish Protestant, part of a besieged minority of cultural aliens caught uneasily within a triumphalistic Catholic Free State. As Anglo-Irish Big Houses were burnt by Republicans during the war of independence, many Protestants fled to the Home Counties. The paranoia, chronic insecurity and self-conscious marginality of Beckett's work make a good deal more sense in this light. So does the stark, stripped quality of his writing, with its Protestant aversion to frippery and excess.

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