A central figure in modern English, French, and Irish literature—who drew inspiration from the Italian and French canon throughout his life—Samuel Beckett enjoys international acclaim as the author of En attendant Godot (1952) and Fin de partie (1957), two of the world’s most frequently staged modern plays. The potential influence of a scholarly literature on him that rivals the critical work on his friend James Joyce (the most studied modern writer in English) did not undermine his ability to reach a world audience. Admiration from critics, a Nobel Prize (1969), and 50 years of international scrutiny of his work and private life have only increased Beckett’s eminence.
He was born at Foxrock, outside Dublin, on April 13, 1906, to prosperous Protestant merchants and builders established among Ireland’s elite. His father, Frank, was a quantity surveyor, a type of architectural and engineering consultant for construction projects. May, Beckett’s beloved and difficult mother, had been Frank’s nurse while he recovered from an illness and a failed love affair (Beckett found a mate in somewhat similar circumstances). Beckett’s first culture was thereby that of an Irish gentry passionate about country pleasures, drinking, and sport. His mother was skilled at acerbic verbal sparring, and his father was a hearty raconteur—stereotypical Irish styles of wit reflected in Beckett’s work (Cronin, Samuel Beckett: The Last Modernist, 13–56).
Although from childhood he was happiest when alone, Beckett excelled at cricket, tennis, and boxing. His athleticism matched a love of the physical comedy of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, a fondness
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Publication information: Book title: Multicultural Writers since 1945:An A-To-Z Guide. Contributors: Alba Amoia - Editor, Bettina L. Knapp - Editor. Publisher: Greenwood Press. Place of publication: Westport, CT. Publication year: 2004. Page number: 70.
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