In Paris in 1953, one of the strangest and most popular plays of the 20th century premiered, Waiting for Godot, written by the Irish writer Samuel Beckett. Since the premier, people have been trying to figure out what this play means. It’s been interpreted in countless ways, with no definitive confirmation from Beckett one way or another. Waiting for Godot is famous as a play about nothing, but it has endured because it is in fact a play about life. For what is life but a sequential collection of waitings? Waiting for school to end. Waiting to find someone to love. Waiting to know what to do. Waiting to feel better. Waiting for money or recognition. And ultimately, the last waiting, waiting for death. And yet, between all these waitings, we find meaning to continue on.
Peter Connor is a professor of French and Comparative Literature at Barnard College. He is the author of Georges Bataille and the Mysticism of Sin (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins U.P., 2000).
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