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Modern Literature Collection Authors

A guide to the Modern Literature Collection's most prominent authors and collections, with related resources.

Biography

beckettSamuel Beckett (1906-1989) was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet, who lived in France for the most of his adult life. Writing in English and French, Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1969, "for his writing, which - in new forms for the novel and drama - in the destitution of modern man acquires its elevation."* His best-known play, En attendant Godot (Waiting for Godot) (1953) is a comic study of philosophical uncertainty, and, like much of his work, focuses on the absurdity of human existence. Beckett graduated from Dublin’s Trinity College in 1927 and settled in Paris, where he worked with James Joyce and published short stories and the novel Murphy (1938). During World War II, he joined the French Resistance and was eventually forced to leave Paris, but after the war he returned and wrote most of his important works, including Godot, the prose trilogy Molloy (1951), Malone Dies (Malone Meurt, 1951) and The Unnamable (L’Innommable, 1953), and the play Endgame (Fin de Partie, 1957). Never exactly mainstream, Beckett is widely recognized as one of the most important European writers of the 20th century for his influence on modern literature and for his ability to impress, shock and confound.

*The Nobel Prize in Literature 1969. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2020. Wed. 13 May 2020. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/1969/summary/>

Finding Aids

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Additional Beckett Resources (external links)

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