Samuel Beckett quotes

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Samuel Beckett

Birthdate: 13. April 1906
Date of death: 22. December 1989

Samuel Barclay Beckett was an Irish novelist, playwright, short story writer, theatre director, poet, and literary translator. A resident of Paris for most of his adult life, he wrote in both French and English.

Beckett's work offers a bleak, tragi-comic outlook on human existence, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour, and became increasingly minimalist in his later career. He is considered one of the last modernist writers, and one of the key figures in what Martin Esslin called the "Theatre of the Absurd".Beckett was awarded the 1969 Nobel Prize in Literature "for his writing, which—in new forms for the novel and drama—in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation." He was elected Saoi of Aosdána in 1984.

Works

Molloy
Molloy
Samuel Beckett
The Unnamable
The Unnamable
Samuel Beckett
Watt
Samuel Beckett
Malone Dies
Malone Dies
Samuel Beckett
Texts for Nothing
Samuel Beckett
Three Dialogues
Samuel Beckett
Krapp's Last Tape
Samuel Beckett
Worstward Ho
Worstward Ho
Samuel Beckett
Murphy
Murphy
Samuel Beckett
Proust
Proust
Samuel Beckett

„I wish them all an atrocious life and then the fires and ice of hell and in the execrable generations to come an honoured name.“

—  Samuel Beckett, book Malone Dies

Malone Dies (1951)
Context: Let me say before I go any further that I forgive nobody. I wish them all an atrocious life and then the fires and ice of hell and in the execrable generations to come an honoured name.

„Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.“

—  Samuel Beckett, book Worstward Ho

Worstward Ho (1983)
Context: All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.

„I am such a good man, at bottom, such a good man, how is it that nobody ever noticed it?“

—  Samuel Beckett, book Malone Dies

Malone Dies (1951)
Context: Or I might be able to catch one, a little girl for example, and half strangle her, three quarters, until she promises to give me my stick, give me soup, empty my pots, kiss me, fondle me, smile to me, give me my hat, stay with me, follow the hearse weeping into her handkerchief, that would be nice. I am such a good man, at bottom, such a good man, how is it that nobody ever noticed it?

„By nature I mean here, like the naïvest realist, a composite of perceiver and perceived, not a datum, an experience.“

—  Samuel Beckett, book Three Dialogues

Also quoted in "Beckett and Failure", in Realism, Issue 5 (June 2011) http://www.hypocritereader.com/5/beckett-and-failure
Three Dialogues (1949)
Context: By nature I mean here, like the naïvest realist, a composite of perceiver and perceived, not a datum, an experience. All I wish to suggest is that the tendency and accomplishment of this painting are fundamentally those of previous painting, straining to enlarge the statement of a compromise.

„For had I been able to conceive something worse than what I had I would have known no peace until I got it, if I know anything about myself.“

—  Samuel Beckett, book Molloy

Molloy (1951)
Context: Anything worse than what I do, without knowing what, or why, I have never been able to conceive, and that doesn’t surprise me, for I never tried. For had I been able to conceive something worse than what I had I would have known no peace until I got it, if I know anything about myself.

„I only see what appears close beside me, what I best see I see ill.“

—  Samuel Beckett, book The Unnamable

The Unnamable (1954)
Context: In order to obtain the optimum view of what takes place in front of me, I should have to lower my eyes a little. But I lower my eyes no more. In a word, I only see what appears close beside me, what I best see I see ill.

„Some of this rubbish has come in handy on occasions, I don’t deny it, on occasions which would never have arisen if they had left me in peace. I use it still, to scratch my arse with.“

—  Samuel Beckett, book The Unnamable

The Unnamable (1954)
Context: What they were most determined for me to swallow was my fellow creatures. In this they were without mercy. I remember little or nothing of these lectures. I cannot have understood a great deal. But I seem to have retained certain descriptions, in spite of myself. They gave me courses on love, on intelligence, most precious, most precious. They also taught me to count, and even to reason. Some of this rubbish has come in handy on occasions, I don’t deny it, on occasions which would never have arisen if they had left me in peace. I use it still, to scratch my arse with.

„Nohow less. Nohow worse. Nohow naught. Nohow on.“

—  Samuel Beckett, book Worstward Ho

Worstward Ho (1983)
Context: Enough. Sudden enough. Sudden all far. No move and sudden all far. All least. Three pins. One pinhole. In dimmost dim. Vasts apart. At bounds of boundless void. Whence no farther. Best worse no farther. Nohow less. Nohow worse. Nohow naught. Nohow on.

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„I played the part, you know, the part of — how shall I say, I don’t know.“

—  Samuel Beckett

The End (1946)
Context: I knew it would soon be the end, so I played the part, you know, the part of — how shall I say, I don’t know.

„Saying is inventing. Wrong, very rightly wrong.“

—  Samuel Beckett, book Molloy

Molloy (1951)
Context: And truly it little matters what I say, this or that or any other thing. Saying is inventing. Wrong, very rightly wrong. You invent nothing, you think you are inventing, you think you are escaping, and all you do is stammer out your lesson, the remnants of a pensum one day got by heart and long forgotten, life without tears, as it is wept.

„What I assert, deny, question, in the present, I still can.“

—  Samuel Beckett, book Molloy

Molloy (1951)
Context: What I assert, deny, question, in the present, I still can. But mostly I shall use the various tenses of the past. For mostly I do not know, it is perhaps no longer so, it is too soon to know, I simply do not know, perhaps shall never know.

„Watch wound and buried by the watchmaker, before he died, whose ruined works will one day speak of God, to the worms.“

—  Samuel Beckett, book Molloy

Molloy (1951)
Context: My life, my life, now I speak of it as of something over, now as of a joke which still goes on, and it is neither, for at the same time it is over and it goes on, and is there any tense for that? Watch wound and buried by the watchmaker, before he died, whose ruined works will one day speak of God, to the worms.

„To decompose is to live too, I know, I know, don't torment me, but one sometimes forgets.“

—  Samuel Beckett, book Molloy

Molloy (1951)
Context: To decompose is to live too, I know, I know, don't torment me, but one sometimes forgets. And of that life too I shall tell you perhaps one day, the day I know that when I thought I knew I was merely existing and that passion without form or stations will have devoured me down to the rotting flesh itself and that when I know that I know nothing, am only crying out as I have always cried out, more or less piercingly, more or less openly. Let me cry out then, it's said to be good for you. Yes let me cry out, this time, then another time perhaps, then perhaps a last time.

„They didn’t say in so many words that I was as well as I would ever be, but that was the implication.“

—  Samuel Beckett

The End (1946)
Context: I didn’t feel well, but they told me I was well enough. They didn’t say in so many words that I was as well as I would ever be, but that was the implication.

„What makes me weep so? From time to time. There is nothing saddening here.“

—  Samuel Beckett, book The Unnamable

The Unnamable (1954)
Context: The tears stream down my cheeks from my unblinking eyes. What makes me weep so? From time to time. There is nothing saddening here. Perhaps it is liquefied brain.

„Let me cry out then, it's said to be good for you. Yes let me cry out, this time, then another time perhaps, then perhaps a last time.“

—  Samuel Beckett, book Molloy

Molloy (1951)
Context: To decompose is to live too, I know, I know, don't torment me, but one sometimes forgets. And of that life too I shall tell you perhaps one day, the day I know that when I thought I knew I was merely existing and that passion without form or stations will have devoured me down to the rotting flesh itself and that when I know that I know nothing, am only crying out as I have always cried out, more or less piercingly, more or less openly. Let me cry out then, it's said to be good for you. Yes let me cry out, this time, then another time perhaps, then perhaps a last time.

„I did my best to go in a circle, hoping in this way to go in a straight line.“

—  Samuel Beckett, book Molloy

Molloy (1951)
Context: Having heard, or more probably read somewhere, in the days when I thought I would be well advised to educate myself, or amuse myself, or stupefy myself, or kill time, that when a man in a forest thinks he is going forward in a straight line, in reality he is going in a circle, I did my best to go in a circle, hoping in this way to go in a straight line. For I stopped being half-witted and became sly, whenever I took the trouble … and if I did not go in a rigorously straight line, with my system of going in a circle, at least I did not go in a circle, and that was something.

„Personally of course I regret everything.“

—  Samuel Beckett, book Watt

Part I, p. 37
Watt (1943)
Context: Personally of course I regret everything. Not a word, not a deed, not a thought, not a need, not a grief, not a joy, not a girl, not a boy, not a doubt, not a trust, not a scorn, not a lust, not a hope, not a fear, not a smile, not a tear, not a name, not a face, no time, no place, that I do not regret, exceedingly. An ordure, from beginning to end.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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