Beckett criticism is well known for its use of impenetrable jargon in describing the themes in his famous novels, poems and especially his seminal plays Waiting for Godot and Endgame. This book is a decided contrast. Written by one of Beckett's contemporaries, it provides a humanizing portrait of Beckett that has been conspicuously missing from previous biographies.
Spanning nearly the whole of the twentieth century, Beckett's life was full of romantic, exciting incidents and fascinating characters such as James Joyce and Peggy Guggenheim. He met his wife as a result of being stabbed by a pimp on the street, was a member of the French Resistance, won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1969 and in later years became a famous figure on the Left Bank. He died on December 22, 1989.
Cronin regards Beckett as the last of the great modernists and discusses his life and work in this context. The result is a thoroughly engaging addition to the criticism on one of the century's greatest literary figures, one that belongs on the shelves of all lovers of Beckett.
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Samuel Beckett has always been something of an enigma. Born and raised in Ireland, he moved to France as a young man and remained there, risking his life during the war in his work with the French Resistance. Kind, generous, and often funny in real life, his plays and novels are implacably dark, filled with despair, need, and isolation. In Samuel Beckett: The Last Modernist, biographer Anthony Cronin limns a deft portrait of the great writer using Beckett's letters, early fiction, and Cronin's own acquaintance with both his subject and several of Beckett's friends in Dublin. Taken together, these sources reveal a multifaceted man.
Beckett passed through many phases on his way to greatness: a French teacher at Dublin College, a member of the Paris circle that formed around James Joyce in the late 1920s, and later an active participant in the French Resistance. The years following World War II proved a fertile time in Beckett's creative life, encompassing his transition from the autobiographical to the modernist impersonal--perhaps his greatest works. Anthony Cronin admirably balances his portrayal of the man and the artist, rendering the details of Beckett's uneventful life and his rich imagination in a way that fleshes out the man even as it celebrates the genius.About the Author:
Anthony Cronin is a poet, novelist, broadcaster, editor, and author of No Laughing Matter, a celebrated biography of Flann O'Brien. He lives in Dublin, Ireland.
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