Waiting for Godot – Samuel Beckett

“What happened?”
“Nothing happened.”
“Why did nothing happen?
“How would I know?”
“You would know.”
“I would?”
“Yes.”
“How I would know?”
“Because you read it.”
“Did I?”
“Yes.“
“How do you know?”
“It is on your shelf.”
“What does it mean?”
“It means you have read it.”
“Oh I have.”
“So what happened?”
“Nothing happened.”
“Why did nothing happen?”
“Because they were waiting for Godot.”

Waiting and nothing – I could take these two words and use them in as many combinations as the rules of probability allow to create a ‘review’ that is as much meaningful as it would be meaningless. I could draw upon the elusive symbolism of the text in the manner of a perspicacious hermeneut whose convoluted exegesis would only serve to frustrate him even more. Or like a blurb-writer I could summarise the four-and-a-half characters, the austere landscape, the leafless tree, the role of the taut rope and jangling bucket, and the heap of nonsense, but what would that achieve?

Suffice it to say that the sheer speed of bare dialogue makes you want to slow down and look for something queer happening between the lines, but nothing happens. Yet something very important happens: everything happens. Aye. Beckett in his frugal minimalist brilliance has created in every reader’s mind a throbbing sense of meaningless wait. The act of wait which is an act of life, since every moment of human life is spent at the same time in a concurrent act of waiting – whether it is waiting in the womb of your mother for nine months or waiting for nine hours for your lover to turn up. Or just waiting at the bus stop for a vehicle that never arrives. You wait for things to happen; but nothing happens; yet life happens.

The best review I have read said, “This is a very interesting play.” Which is to say that the best review of Waiting for Godot is precisely the one that is not written down.

(First published 1953)

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