Samuel Beckett

  1. Dublin university contains the cream of Ireland: Rich and thick.
  2. I can’t go on. I’ll go on.
  3. What do I know of man’s destiny? I could tell you more about radishes.
  4. All I know is what the words know, and dead things, and that makes a handsome little sum, with a beginning and a middle and an end, as in the well-built phrase and the long sonata of the dead.
  5. Birth was the death of him.
  6. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.
  7. Go on failing. Go on. Only next time, try to fail better.
  8. Let me go to hell, that’s all I ask, and go on cursing them there, and them look down and hear me, that might take some of the shine off their bliss.
  9. James Joyce was a synthesizer, trying to bring in as much as he could. I am an analyzer, trying to leave out as much as I can.
  10. I write about myself with the same pencil and in the same exercise book as about him. It is no longer I, but another whose life is just beginning.
  11. It is right that he too should have his little chronicle, his memories, his reason, and be able to recognize the good in the bad, the bad in the worst, and so grow gently old down all the unchanging days, and die one day like any other day, only shorter.
  12. Just under the surface I shall be, all together at first, then separate and drift, through all the earth and perhaps in the end through a cliff into the sea, something of me. A ton of worms in an acre, that is a wonderful thought, a ton of worms, I believe it.
  13. I shall state silences more competently than ever a better man spangled the butterflies of vertigo.
  14. Habit is a great deadener.
  15. The bastard! He doesn’t exist!
  16. Nothing matters but the writing. There has been nothing else worthwhile…a stain upon the silence.
  17. Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it’s awful!
  18. Make sense who may. I switch off.
  19. Personally I have no bone to pick with graveyards, I take the air there willingly, perhaps more willingly than elsewhere, when take the air I must.
  20. Nothing is funnier than unhappiness, I grant you that. Yes, yes, it’s the most comical thing in the world.
  21. My characters have nothing. I’m working with impotence, ignorance… that whole zone of being that has always been set aside by artists as something unusable – something by definition incompatible with art.
  22. The tears of the world are a constant quality. For each one who begins to weep, somewhere else another stops. The same is true of the laugh.
  23. To find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now.
  24. We are all born mad. Some remain so.
  25. There’s man all over for you, blaming on his boots the fault of his feet.
  26. We are not saints, but we have kept our appointment. How many people can boast as much?
  27. Words are all we have.
  28. We lose our hair, our teeth! Our bloom, our ideals.

Samuel Beckett is one of Ireland’s Nobel Prizewinners.

Samuel Beckett: Watt