A letter from Samuel Beckett to Michel Polac, 1952
You ask for my notions about En attendant Godot, extracts from which you are doing me the honor of broadcasting at the Club d’Essai, and at the same time for my notions about dramatic art.
I have no notions about dramatic art. I am not versed in it. I am not a theatergoer. This is admissible. What is probably less so, under these conditions, is first of all to write a play, and then, having done so, not to have the ghost of a notion about it either. Such is unfortunately the case.
I know no more about this play than anyone who manages to read it attentively. I do not know in what spirit I wrote it. I know no more about the characters than what they say, what they do and what happens to them. About their looks, I must have indicated the little I have been able to catch a glimpse of. The bowler hats for instance. I do not know who Godot is. I do not even know if he exists. And I do not know if they believe he does or doesn’t, those two who are waiting for him. The two others who drop in toward the end of each of the two acts, that must be in order to break the monotony.
All that I have managed to be aware of I have shown. It is not much. But it is enough for me, quite enough. I can even say that I would have fared better with less. As for wanting to find in all this a broader and loftier meaning to take home after the performance, together with the program and the ice-cream stick, I cannot see the point in doing so. Yet it might be achieved.
I am no longer involved and will never be again. Estragon, Vladimir, Pozzo and Lucky, their time and their space: if I did manage to get slightly acquainted with them it was only by keeping very far away from the need to understand. They may be answerable to you. Let them shift for themselves. Without me. They and I are quits.
Translated from French by Edith Fournier. Excerpted from The New Yorker, June 24, 1996.