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Writing Modern Ireland$
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Catherine E Paul

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780989082693

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9780989082693.001.0001

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date: 20 October 2017

Beckett’s Discovery of Theater: Human Wishes and the Dramaturgical Contexts of Eleutheria

Beckett’s Discovery of Theater: Human Wishes and the Dramaturgical Contexts of Eleutheria

Chapter:
(p.29) Beckett’s Discovery of Theater: Human Wishes and the Dramaturgical Contexts of Eleutheria
Source:
Writing Modern Ireland
Author(s):

Michael J. Sidnell

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9780989082693.003.0003

This essay examines Samuel Beckett's discovery of theater, a public form that would make his career, by focusing on two of his works: Human Wishes (1937) and Eleutheria (1947). It considers how Beckett began research for a play about Samuel Johnson; his extensive preparatory notes for the play imply that the critical linkage for him was biography and dramatic form, rather than dramatic form and theater. It shows that Beckett first began to write for the stage in 1937, culminating in Human Wishes. It also discusses the dramaturgical contexts of Eleutheria, in which most of the characters have a clear parodic affiliation with the drame bourgeois. Finally, it explores Eleutheria's intextual relationship with Roger Vitrac's Victor ou Les enfants au pouvoir (1928), suggesting that Beckett's play amounts to a respectful updating of Victor to radical effect both dramaturgically and philosophically.

Keywords:   theater, Samuel Beckett, Human Wishes, Eleutheria, Samuel Johnson, biography, drama, drame bourgeois, Roger Vitrac, Victor ou Les enfants au pouvoir

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