Samuel Beckett, Sans [Lessness]

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Written at the end of the 1960s, this short text is one of the most experimental of Samuel Beckett’s pieces of fiction. It was originally written in French, entitled


(“without”), and translated by Beckett himself as



New Statesman

, 1 May 1970). Partly inspired by experimental music by John Cage and other 1960s compositions, Beckett created a rigid framework within which he allows chance to be the main structuring principle of his text.

The ingredients are two times sixty sentences, one character, grey light, and a setting of ruins, which are referred to as “true refuge”. Beckett’s structuring tools are the main numbers of man’s conventions to systematise time. The Library of Yale University holds a document in which Samuel Beckett offers a “key” to decipher

851 words

Citation: Van Hulle, Dirk. "Sans". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 01 March 2004 [, accessed 21 June 2024.]

2307 Sans 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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