Originally published in transition 49 in 1949, Three Dialogues represents a small part (fewer than 3000 words) of a correspondence between Samuel Beckett and Georges Duthuit about the nature of contemporary art, with particular reference to the work of Pierre Tal-Coat, André Masson and Bram van Velde. It might more accurately be said that beneath these surface references may be found an invaluable commentary on Beckett's own struggle with expression at a particularly creative and pivotal period of his life. A frequently quoted example is the following recommendation, ostensibly for what Tal Coat's work should strive towards: "The expression that there is nothing to express, nothing with which to express, nothing from which to express, no power to express, no desire to express, together with the obligation to express."
transition was an experimental literary journal that featured surrealist, expressionist, and Dada art and artists. It was founded in 1927 by Maria McDonald and her husband Eugene Jolas and published in Paris. They were later assisted by editors Elliot Paul, Robert Sage, and James Johnson Sweeney.
Samuel Barclay Beckett was an Irish novelist, playwright, short story writer, theatre director, poet, and literary translator who lived in Paris for most of his adult life. He wrote in both English and French.
Georges Duthuit (1891–1973) was a French writer, art critic and historian.
A great strength of these dialogues is the wit of both participants, combined with Duthuit's persistent and intelligent challenges to Beckett's pessimism, as in his reply to the above recommendation: "But that is a violently extreme and personal point of view, of no help to us in the matter of Tal Coat." Beckett's only answer to that is, appropriately enough, silence.
Dialogue is a written or spoken conversational exchange between two or more people, and a literary and theatrical form that depicts such an exchange. As a narrative, philosophical or didactic device, it is chiefly associated in the West with the Socratic dialogue as developed by Plato, but antecedents are also found in other traditions including Indian literature.
Roughly, the scheme of the dialogues is as follows. Beckett is critical first of Tal Coat and then of Masson (both of whom Duthuit defends and admires) for continuing the failures of the traditional art which they claim to challenge or reject. By way of contrast, he holds up the work of his friend Bram van Velde, although Duthuit appears exasperated (or mock-exasperated) that Beckett's commentary seems continually to refer back to his own preoccupations: "Try and bear in mind that the subject under discussion is not yourself..."
Other revealing comments made by Beckett in the dialogues include: "I speak of an art turning from [the plane of the feasible] in disgust, weary of its puny exploits, weary of pretending to be able, of being able, of doing a little better the same old thing, of going a little further along a dreary road."He also speaks of his "dream of an art unresentful of its insuperable indigence and too proud for the farce of giving and receiving."
Despite the unrelenting pessimism of Beckett's arguments, these dialogues are charged with a self-deprecating good humour that help to throw light on the fundamental paradox of seeking (and finding) brilliantly expressive ways to express that nothing meaningful can ever be expressed. At the end of the first dialogue, Beckett's silence is met with Duthuit's rejoinder that "perhaps that is enough for today"); at the end of the second, Beckett "exits weeping" when Duthuit asks, "Are we really to deplore the painting that is rallying, among all the things of time that pass and hurry us away, towards a time that endures and gives increase?"; the third ends with Beckett remembering warmly that, "I am mistaken, I am mistaken."
Pessimism is a mental attitude in which an undesirable outcome is anticipated from a given situation. Pessimists tend to focus on the negatives of life in general. A common question asked to test for pessimism is "Is the glass half empty or half full?"; in this situation a pessimist is said to see the glass as half empty, while an optimist is said to see the glass as half full. Throughout history, the pessimistic disposition has had effects on all major areas of thinking.
Waiting for Godot is a play by Samuel Beckett, in which two characters, Vladimir (Didi) and Estragon (Gogo), wait for the arrival of someone named Godot who never arrives, and while waiting they engage in a variety of discussions and encounter three other characters. Waiting for Godot is Beckett's translation of his own original French play, En attendant Godot, and is subtitled "a tragicomedy in two acts". The original French text was composed between 9 October 1948 and 29 January 1949. The premiere was on 5 January 1953 at the Théâtre de Babylone, Paris. The English language version was premiered in London in 1955. In a poll conducted by the British Royal National Theatre in 1990 it was voted the "most significant English language play of the 20th century".
Play is a one-act play by Samuel Beckett. It was written between 1962 and 1963 and first produced in German as Spiel on 14 June 1963 at the Ulmer Theatre in Ulm-Donau, Germany, directed by Deryk Mendel, with Nancy Illig (W1), Sigfrid Pfeiffer (W2) and Gerhard Winter (M). The first performance in English was on 7 April 1964 at the Old Vic in London.
Come and Go is a short play by Samuel Beckett. It was written in English in January 1965 and first performed at the Schillertheater, Berlin on 14 January 1966. Its English language premiere was at the Peacock Theatre, Dublin on 28 February 1966, and its British premiere was at the Royal Festival Hall in London on 9 December 1968. It was written for and dedicated to the publisher John Calder.
Ohio Impromptu is a "playlet" by Samuel Beckett.
Catastrophe is a short play by Samuel Beckett, written in French in 1982 at the invitation of A.I.D.A. and “[f]irst produced in the Avignon Festival … Beckett considered it ‘massacred.’” It is one of his few plays to deal with a political theme and, arguably, holds the title of Beckett's most optimistic work. It was dedicated to then imprisoned Czech reformer and playwright, Václav Havel.
What Where is Samuel Beckett's last play produced following a request for a new work for the 1983 Autumn Festival in Graz, Austria. It was written between February and March 1983 initially in French as Quoi où and translated by Beckett himself.
Bram van Velde was a Dutch painter known for an intensely colored and geometric semi-representational painting style related to Tachisme, and Lyrical Abstraction. He is often seen as member of the School of Paris but his work resides somewhere between expressionism and surrealism, and evolved in the 1960s into an expressive abstract art. His paintings from the 1950s are similar to the contemporary work of Matisse, Picasso and the abstract expressionist Adolph Gottlieb. He was championed by a number of French-speaking writers, including Samuel Beckett and the poet André du Bouchet.
André du Bouchet was a French poet.
Rough for Theatre I is a one-act theatrical sketch by Samuel Beckett. Also known simply as Theatre I it began life originally in French in the late fifties as Fragment de théâtre and was later translated into English by Beckett himself. The first production was at the Schiller Theatre, Hamburg in 1979, directed by Walter Asmus. It was staged as Fragment for Theater I at the Magic Theater, San Francisco in September 1986 by Stan Gontarski with Robert Wagner (A) and Tom Luce (B).
For the song "That Time" by Regina Spektor see Begin to Hope
Samuel Beckett wrote the radio play, Words and Music between November and December 1961. It was recorded and broadcast on the BBC Third Programme on 13 November 1962. Patrick Magee played Words and Felix Felton, Croak. Music was composed especially by John S. Beckett. The play first appeared in print in Evergreen Review 6.27. Beckett himself translated the work into French under the title Paroles et Musique.
From An Abandoned Work, a "meditation for radio" by Samuel Beckett, was first broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Third Programme on Saturday, 14 December 1957 together with a selection from the novel Molloy. Donald McWhinnie, who already had a great success with All That Fall, directed the Irish actor Patrick Magee.
Disjecta: Miscellaneous Writings and a Dramatic Fragment is a collection of previously uncollected writings by Samuel Beckett, spanning his entire career. The title is derived from the Latin phrase "disjecta membra," meaning scattered remains or fragments, usually applied to written work. The essays appear in their original language of composition, as stipulated by Beckett, since the volume is intended for scholars who should be able to read several languages. Beckett himself did not value these pieces much, seeing them as "mere products of friendly obligation or economic need".
Rough for Radio II is a radio play by Samuel Beckett. It was written in French in 1961 as Pochade radiophonique and published in Minuit 16, November 1975. Beckett translated the work into English shortly before its broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 13 April 1976. Martin Esslin directed Harold Pinter, Billie Whitelaw (Stenographer) and Patrick Magee (Fox). The English-language version was first published in Ends and Odds as Radio II.
Charles Juliet in Jujurieux in Ain, is a French poet, playwright and novelist. He won the 2013 Prix Goncourt de la Poésie.
Pierre Tal-Coat was a French artist considered to be one of the founders of Tachisme.
Imagination Dead Imagine is a short prose text by Samuel Beckett first published in French in Les Lettres nouvelles in 1965. Its first English publication was a translation in The Sunday Times in 1965 followed by a trade edition by Beckett's London-based publisher, Calder and Boyars, later that year.
Derrière le Miroir is a French art magazine created in 1946 and published until 1982. Art galleries, auction houses and booksellers often refer to this art magazine simply as D.L.M. or DLM.