Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape

The Theatre of the Absurd

What is the theatre of the absurd? .

the trauma of living from 1945 under threat of nuclear annihilation • The historical context made man aware of the impermanence of values. the invalidity of conventions. the precarious state of life .• Albert Camus in The Myth of Sisyphus (1942) first defined the human situation as basically meaningless and absurd • Genre influences: the traumatic experience of the horrors of the Second World War.

complacent • startle the viewer with its unusual. innovative form • rebel against conventional theatre • centre upon and fight against the conventionalization of language .The new genre was meant to: • shock man out of an existence that has become trite. mechanical.

Krapp’s Last Tape (1958) .

• Krapp’s habit of reviewing the past year and recording the memorable events: “separating the grain from the husks” • Recording himself year by year leads to a split in Krapp’s identity .

(…) and intellectually I have now every reason to suspect at the… [hesitates] …crest of the wave – or thereabouts” 69-year-old Krapp • cracked voice • “very near-sighted”.39-year-old Krapp • “strong voice. rather pompous” • proclaims himself “sound as a bell. “hard of hearing” old man .

• Krapp’s identity is split because he does not recall his past life. he does not remember it the way it has been. but imagines it: “I close my eyes and try and imagine them” [the things worth having in life] .

. and before recording a new tape he listens to previous imaginings in order to be able to imagine his present. then what he is actually doing is continually alienating himself from his own self and from reality.So. if he records his past life as he imagines it to have been.

g. to drink etc. so is the text itself • Krapp has “a rage for separation” (Paul Lawley) • “His whole life has been interruption”(Beckett) • He continually interrupts both his life (e. all of Krapp’s acts are split and. what he shall do next and what he shall not) and his recorded voice (in order to look up a word. he gives up love in order to follow up “the fire in me”.• Along with his identity. every year he stops in order to take into consideration what he has done up till then. the literary impulse.) . as a consequence.

by continually (re)imagining it while recording it or playing a record .• Krapp edits his own life through the continuous interruptions • He is an author: both of his “opus magnum” and of his life.

“The Beckett books and plays are repeatedly public confessions by men who have cut themselves off and have nothing left but the language to fondle. old language.” (Hugh Kenner) . new language. that’s their job now. Keeping going.