SHOW NOT TELL: The “Absurdist” Theatre of Samuel Beckett

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In his 1961 book The Theatre of the Absurd, Martin Esslin focuses on the plays of Samuel Beckett, in a section entitled “The Search for the Self.” In this chapter, I make a case that Beckett’s early plays Waiting for Godot, Endgame, and Krapp’s Last Tape are influenced, not only by philosophy, psychology, and existentialism, but also the comedy, clown performances and silent films he saw in his youth, forms that grew from the sixteenth-century Commedia dell’ Arte which Esslin mentions but does not expand.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Routledge Companion to Absurdist Literature
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9781040001561
ISBN (Print)9781032188126
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2024


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