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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Beckett Birthday Quiz!

Posted by on April 13 at 13:27 PM

That’s right! Samuel “kickin’-paparazzi-in-the-muthafuckin’-face” Beckett is 100 years old. Today. Happy birthday! How’s the afterlife? Does God care about theater?

In honor of the man who wrote a famous play in which “nothing happened… twice,” you should enjoy this cartoon (from this week’s New Yorker):


And then take this quiz! (Answers follow the jump.)

1. Beckett never granted a single interview. True or false?

2. Beckett was a party animal. True or false?

3. Beckett once wrote an entire play on a postcard. True or false?

4. John Lennon and Beckett wrote sketches for the same theatrical revue. True or false?

5. What famous writer did Beckett work for as a research assistant?

6. Beckett was stabbed in the chest by a Parisian pimp. True or false?

7. What major military honor did Beckett receive and why?

8. Beckett was a major sports fan. True or false?

And finally, I’ve always enjoyed this apocryphal anecdote:

Beckett was walking with a friend through a Parisian park on a lovely summer morning.
“Beautiful day, isn’t it?” the friend asked.
“Yes,” Beckett answered.
“Makes you feel glad to be alive, doesn’t it?”
“I wouldn’t go that far.”

1. False! He gave one, to his friend and official biographer, James Knowlson. Rumor has it he regretted doing it.

2. True! His friends report that despite that craggy, formidable, nihilisitic exterior, he loved nothing more than drinking, laughing, and humping. According to Knowlson, Beckett stopped counting after his 20th affair.

3. True! His 35-second Breath was part of Oh! Calcutta!, a theatrical review created by theater critic Kenneth Tynan in 1969.

4. True! Oh! Calcutta! also featured work by Lennon, Sam Shepard, and cartoonist Jules Feiffer.

5. James Joyce. Beckett did some legwork for the book that would eventually become Finnegans Wake.

6. True! The pimp's name was Prudent. When Beckett later asked why Prudent stabbed him, he replied: "I do not know, sir. I'm sorry."

7. The Croix de Guerre, for his work with the French Resistance against the Nazis.

8. True! He loved rugby and tennis and played high-level college cricket—he is the only Nobel laureate to earn an entry in Wisden Cricketers' Almanack, the bible of cricket.

CommentsRSS icon

The novels are better than the plays. Watt is one of the funniest books ever written, and Molloy, , and The Unnamable are progressively weirder and awesomer. Murphy is pretty great, too. Really funny stuff, a lot of it. "Nothing is funnier than unhappiness".

The fact that Beckett was a big sports fan makes me a little sad, because I'll no longer derive so much enjoyment from the story that he once attended a New York Mets double-header. I had always assumed that someone dragged him there and he was completely miserable for six hours.

Nevertheless, it'll be nice to share tales Beckett's sporty proclivities with some of my artsy-ass, sports-hating friends.

Oops, I just noticed that Malone Dies, the middle book between the two orphan commas, got swallowed up in bad html above.

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