Samuel Beckett


Samuel Beckett

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Samuel Beckett
The Nobel Prize in Literature 1969

Born: 13 April 1906, Dublin, Ireland

Died: 22 December 1989, Paris, France

Residence at the time of the award: Ireland

Prize motivation: “for his writing, which - in new forms for the novel and drama - in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation”

Language: English; French

Prize share: 1/1


Samuel Beckett was born in a suburb of Dublin, Ireland. He worked as a teacher of French at Trinity College, Dublin, and École Normale Supèrieure in Paris, where he also settled permanently in 1938. In his writing he alternated between English and French and translated his own works. During World War II he joined the resistance and was forced to flee to the French countryside. Toward the end of the war, he worked as a volunteer for the Red Cross. Beckett’s major literary breakthrough came during the 1950s, when he wrote a series of groundbreaking plays and novels.


Samuel Beckett produced his most important works—four novels, two dramas, a collection of short stories, essays, and art criticism—during an intensely creative period in the late 1940s. Irishman Beckett had settled in France and wrote in both French and English. His experiences during World War II—insecurity, confusion, exile, hunger, deprivation—came to shape his writing. In his most famous work, the drama Waiting for Godot, he examines the most basic foundations of our lives with strikingly dark humor.

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