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Theatre and Evolution from Ibsen to Beckett$
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Kirsten Shepherd-Barr

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231164702

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231164702.001.0001

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Beckett’s “Old Muckball”

Beckett’s “Old Muckball”

(p.237) 8 Beckett’s “Old Muckball”
Theatre and Evolution from Ibsen to Beckett

Kirsten Shepherd-Barr

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines the relevance of evolution to Samuel Beckett's drama and tackles questions such as: How do the common critical descriptors of Beckett's works as about death, endlessness, and meaninglessness relate to characterizations of his vision as “unsentimental” and “harsh,” terms often used to describe the nature of Darwinian evolution by natural selection? What is Beckett's theater saying about the interplay between the organism and its environment? Focusing on Beckett's works such as Waiting for Godot and Happy Days, this chapter considers his depiction of the natural world, including climate and weather, his allusions to Charles Darwin, and how he addresses themes such as entropy and adaptation, symbiosis and antagonism, extinction, and change.

Keywords:   evolution, Samuel Beckett, drama, Waiting for Godot, Happy Days, natural world, Charles Darwin, entropy, extinction, adaptation

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