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The Plays of Samuel Beckett

Katherine Weiss

DOI: 10.5040/9781408189504

ISBN: 9781408145579

Beckett remains one of the most important writers of the twentieth century whose radical experimentations in form and content won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969. This Critical Companion encompasses his plays for the stage, radio and television, and will be indispensable to students of his work.

Challenging and at times perplexing, Beckett's work is represented on almost every literature, theatre and Irish studies curriculum in universities in North America, Europe and Australia. Katherine Weiss' admirably clear study of his work provides the perfect companion, illuminating each play and Beckett's vision, and investigating his experiments with the body, voice and technology. It includes in-depth studies of the major works Waiting for Godot, Endgame and Krapp's Last Tape, and as with other volumes in Methuen Drama's Critical Companions series it features too a series of essays by other scholars and practitioners offering different critical perspectives on Beckett in performance that will inform students' own critical thinking. Together with a series of resources including a chronology and a list of further reading, this is ideal for all students and readers of Beckett's work.

At this critical moment, The Plays of Samuel Beckett by Katherine Weiss seeks to re-evaluate Beckett's playwriting… As Weiss's volume makes clear, drama departments and practitioners of Beckett's theatre may have dominated the first generation of Beckett scholars, but have been noticeably thin on the ground [in recent years]. The Plays of Samuel Beckett attempts to redress the balance, by showing that Godot comprises only one part in Beckett's ongoing development as a writer and also by emphasizing the value of discussing Beckett's work in terms of drama and performance. Times Literary Supplement

Weiss's new book concisely analyses twenty of the Irish writer's dramatic works while also providing clarity in interpretation both for those intimately familiar with and newcomers to Beckett. Weiss effectively opens important dialogues with established critics and also contributes new perspectives Theatre Research International, vol. 39

Weiss's project entails a rather complex weave of ideas … [she] welcomingly bears the philosophical weight of not just Herren's but of all the contributors perspectives, engaging each in her own heavy take on Beckett's drama. Text and Presentation

The utility of Weiss's book therefore is in its exhaustive coverage of the plays and the collection of critical essays and interviews featuring distinguished Beckett scholars and performers … What this review cannot properly convey is Weiss's deft navigation of theory and philosophy … Weiss leads us on a tour of Beckett, surveying many major works, key criticism, and dramaturgy. The book is a manual for judicious practices in Beckett criticism, proffering an entry point into Beckett's oeuvre. Mondal