Waiting for Godot

play by Samuel Beckett

Waiting for Godot (/ˈɡɒd/ GOD-oh)[1] is a play by Samuel Beckett. In 1998, it was voted the "most significant English-language play of the 20th century".[2][3]

Avignon Festival, 1978. Rufus (Estragon) and Georges Wilson (Vladimir) / photograph by Fernand Michaud.

Waiting for Godot is Beckett's translation of his own original French-language play, En attendant Godot. The original French text was composed between 9 October 1948 and 29 January 1949.[4]

The play has two main characters, Estragon (Gogo) and Vladimir (Didi). They talk about many things while waiting for Godot. Two other characters come on stage. Pozzo is leading Lucky on a long rope. Lucky does not speak until Pozzo orders him to. Then Lucky gives a very long speech about something or nothing. A boy comes on stage and says that Godot will not come today but will come tomorrow. The next day, Vladimir and Estragon talk more. Pozzo and Lucky come again, but they have changed. A boy comes on stage and says that Godot will not come today but will come tomorrow. Vladimir and Estragon try to kill themselves but can't do it. They decide to leave, but they don't move. The play ends.[5]

Sources and influences change

  • Racine's Bérénice is a play "in which nothing happens for five acts".[6] In the preface to this play Racine writes: "All creativity consists in making something out of nothing". Beckett was a keen scholar of the 17th-century playwright, and lectured on him at Trinity College Dublin.
  • The title character of Balzac's 1851 play Mercadet waits for financial salvation from his never-seen business partner, Godeau. Although Beckett was familiar with Balzac's prose, he insisted that he learned of the play after finishing Waiting for Godot.
  • The protagonists in Beckett's novel Mercier and Camier may be the prototypes of Vladimir and Estragon. "If you want to find the origins of Godot", he told Colin Duckworth once, "look at Murphy".[7]

References change

  1. Piepenburg, Erik (30 April 2009). "Anthony Page of Waiting for Godot Teaches Us How to Pronounce Its Title". The New York Times.
  2. "Waiting for Godot voted best modern play in English" by David Lister, The Independent, 18 October 1998
  3. Clive Barker; Simon Trussler, eds. (2000). "NT 2000: the Need to Make Meaning". New Theatre Quarterly. 16 (2). Cambridge University Press: 192–193. doi:10.1017/S0266464X00013713. ISBN 9780521789028. S2CID 191153800.
  4. Ackerley and Gontarski (2006). The Faber Companion to Samuel Beckett. London: Faber and Faber. pp. 172. ISBN 978-0571227389.
  5. Patterson, Michael (2015). "Waiting for Godot". Oxford Reference - The Oxford Dictionary of Plays. Retrieved February 11, 2023.
  6. Mercier V. 1999. Beckett/Beckett. London: Souvenir Press, p. 74.
  7. Cooke V. (ed) Beckett on File (London: Methuen, 1985) p.14