Beckett Reads Job

Samuel Beckett writes of humanity in his Waiting for Godot, “They give birth astride of a grave, the light gleams an instant, then it’s night once more.” Biblical illiterate that I am, I hadn’t realized until this morning that Beckett’s source for this image is Job: “I should have been as though I had not been; I should have been carried from the womb to the grave” (10:19). Waiting for Godot is in some ways a parody of the Book of Job: Vladimir and Estragon, like Job (cf. 10:2, and passim), spend their time on stage in agonized waiting for the arrival of God (“Godot”), though of course there’s no hope of a theophany in Beckett’s absurdist universe.

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