What’s That in the French?

I have been thinking about Godot (which you gotta believe is better than waiting for him; although, the idea of waiting under some tree, letting life come to you (as opposed to passing you by) has some appeal).  Years ago I saw a production of the Beckett play by an Irish company that pronounced Godot as GOD-o, as opposed to Go- Deau, making me wonder whether I (along with everyone else I had ever heard say the name of the play) had got it wrong.  After all, the players were Irish and so was Beckett, so perhaps they knew something that the rest of us did not.  And perhaps a reference to GOD was supposed to be so obvious or so ironic – take your pick.  But then again Beckett had originally written the play in French.  And the French would never pronounce Godot as GOD-o, and besides God in French is Dieu.  So the Irish must have had it wrong.  But then how can anything be wrong in an absurdist play like Waiting for Godot?  The fact that Beckett originally wrote the work in French (he translated it himself) is kind of astounding.  It puts me in mind of one my favourite lines – “We are all born mad.  Some remain so.”  I love the double-meaning of “mad”.  What did Beckett mean?  Or did he mean both senses?  I suppose the French would tell me since fou and furienx are really quite different … but I’d rather not know.

Leave a Reply