'(Un)Sung Heroes in the Drama of Samuel Beckett' in Heroism and Passion in Literature edited by Graham Gargett Rodopi, Amsterdam-New York, 2004, pp.209-219

Gerald Macklin

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

    Abstract

    This chapter looks at three plays by Samuel Beckett - Oh les beaux jours, La Dernière bande and Quad - in order to highlight his emphasis on resilience, stoicism and "going on". In the case of Winnie in Oh les beaux jours it is the disparity between her awful circumstances and her forced optimism and cheerfulness that is relevant. She is indeed an "unsung heroine" in the face of the human condition but persists even in Act 2 where her situation becomes dramatically worse. In another sense she is a "sung heroine" because her song is one of her resources, the "heure exquise" from The Merry Widow helping her to end her day. With La Dernière bande we have Krapp as a representation of the ravages of life, time and old age but again he is an "unsung hero" who fights on against physical and mental decline. He also refers to the possible song of an old woman and this raises again the idea of singing in the face of adversity. Finally, Krapp himself sings a Vespers hymn in what is like a swan song as death nears. Krapp's human tragedy of isolation and decay is ultimately a musicalized and sung tragedy. Finally, in the case of Quad we have a minimalist drama with no dialogue but forms of musical accompaniment to the shuffling and coming and going of four players. These four represent the mass of humanity pushing on through the pain and meaningless of life with stoic heroism and they are unacclaimed warriors. Each of the four has his/her internalized music to help them through life and so they, like Winnie and Krapp, exemplify Beckett's dictum : "Quand on est dans la merde jusqu'au cou, il ne reste plus qu'à chanter."
    LanguageEnglish
    Title of host publicationHeroism and Passion in Literature
    Pages209-219
    Publication statusPublished - 2004

    Fingerprint

    Song
    Passion
    Amsterdam
    Hero
    Heroism
    Drama
    Samuel Beckett
    Heroine
    Tragedy
    Accompaniment
    Hymn
    Stoicism
    Vespers
    Physical
    Isolation
    Stoics
    Widows
    Optimism
    Decay
    Resources

    Keywords

    • drama
    • heroism
    • stoicism
    • music
    • song

    Cite this

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    title = "'(Un)Sung Heroes in the Drama of Samuel Beckett' in Heroism and Passion in Literature edited by Graham Gargett Rodopi, Amsterdam-New York, 2004, pp.209-219",
    abstract = "This chapter looks at three plays by Samuel Beckett - Oh les beaux jours, La Derni{\`e}re bande and Quad - in order to highlight his emphasis on resilience, stoicism and {"}going on{"}. In the case of Winnie in Oh les beaux jours it is the disparity between her awful circumstances and her forced optimism and cheerfulness that is relevant. She is indeed an {"}unsung heroine{"} in the face of the human condition but persists even in Act 2 where her situation becomes dramatically worse. In another sense she is a {"}sung heroine{"} because her song is one of her resources, the {"}heure exquise{"} from The Merry Widow helping her to end her day. With La Derni{\`e}re bande we have Krapp as a representation of the ravages of life, time and old age but again he is an {"}unsung hero{"} who fights on against physical and mental decline. He also refers to the possible song of an old woman and this raises again the idea of singing in the face of adversity. Finally, Krapp himself sings a Vespers hymn in what is like a swan song as death nears. Krapp's human tragedy of isolation and decay is ultimately a musicalized and sung tragedy. Finally, in the case of Quad we have a minimalist drama with no dialogue but forms of musical accompaniment to the shuffling and coming and going of four players. These four represent the mass of humanity pushing on through the pain and meaningless of life with stoic heroism and they are unacclaimed warriors. Each of the four has his/her internalized music to help them through life and so they, like Winnie and Krapp, exemplify Beckett's dictum : {"}Quand on est dans la merde jusqu'au cou, il ne reste plus qu'{\`a} chanter.{"}",
    keywords = "drama, heroism, stoicism, music, song",
    author = "Gerald Macklin",
    note = "Reference text: Enoch Brater Why Beckett?, Thames and Hudson, London, 1989 No Author Better Served: The Correspondence of Samuel Beckett and Alan Schneider, ed. Maurice Harmon, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass. and London, 1998 A Alvarez Beckett Fontana/Collins, Glasgow, 1978 S Beckett Oh les beaux jours, Les Editions de Minuit, Paris, 1974. C Baudelaire 'Mon coeur mis {\`a} nu' in Oeuvres compl{\`e}tes 1, ed. Claude Pichois, Gallimard, Pl{\'e}iade, Paris, 1975 S Beckett Proust and Three Dialogues with GoergesDuthuit, John Calder, London, 1999 S Beckett La Derni{\`e}re bande suivi de Cendres, Les Editions de Minuit, Paris, 1959 Ill Seen Ill Sung, broadcast by BBC Radio 3, September 5, 1999 James Knowlson Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett, Bloomsbury, London, 1996 The Joke's On Us, BBC 2 Arena, 1989 S Beckett Worstward Ho, John Calder, London, 1999 S Beckett Quad in Samuel Beckett. The Complete Dramatic Works, Faber and Faber, London and Boston, 1990. S Beckett Cendres, Les Editions de Minuit, Paris, 1959",
    year = "2004",
    language = "English",
    isbn = "90-420-1692-2",
    pages = "209--219",
    booktitle = "Heroism and Passion in Literature",

    }

    '(Un)Sung Heroes in the Drama of Samuel Beckett' in Heroism and Passion in Literature edited by Graham Gargett Rodopi, Amsterdam-New York, 2004, pp.209-219. / Macklin, Gerald.

    Heroism and Passion in Literature. 2004. p. 209-219.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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