Waiting for Godot (Samuel Beckett)

Waiting for Godot is a play by Samuel Beckett. He originally wrote it in French, then translated it to English himself.

Vladimir and Estragon are sitting in the middle for nowhere, waiting for Godot who will have a proposal for them that can drastically change their lives. It’s unclear how long they’ve been waiting but it seems to be a pretty long time. They pass the time with partly comical, partly tragic, partly non-sensical banter, joined for a short period by the pompous Pozzo and his slave Lucky.

Waiting for Godot is interesting. And even though (or maybe because) it is mostly incomprehensible very open to interpretation, it carries a certain punch, an emotional impact. Sometimes it’s really funny, but mostly the laughter just dies in your throat.

As I mentioned before, I read the play in preparation for seeing it (more on the stage version tomorrow). As most plays, it’s a rather quick read. Though I have a trilingual edition with French and English on one page and the German version on the other and in the beginning I was torn between what language to read it in… I started out in French, then changed to English and finally ended up reading it in German, because I’m lazy sometimes. [Though I did look at some things where I wondered about the translation.]*

Anyways, the relationship Estragon and Vladimir have is really interesting. Estragon seems to be suffering from PTSD (probably from being beaten up regularly) and Beckett has a rather poignant way of pointing this out. Like here:

ESTRAGON: Don’t touch me! Don’t question me! Don’t speak to me! Stay with me!!
VLADIMIR: Did I ever leave you?
ESTRAGON: You let me go.

Vladimir takes care of Estragon the best he can, though when it gets too much for him, he uses violence to make room for himself.

I have to admit that reading it, it struck me to be a tragedy much more than seeing it. But more on the comparison tomorrow.

Ultimately, I think that Waiting for Godot is a play that wants to be seen, not read. Reading it might be the ideal way to get a better understanding for it, after having seen it but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend reading it beforehand.

*Another note on my edition (from Suhrkamp): it had an utterly incomprehensible introduction by Joachim Kaiser [German], that ended with the assumption that Beckett isn’t as famous in Eastern Europe because the people there are too poor [paraphrasing], which is of course a load of crap. I recommend skipping the introduction altogether as nothing is gained anyway from reading this prime specimen of intellectual masturbation.

6 thoughts on “Waiting for Godot (Samuel Beckett)

  1. I thought “Waiting for Godot” boring and absurde. But I was 12 when I read it, maybe I was just too young… Doesn’t someone hang himself in the play?

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