Paris was where Samuel Beckett first found success in the theatre.
On the back of the publication of a new biography of Samuel Beckett by Deirdre Bair, 'Folio' visits the places that influenced his work and brought him success.
'Waiting for Godot', originally written in French, was first produced at the Théâtre de Babylone in Paris in 1953 and,
Placed Beckett firmly in the most distinguished ranks of the avant-garde.
One of the first to recognise Beckett's talent was the critic and literary editor Maurice Nadeau who provides a background to Beckett's work in the lead up to his breakthrough with 'Waiting for Godot' directed by Roger Blin. Nadeau recalls taking Henry Miller to a performance of the play in Paris describing his reaction as "interesting".
The reactions in the theatre were varied. Some people left before the end, some were bored, others laughed. Others asked what the meaning of it all was. But it had a great impact on the public all the same and it had a certain critical success. There were some who were violently against it but it was certainly at that time that Beckett made his first impact on the literary world and indeed afterwards it was for his plays rather than for his novels that he became known.
For novelist Alain Robbe-Grillet, Beckett was a "créateur de formes" who created exhilarating work. For Robbe-Grillet, the importance of Godot lies in the mode of expression describing Beckett as "a real artist".
This episode of 'Folio' was broadcast on 21 September 1978. The presenter is Patrick Gallagher.