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Samuel Beckett – All That Fall

Title: All That Fall
Author: Samuel Beckett
Year: 1956

I seldom come across books I find extremely hard to review, but after reading Samuel Beckett’s play All That Fall, I have simply no idea what to write. I don’t think it’s because of the format, because, after all, I have read some plays before and have been able to appreciate them (very much so, at least in one case). On the surface, this play is about an old and fat Irish woman who laboriously makes her way to the train station to pick up her husband, who is blind. A lot of things happen along the away and back, but since the play merely spans 45 pages or so, and the story is hard to summarise without giving it away, I’ll leave it at that.

When a Nobel Prize laureate writes (Beckett was awarded the prize in 1969), there is usually something more than story going on and this is certainly the case here, but unfortunately, I feel that most of it is beyond me (in other words, I don’t understand what’s supposed to be great). To me, All That Fall is a story with nicely written dialogue, realistic but a bit grotesque characters and focusing on death in various ways. I fail to see the brilliance here and don’t feel motivated to re-read the play and give it a more fair assessment. I don’t know if his other plays are this inaccesible or if it’s simply my being obtuse. Two and a half snails isn’t more than slightly better than mediocre, but that’ll have to do this time.

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  1. greg scott’s avatar

    You are far from obtuse. I have not read the play, but I very much liked your review. You chose to remain undecided, and avoided working vague dissatisfaction into more well-defined opinions. This is an honest response. There is something phony about the way many critics struggle to produce distinctive conclusions on everything.

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