Krapp's Last Tape
On this day in 1958 Samuel Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape was first performed. According to the authorized biography (Damned to Fame, James Knowlson, 1996), it was one of the author's favorite works -- a "nicely sad and sentimental" play about which he felt "as an old hen with her last chick,":
It will be like the little heart of an artichoke served before the tripes with excrement of Hamm and Clov. People will say: good gracious, there is blood circulating in the old man's veins after all, one would never have believed it; he must be getting old."
- Samuel Beckett, letters
Samuel Beckett’s work has extended the possibilities of drama and fiction in unprecedented ways, bringing to the theatre and the novel an acute awareness of the absurdity of human existence – our desperate search for meaning, our individual isolation, and the gulf between our desires and the language in which they find expression. Educated in Ireland, North and South, he settled afterwards in Paris and produced his fiction and drama in English and French, translating himself out of the language in which he first wrote each text. Having begun literary life as a modernist and promoter of the reputations of Proust and Joyce, in the years before and after the Second World War he found his own voice (“began to write what I feel”) and continued to develop this voice unstintingly and without compromise until the year of his death.*
Krapp's Last Tape by Samuel Beckett. Random House, New York. 1960 (1958)
*Davies, Paul. "Samuel Beckett". The Literary Encyclopedia. 8 January 2001.