Posts Tagged ‘Samuel Beckett’

In R J Dent’s Library – Samuel Beckett

September 25, 2013


A look in R J Dent’s library at the works of Irish/French Nobel Laureate poet, novelist, essayist and dramatist – Samuel Beckett.




In R J Dent’s Library – Samuel Beckett

Text (c) R J Dent (2013)

Film (c) R J Dent (2013)

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Waiting For Godot by Samuel Beckett

March 30, 2009





One of the best plays I’ve ever seen performed is Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot.


The latest production, which stars Sir Ian McKellen as Estragon (Gogo), and Patrick Stewart as Vladimir (Didi), is currently touring the UK.


Simon Callow and Ronald Pickup also star (as Pozzo and Lucky respectively).


This particular production of Waiting For Godot certainly benefits from having such talented actors star in it – for McKellen and Stewart are able to successfully mine Beckett’s rather bleak tragic-comic play for its humorous elements.


During one of the performances, Gogo (played by McKellen) rolled up his trouser legs and took off his shoes. He then walked across the stage with a ministry-of-silly-walks-style gait – and it was obvious that Ian McKellen was enjoying himself immensely. It was at that point that I realized I was watching a Knight of the Realm at work. I suddenly found the whole thing as bizarre and as surreal as anything Samuel Beckett could have dreamed up.


After one of the performances, McKellen and Stewart did a mock-impromptu soft-shoe shuffle. It was all a bit music-hall, but very funny and quite moving, despite that.


The set is amazing – a ruined building in the background and the stage as a piece of waste ground with a single tree growing in it – that’s all there is, but it’s all that’s needed.


One criticism: if there is anything superfluous, it’s the sound effects. They’re not at all necessary and detract a little from the seriousness of the play.


Aside: On the way out of the theatre I heard a 65-ish year old woman with blue hair and a fur coat proclaim: ‘Well, I’ve seen a lot of drama in my time and that was, without doubt, the worst play I’ve ever seen.’


As for me, well I enjoyed the play and the superlative performances immensely. I had a wonderful evening. Waiting For Godot is funny, moving, tragic, serious, flippant and comic. The current production is worth going to see. Don’t miss the opportunity. The quality of the acting alone is worth the price of admission.


Here’s a clip from Waiting For Godot website:



If you get a chance to see it, do so – it’s absolutely superb.




Paris, Baudelaire, Beckett, Moonstone Silhouettes, the Seine and the Three Graces

January 11, 2009

Paris in December, 2008. Visiting Charles Baudelaire’s grave was paramount. I put my translation of Baudelaire’s poem Landscape on his grave. I covered it with a copy of the cover of my recently-published translation of Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil & Artificial Paradise.

The Flowers of Evil (Translated by R J Dent)

It was a very moving moment, made all the more poignant by the fact that a steady stream of people visited his grave. People came in ones and twos to pay their respects and/or leave offerings. I knew Baudelaire was considered an important literary figure in France, one who is still ignored and derided in England, but I had no idea that he was so revered by the French.

Charles Baudelaire

There are three names on the gravestone, there being just the one stone for the family plot. The name at the top is Jacques Aupick, Baudelaire’s stepfather, a man that Baudelaire hated. Next is Charles Baudelaire’s name. Beneath his name is Caroline Archenbaut Defayes, Baudelaire’s mother, a woman he loved dearly.

Baudelaire should really be in his own grave and have his own gravestone. Either that or a new stone should be cut that puts Charles Baudelaire’s name at the top – after all, he’s the reason that people go to that particular grave.

Charles Baudelaire's grave © 2009 R J Dent archive

In the same cemetery, I found Samuel Beckett’s grave.

Samuel Beckett's grave © 2009 R J Dent Archive

It was simple and unadorned. And no one visited it. It was all very Beckett-ian.

Samuel Beckett

Later that day I walked along the left bank of the Seine, then had coffee and croissants in a riverside café.

Seine (left bank) ©  2009 R J Dent archive

Continuing my theme of pretention, I spent a part of that day proof-reading and editing my latest poetry collection, Moonstone Silhouettes. The collection needed proofing and editing so I took it with me to France, simply so that I would always know that it had been edited in Paris. Now Moonstone Silhouettes will always be tinged with memories of Paris, December 2008.

moonstone silhouettes - r j dent

On another day I went into the Louvre and stood in front of the Three Graces. It’s my favourite sculpture. I found it by accident – having forgotten it was in the Louvre. I was wandering through the less-crowded rooms, trying to avoid the Mona Lisa/Venus de Milo/Da Vinci Code mob – and doing a very good job of it – when I went into a cool, spacious room and almost fell over the Three Graces. There they were – right in front of me – and all three looking quite lovely too. Obviously I wanted to touch them and I did reach out a hand – but at the last minute, sense, or lack of nerve, prevailed and I stood there simply staring in awe at those beautiful stone nymphs.

The Three Graces - Louvre

Obviously there’s a lot more, but that’s all I’m sharing at present. Paris was wonderful, a delightful experience, full of wonders, marvels and deep emotions. Every time I stepped outside in Paris, I could feel the air crackle with the electricity of life.

Paris at night ©  2009 R J Dent archive

Paris is a city for the eternally young. I will go back – and I’ll probably edit and proof-read another book of mine while I’m there. I might even touch the Three Graces. They won’t mind.

Au revoir.


© R J Dent (2009)

Charles Baudelaire’s The Flowers of Evil & Artificial Paradise translated by R J Dent is available from:


Moonstone Silhouettes by R J Dent is available from: