Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Happy Days

Manuscripts | Publications | Productions | Reviews


Robert Brustein, in the New Republic (2 October 1961), found Beckett’s Happy Days to be “the least of his dramatic efforts” to date, finding the language “flat and prosaic,” the symbols too obvious, and Beckett’s characteristic repetitions, finally, “boring.” Acknowledging Beckett’s “superior power, beauty, and intelligence” but fearing that Beckett is just coasting along, he speculates whether Beckett will “remain in the ditch or will develop in an entirely new direction.”

Nigel Dennis, in Encounter (January 1963), applauds Beckett for at last allowing “woman her fair share of futility” but ultimately decries the dryness of the dramatic production against the great humor of the read text and feels that Beckett is wasting his “particular kind of power”—“is there any other dramatist who could present the ludicrous so frankly and get back such a heart-rending groan?” Dennis concludes that

it is the humorist who suffers most at Mr. Beckett’s hands, because the humorist is always seeing in a Beckett play whole jokes that are only really half-jokes, and funny situations that may have been intended otherwise. The humorist, indeed, tries to strike a bargain with Mr. Beckett, saying: ‘Sad underneath, by all means. But funny in expression, no?’ But the bargain is refused. Mr. Beckett denies the working agreement that [Anton] Chekhov accepted. Laughter, he seems to say, is the most obvious sort of misery.