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    • Thread Starter

    Hey everyone!

    I have an essay to do on the following question:

    "How important is historical context to an understanding of the work of Samuel Beckett?"

    My tutor has told me to use around three of his works so I've chosen 'Endgame', 'Happy Days', and 'Texts For Nothing' as these are the ones we have covered most so far.

    I have found some info (Books/Journals) on Endgame and how it relates to the Holocaust and how it portrays the historical influence WWII and Nazi Germany had on Beckett, but I'm getting really stuck on the other two, especially Texts for Nothing!

    I thought maybe the Cold War and Nuclear fear could play a part too?

    So if anyone could offer any ideas/opinions or books/journals/online resources to use I would be so thankful.

    Thank you!
    • Thread Starter

    Any ideas at all anyone?!

    Endgame has quite widely diverse interpretations depending on which critics you read - the Holocaust scenario is just one of them - and not necessarily the most accepted either. There's nothing wrong with going that route but you should be aware that it's a play which almost defies definitive interpretation so there is no need to adhere to a rigid concept of what it's about. Suggesting it has a straightforward interpretation as a Holocaust narrative would just imply that you don't really understand Beckett's work which is highly experimental and defies interpretation.

    Taking your title - I would suggest looking at literary history rather than history. Look at the literary context in which he wrote. His work is incredibly experimental - he was at the forefront of the move beyond modernism towards postmodernism. Beckett's work is rich in intertextual references generally. Taking the Eliot link - time is important (think Bergson) - nostalgia/futility/freedom - all issues which the play touches on. His work is in constant dialogue with what Eliot referred to as the 'literary tradition'. Thus historical context (in a literary sense) is extremely important to his work - and you can see it clearly in all 3 of your texts.
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