Here at the Samuel Beckett Society, we’re not sure what to make of Robert Armstrong’s recent piece in the Financial Times about the end of the male style icon. Armstrong is wistful for a simpler time, when male celebrity figures were supposedly emulated and celebrated for their sartorial choices. He has this to say about Samuel Beckett:

The artists, from Miles Davis to Samuel Beckett […] were all creators in the 20th-century mode. They were defined in large part by the rejection of classical or bourgeois conceptions of aesthetic or intellectual achievement in favour of greater spontaneity and authenticity. They were iconoclasts before they were icons. Their clothes are in one sense irrelevant, because it is the work that matters. But they were also absolutely relevant, because the work was not just changing music or literature but the whole way we approach life, right down to what we wear.

The Financial Times

What do you think? Does Beckett’s dress code influence the way we think about him as a writer and public figure? Or are these things irrelevant to the books and plays that we love?

Posted by:Rhys Tranter

Rhys Tranter is a writer based in Cardiff, Wales, UK. He is the author of Beckett's Late Stage (2018), and his work has appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, The Spectator, and a number of books and periodicals. He holds a BA, MA, and a PhD in English Literature. His website is a personal journal offering commentary and analysis across literature, film, music, and the arts.

One thought on “Samuel Beckett: Style Icon?

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