From our present perch a survey of the past might lead us to conclude that life has never been more absurd than it is today. Still, if we muster some discipline, we should admit that more likely than not the human condition remains the same. So, as 60+ years ago, we still prize the Samuel Becket play Waiting for Godot as a mirror, a journal, a journey into our state and fate.
Writing in LitHub, Shannon Reed explains just how unusual it is for any play to be so pervasive, so enduring. And she offers her take on why this bleak play in particular has lasted so long. It speaks directly to the irony of our humanity, and displays for all to see our lunk-headed yet admirable demand for meaning in the face of absurdity.
For all its beauty and laughs, Godot can be a slog for actors and audiences. And Reed concludes with her theory of why both continue to ask for more, year after year. “We return to Godot,” she says, “at least partly to be able to walk out of Godot.”
Surely that’s part of it.
But more likely we keep turning back to Godot because we hope (ridiculously and yet without fail) that one of these times… Godot will show, that we’ll finally get the answer — the meaning — we’re after.
Reminding us of the beauty and brilliance of Godot will of course advance the species.