“Fail Better” — Samuel Beckett


“All of old. Nothing else ever. Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Samuel Beckett (1906-1989), Worstward Ho

As you might imagine, Worstward Ho, Beckett’s last but one novella and published in 1983, was a parody of Charles Kingsley’s Westward Ho!  I find the words quoted above to be an excellent piece of advice lest we hold ourselves back by not being perfect.  Striving for perfection is good; beating ourselves about the head for not achieving such simply brings us low, unable to do anything.  Perfection is unattainable.

Samuel Beckett Caricature by Edmund S Valtman
Samuel Beckett Caricature by Edmund S Valtmanbeckett by FirstNightVintage

Caricature by Edmund S. Valtman from 1969 of Samuel Beckett, courtesy of Wikimedia.

Playwright Samuel Beckett is not to everyone’s taste.  Indeed, when I was at drama school in the mid-70s, you were considered persona non grata if you expressed a distaste for either Beckett or Harold Pinter.  That’s a slight exaggeration but I did find that others were aghast that I liked neither Beckett nor Pinter.  It was not until I saw a production of  Happy Days that I began to see what all the fuss was about.  I continue to resist the work of Pinter!

Take care and keep laughing!

Sarah

8 thoughts on ““Fail Better” — Samuel Beckett

  1. What a brilliant quote, I love it.

    As an English Lit student in the ’90s, you were still considered slightly odd if you didn’t love Beckett and Pinter. It was fine to say Shakespeare bored you, on the other hand…

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    1. Interesting. Plus ca change, then. If someone said they were bored by Shakespeare, I’d understand but I would urge them to see a good production and see how his words come alive in the mouths of excellent actors. I was similarly bored at school until my parents took me to see Judi Dench, Richard Pasco and Elizabeth Spriggs in Twelfth Night at the Aldwych. I was transfixed because I understood exactly what the characters were thinking and feeling. I didn’t get the best of grades for O-level Eng.Lit but at least I started enjoying the classes. Thanks for dropping by.

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  2. It was almost de rigeur, actually, to say how you hadn’t bothered to read whatever the Shakespeare play was, but to have watched a TV adaptation instead! How stupid we all were at the age of 20, not to realise that a week in which your main task was to read a play couldn’t really be improved on once you hit the working world…

    I often have your experience, still, I have to say, when I watch Shakespeare at the theatre. The first few minutes you feel like you’re listening to an “old” language, and then before you know it you’re completely immersed and feel as if you’re watching something that was written the week before.

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