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English Literature   >   Beckett: Waiting for Godot

Beckett’s Life to 1939

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Beckett: Waiting for Godot

In this course, Professor Andrew Gibson (Royal Holloway, London) explores Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. We begin by thinking about Beckett’s life, tracing his development as a man and a writer up to the outbreak of the Second World War in 1939. In the second module, we think about life in France during and after the Second World War, focusing in particular on the gap between the nationalist rhetoric of Philippe Pétain and Charles de Gaulle and the reality of a France that had been humiliated by an invasion and occupation by foreign powers. In the third module, we think about Beckett’s own experiences in the Second World War, before moving on in the fourth module to consider his presentation of human mediocrity and insignificance – what we might call ‘anti-humanism’. In the fifth module, we think about how Beckett finds great humour in his ‘anti-humanism’ (especially through the characters of Vladimir and Estragon) before turning in the sixth module to think about ‘waiting’ and ‘Godot’.

Beckett’s Life to 1939

In this module, we trace Beckett’s development as a man and writer up to 1939, focusing in particular on his early life and education, and his work in Ireland, France and England.

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Gibson, A. (2018, August 15). Beckett: Waiting for Godot - Beckett’s Life to 1939 [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Gibson, A. "Beckett: Waiting for Godot – Beckett’s Life to 1939." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 15 Aug 2018,


Prof. Andrew Gibson

Prof. Andrew Gibson

Royal Holloway, London