Out of Ireland: Revisionist Strategies in Beckett's Drama


Laura Barge


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

A deliberate and very public effort to situate Samuel Beckett within the Irish dramatic tradition occurred during the 1991 Dublin Theatre Festival when Michael Colgan, Director of the Gate Theatre, remarked that the moment had arrived "to introduce a Dublin Audience to this great writer who needs to be looked at in Ireland."1 Anyone familiar with this writer's history understands only too well Colgan's sense of the necessity of such an introduction. Beckett's personal, cultural, and aesthetic expatriation from Ireland is so adequately documented in the critical and biographical literature that it needs no reiteration here. Instead, we can remember that Beckett chooses early in his career not only to reject but also to insult-albeit with a humorous mockery-the Irish Celtic literary movement, that he forsakes Ireland as homeland in a biographically definitive manner, and that he deliberately adopts French as the language in which he writes. Thus Rodney Sharkey is surely on target when he claims that any effort attempting to "view Beckett in an Irish context cuts its own throat if it chooses to ignore" that Beckett's literary career was definitively formed by the philosophical and aesthetic culture of Europe.2 Embracing as early as 1934 the aesthetic credo that the writer must cut all ties with familial, national, and cultural origins in order to explore the interior of his own unique vision,3 Beckett early stakes out his literary path and its territory and never departs from it.

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