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Krapp's Last Tape


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A: Samuel Beckett Pf: 1958, London Pb: 1958 G: Monodrama in 1 act S: Krapp's study, c.1990 C: 1 mKrapp, a ‘wearyish old man’ of 69 in shabby clothes, eats a banana, slips on the discarded skin, eats another, then shuffles off into the darkness, where he is heard having a drink. He returns with a ledger which lists events in his past life. Selecting the tape made on his 39th birthday, he places it on his recorder and begins to listen. The first mention of a former girlfriend causes him to switch off the machine and have another drink. He listens to the description of his mother's death, but when he gets to the section where he has seen ‘the light at last’, he grows impatient and fast-forwards until he reaches the part where he is lying with a girl in a punt, telling her that they must end their relationship. Krapp broods, goes for another drink, then records his ‘last tape’. He sneers at the young man who threw away his ‘chance of happiness’ for the sake of his ‘homework’, only 17 copies of which have been sold in the last year. Finding ‘nothing to say, not a squeak’, Krapp wrenches the tape from the machine, and as he listens again to the scene on the lake, he stares vacantly out into the darkness.

A: Samuel Beckett Pf: 1958, London Pb: 1958 G: Monodrama in 1 act S: Krapp's study, c.1990 C: 1 m

This was the first published play of Beckett's to be written in English and is his most accessible. Uncharacteristically, it suggests that Krapp might have found happiness if he had valued the love of a woman higher than his determination to be a writer. For Beckett, this is an almost sentimental implication and a rueful comment on his own troubled relationships with women. Beckett brilliantly uses a tape recorder (still a novelty in the 1950s) to allow a character to confront his former self.

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards) — Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Authors

Samuel Beckett (1906—1989) author


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