Fiery Joyce

Critics and reviewers, major and minor, drunk and sober, laughing and crying, in schools and singly, passed up and down

Reviews of Beckett Works
This page will collect links to reviews, including “classic” reviews of Beckett’s fiction and drama, reviews of the many books written about Beckett and his work, and reviews of important productions. It is heavily weighted in favor of The New York Times, which has an excellent Web site and online database. You may have to register to get in; it’s free, and only takes a minute, and it is very much worth it. As other newspapers and journals start placing their archives online, we will be sure to flesh out these sections. Apmonia would also like to thank the Samuel Beckett On-Line Resources and Links Page, which has archived some of these reviews on their site.
Do you know of a review we could add? Or would you like to submit one to us for inclusion? Please mail it to us!

Reviews of Beckett’s Work

Search for Peace in a World Lost – (Murphy) New York Times. Leslie Fielder takes a look back at Murphy, which “evokes a ferocity of terror and humor that shames most well-made novels of our time.”

Real Love Abides – (Malone Dies) New York Times, September 16, 1956. William Barret’s perceptive look at the middle work of the Trilogy.

Lifelong Suffocation – (The Unnamable) New York Times, October 12, 1958. Stephen Spender on Beckett’s “passionate pursuit.”

One Man’s Universe – (Watt) New York Times, January 21, 1959. Donald Barr decides that “the plain reader will simply complain of boredom.”

Where is the Where, Why is the Why – (How it Is) New York Times, March 22, 1964. Gene Baro praises Beckett’s unusual novel.

Watch Out, Buster – (Film) Life, August 14, 1964. A humorous account of Film.

While Waiting for Godot – (Mercier and Camier) New York Times, March 9, 1975. Dierdre Bair looks at Beckett’s early novel.

"Wipes Dream Away with Hand" – (The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett) New York Times, March 7, 1993. Mel Gussow looks at the Grove Press collection of Beckett’s notes.

Whispering the Turmoil Down – (The Complete Short Prose) Bookpress, May 1996. Novelist Paul West provides a perceprive review.

Beckett’s Brightness on Dark Days – (The Complete Short Prose) Boston Globe, June 30, 1996. Askold Melnyczuk reviews this impressive collection.

Game Without End I – (The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett) New York Review of Books, January 20, 2000. Fintan O’Toole discusses Schneider, Beckett, and Beckettian theatre.

Beckett Still Stirring – (Grove Centenary Edition) New York Review of Books, July 13, 2006. Tim Parks looks at Grove’s impressive collection as well as a few other books about Beckett.

Reviews of Books about or related to Beckett

Damned to Fame: A Life of Samuel Beckett (By James Knowlson, 1996.)

The Word Becomes Spirit Irish Times, October 7, 1996. Gerry Dukes looks at both the Knowlson and Cronin biographies, and recommends buying them both for the clearest picture of Beckett.

Savage LovingNew York Times, November 24, 1996. J.D. O’Hara finds that the biography “splendidly preserves the truths embodied in Beckett’s life.”

Shedding Light on a Dark and Droll Irish MasterBoston Globe, December 8, 1996. Mark Harman finds Knowlson’s work “a quietly authoritative, fluently written buography.”

Samuel Beckett: Beyond BiographySpike Magazine, December 1996.
Stephen Mitchelmore discusses the Knowlson and Cronin biographies, and the “enigma” that was Beckett’s life.

Cogito Ergo SamAmerican Theatre, February 1, 1997. Steven Drukman

Samuel Beckett: The Last Modernist (By Anthony Cronin 1996)

The Word Becomes Spirit Irish Times, October 7, 1996. Gerry Dukes looks at both the Knowlson and Cronin biographies, and recommends buying them both for the clearest picture of Beckett.

Samuel Beckett: Beyond BiographySpike Magazine, December 1996.
Stephen Mitchelmore discusses the Knowlson and Cronin biographies, and the “enigma” that was Beckett’s life.

An Outsider in His Own LifeNew York Times, August 3, 1997. Morris Dickstein favorably reviews this Beckett bio. Includes an excerpt from the first chapter.

No Author Better Served (By Beckett/Alan Schneider 1998)

I Can’t Go On, Alan. I’ll Go OnNew York Times, January 31, 1999. Robert Brustein looks at the collection of Beckett/Schneider correspondence.

Game Without End IINew York Review of Books, January 20, 2000. Fintan O’Toole discusses Schneider, Beckett, and Beckettian theatre.

Reviews of Notable Performances

Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot”New York Times, April 20, 1956. Brooks Atkinson looks at the NYC John Golden Theater Godot performance: “Perhaps that is why it is puzzling and convincing at the same time. Theatregoers can rail at it, but they cannot ignore it. For Mr. Beckett is a valid writer.”

Beckett’s “Endgame”New York Times, January 29, 1958. Brooks Atkinson again: “Thanks largely to the bitterness of the direction and the acting, Samuel Beckett’s second play turns out to be quite impressive. Impressive in the macabre intensity of the mood, that is.”

Beckett’s “Happy Days”New York Times, September 18, 1961. Howard Taubman claims that Beckett “has composed a song of rue that will haunt the inner ear long after you have heard it.”

Studio Theatre’s 1998 “Waiting for Godot”Theatre Journal, May 1999, Vol. 51, No. 2. Joanne Klein takes a look at Joy Zinoman’s controvesial, racially charged production of Godot.

Other Online Collections

The TLS Centenary Archive – A subscriber-only databse of the Times Literary Supplement.

The New York Review of Books – They are currently placing their archives online; but you may find more recent reviews here.


–A. Ruch
& Tim Conley
10 August 2006



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