They Can't Go On, They'll Go On: Events Mark the Centennial of Samuel Beckett's Birth


During the next several months, a number of festivals, exhibitions, and publications will mark the centennial of Samuel Beckett’s birth. Beckett, the poet, novelist, and playwright who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969, was born in Dublin on April 13, 1906. In the late 1930s he moved permanently to Paris and died there on December 22, 1989. His most famous work, the play Waiting for Godot, was performed in Paris in 1953. The following is a partial list of centennial events.

• From April 5 to April 9, Trinity College in Dublin will host the Beckett Centenary Symposium, which will include panel discussions by scholars and artists from around the world. Beckett earned a degree in Modern Languages from Trinity College in 1927. For more information about the symposium, click here.

• The Gate Theatre in Dublin and the Barbican Centre in London will host performances of Beckett's plays and readings, lectures, and musical performances until May 6. The featured plays include Catastrophe, Come and Go, Eh Joe, Endgame, Footfalls, Krapp's Last Tape, Play, Ohio Impromptu, Rockaby, and Waiting for Godot.

• The Irish Film Institute in Dublin will hold screenings of film versions of Beckett's plays Catastrophe, Come and Go, Eh Joe, Krapp’s Last Tape, and Play until May 6. For more information, click here.

• From April through September, exhibitions of visual art, manuscripts, correspondence, and performances of music will be held in Dublin at the Trinity Library, the National Gallery, and the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

• On April 2, Oscar-winning film director Anthony Minghella will host a Gala Evening at the Reading Town Hall in Reading, England, featuring readings and performances of Beckett’s work by actors Jude Law and Alan Rickman. For more information, click here.

• The exhibition “Samuel Beckett—The Irish European,” featuring items from the University of Reading’s Beckett Collection, will be held at Reading Museum until June 25. The exhibit includes rare items such as unpublished notebooks, personal items, and an audio recording of Beckett reading—donated to the collection by a producer at the BBC—that has never been played in public.

• In April, Grove/Atlantic will publish a French-English bilingual edition of Waiting for Godot. Beckett wrote the play in French and translated it himself, choosing to revise and eliminate certain passages, and the bilingual edition will allow for a side-by-side comparison. The publisher will also release a series of Grove Centenary editions, consisting of two collections of novels, an anthology of dramatic works, and an anthology of poems, short fiction, and criticism. Edited by Paul Auster, the series will include introductions by Edward Albee, J.M. Coetzee, Salman Rushdie, and Colm Tóibin, and will be available in four individual books and a boxed set.

• Also in April, Irish Public Radio (RTÉ) will issue a boxed set of CDs featuring actor Barry McGovern reading Beckett’s novels Molloy (The Olympia Press, 1955), Malone Dies (Grove Press, 1956) and The Unnamable (Grove Press, 1956).