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Krapp's Last Tape

lay evidently wouldn moved

a play by Samuel Beckett, written in 1957 for the actor Patrick Magee. It shows a 69-year-old man listening to a tape-recording he made thirty years before. In this, he is variously heard talking of his beliefs and spiritual health, complaining of his evidently chronic constipation, remembering a vaguely sexual encounter while his mother lay dying, and mocking the worthy ‘aspirations’ and ‘resolutions’ that he has found recorded on a still earlier tape, one he made when he was a ‘young whelp’ in his twenties. Cynicism had evidently begun to set in then, and is infinitely more marked now. The reaction of the aged Krapp, who shuffles about eating bananas and drinking wine, is mostly one of impatience and boredom with what, in the new tape he begins to record, he dismisses as the pointless ramblings of a ‘stupid bastard’—‘hard to believe I was ever as bad as that’. But one part of the old tape fascinates him, and he replays it obsessively. It describes being in a boat on a lake with a woman: ‘We lay there without moving. But under us all moved, and moved us, gently, up and down, and from side to side.’ Eventually he throws away his new tape, listens again to his memory of the incident, and then to his 39-year-old self's closing words: ‘Perhaps my best years are gone. When there was a chance of happiness. But I wouldn't want them back. Not with the fire in me now. No, I wouldn't want them back.’ The 69-year-old Krapp is left ‘motionless staring before him’, a visible example of the vanity of human wishes.

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