Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days
Time: 3:00-5:00 pm, May 3rd, 2017
Venue: Room 115, SEIS Building
The visual imagery of Samuel Beckett’s Happy Days suggests, at least at first, direct links between Beckett and the Surrealists.? The closing image of Surrealism’s most famous film, the Bu?uel/Dali collaboration called “Un chien Andalu,” for instance, ends with a woman buried up to her waste in a scorching desert.? But Happy Days is less a celebration of Surrealist irrationality than a critique of western humanist civilisation and its consolations.? In Happy Days causality is indeed disrupted in the Surrealist manner as the reasons for Winnie’s inexplicable burial are never explained.? The play begins only after her acclimatisation, after she has settled in, that is, after her environment and predicament have become familiar: “That is what I find so wonderful . . . . The way man adapts himself . . . . To changing conditions” (35).? The play’s focus is on the protagonist’s acceptance of an apparently irrational world. Winnie adapts with the help of three habits: ritual, language, and hope.? All three protect her from self-realization and selfawareness. This talk examines the irrationality of Winnie’s condition in terms of the impact, the affect of images and through various visual presentations.
S. E. Gontarski is Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor of English at Florida State University, where he edited the Journal of Beckett Studies from1989-2008. His recent books are: (with C. J. Ackerley)The Faber Companion to Samuel Beckett: A Reader’s Guide to His Works, Life, and Thought(2006) and (ed. with Anthony Uhlmann)Beckett after Beckett(2006).?? He has also editedThe Beckett Critical Reader: Archives, Theories, and Translations(2012) andThe Edinburgh Companion to Samuel Beckett and the Arts(2014), both from Edinburgh University Press; his monograph,Creative Involution:? Bergson Beckett, Deleuzehasappeared in 2015 to launch his book series “Other Becketts” with Edinburgh University Press, from which hisBeckett Matters:? Essays on Beckett’s Late Modernismappeared in 2017.