Samuel Beckett, a Critical Study

Samuel Beckett, a Critical Study

Samuel Beckett, a Critical Study

Samuel Beckett, a Critical Study

Excerpt

But you must know something, said Mr. Hackett. One does not part with five shillings to a shadow. Nationality, family, birthplace, confession, occupation, means of existence, distinctive signs, you cannot be in ignorance of all this.

Utter ignorance, said Mr. Nixon.

-- Watt

This book, meant not to explain Samuel Beckett's work but to help the reader think about it, bears such evidence of Mr. Beckett's courtesy that I must caution the reader against mistaking it for an authorized exposition. That sort of misunderstanding will proliferate for decades, as anyone knows who has traced the course of the Joyce legend. Let me therefore, though the book could not have been written without its subject's assistance, put on record the exact extent of his contribution to it. He placed at my disposal three jettisoned typescripts: Mercier et Camier, Eleutheria, and "Premier Amour"; he answered such questions of fact and date as I thought it worth while to trouble him with; and during a conversation in the spring of 1958 he made various remarks which sometimes confirmed my hunches, sometimes corrected them, and sometimes suggested lines of thought on which I should not otherwise have stumbled.

He denied, for instance, the presence in his work of some hidden plan or key like the parallels in Ulysses. Joyce, he recalled, used to claim that every syllable in the Joycean canon could be justified, but while that was . . .

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