Waiting for Godot
by Samuel Beckett
Brain Snacks: Tasty Tidbits of Knowledge
Depending on the production and country, some actors pronounce "Godot" like "God-oh" instead of "Guh-doh," thus emphasizing the allusion to God. Beckett said the emphasis should be on the first syllable.
Beckett was elected Saoi of Aosdána in 1984. Aosdána, Irish for "people of the arts," is an association for distinguished Irish artists. The title of Saoi is the highest honor that the group awards its members, and only five living people can be Saoi at one time.
Beckett became good friends with fellow Irish writer James Joyce, and contributed ideas to Joyce’s groundbreaking novel, Finnegan’s Wake. In fact, many of Beckett’s first published works were essays on Joyce’s writing. Some say Beckett was afraid of being in Joyce’s shadow. Whereas Joyce wrote with a style of having "more", Beckett decided he was going to emphasize less: stark, minimalist dialogue.
Beckett worked as a courier for the French Resistance for two years during WWII while Germany occupied France.
In the introduction to an abridged radio reading of the play, Beckett sent a note that included the following: "I don’t know who Godot is. I don’t even know (above all don’t know) if he exists. And I don’t know if they believe in him or not – those two who are waiting for him. The other two who pass by towards the end of each of the two acts, that must be to break up the monotony. All I knew I showed. It’s not much, but it’s enough for me, by a wide margin. I’ll even say that I would have been satisfied with less. As for wanting to find in all that a broader, loftier meaning to carry away from the performance, along with the program and the Eskimo pie, I cannot see the point of it. But it must be possible … Estragon, Vladimir, Pozzo, Lucky, their time and their space, I was able to know them a little, but far from the need to understand. Maybe they owe you explanations. Let them supply it. Without me. They and I are through with each other."
Beckett said his inspiration for Waiting for Godot was a painting by Caspar David Friedrich, and we know that the painting is either "Man and Woman Contemplating the Moon" (from 1824) or "Two Men Contemplating the Moon" (from 1819).