Under a rare cloudless blue sky, the exquisite lines of the Samuel Beckett Bridge over the River Liffey in Dublin. Designed by the architect Santiago Calatrava, it’s his second bridge over the Liffey, the first being the James Joyce Bridge that shares a literary connection in more ways than one…
In 1945, on a return visit to Dublin, Beckett had a revelation in his mother’s room in which his entire future direction in literature appeared to him. He had felt the would remain forever in the shadow of Joyce, certain to never beat him at his own game. His revelation prompted him to change direction and to acknowledge both his own stupidity and his interest in ignorance and impotence:
“I realised that Joyce had gone as far as one could in the direction of knowing more, [being] in control of one’s material. He was always adding to it; you only have to look at his proofs to see that. I realised that my own way was in impoverishment, in lack of knowledge and in taking away, in subtracting rather than in adding.”
Samuel Beckett (1906-1989) was an Irish novelist, playwright, short story writer, theatre director, poet, and literary translator, who resided in Paris for most of his adult life, writing in both French and English. Considered one of the last modernist writers, his work, is often bleak and impersonal, tragicomic experiences of life, coupled with black comedy and nonsense; he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969.
His quote, “to find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now,” sums up the bridge and its architect!