Eleuthéria: A Play in Three Acts

Front Cover
Just before he wrote the classic Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett wrote another play, entitled Eleutheria. The legend runs that Suzanne Descheveaux-Dumesnil, Beckett's wife, presented the great French director Roger Blin with his choice of two plays: one, Waiting for Godot and the other - Eleutheria. The play with five actors and two acts won out over the one with seventeen characters and elaborate, and numerous, scene changes. Eleutheria then disappeared for some forty years, until the day Samuel Beckett placed a manuscript into the hands of his old friend and original American publisher, Barney Rosset, and told him it was his. As Beckett scholars, among them James Knowlson and John Spurling, have noted, elements in Eleutheria prefigure many of the themes and characters of Beckett's most important works. Beyond the historical interest of this "lost" work by one of the century's great writers, there is the mesmerizing quality of the master playwright's language. His unmatched Gaelic wit and grace is evident even in this, perhaps the least-known of his completed works.

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About the author (1995)

Nobel Prize winner (1969) Samuel Beckett was born on April 13, 1906 near Dublin, Ireland into a middle-class Protestant family. As a boy, he studied French and enjoyed cricket, tennis, and boxing. At Trinity College he continued his studies in French and Italian and became interested in theater and film, including American film. After graduation, Beckett taught English in Paris and traveled through France and Germany. While in Paris Beckett met Suzanne Deschevaus-Dusmesnil. During World War II when Paris was invaded, they joined the Resistance. They were later forced to flee Paris after being betrayed to the Gestapo, but returned in 1945. Beckett and Deschevaus-Dusmesnil married in 1961. Samuel Beckett's first novel was Dream of Fair to Middling Women. Among his many works are Murphy; Malone Dies; and The Unnameable. His plays include Endgame, Happy Days, Not I, That Time, and Krapp's Last Tape. In 1953, the production of Waiting For Godot in Paris by director and actor Roger Blin earned Beckett international fame. Beckett was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1969. His style was postmodern minimalist and some of his major themes were imprisonment in one's self, the failure of language, and moral conduct in a godless world. Despite his fame, Samuel Beckett led a secluded life. In his later years he suffered from cataracts and emphysema. His wife Suzanne died on July 17, 1989 and Beckett died on December 22nd of the same year.

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