I am most grateful to the Leverhulme Trust for the award of a Leverhulme Research Fellowship 2002–4. This book would have been much the poorer and slighter without it. It allowed me to do in five years what took fifteen with my last major monograph.
Among Badiou commentators and scholars, my most important debt is to Peter Hallward, who shared his expertise with me repeatedly and selflessly and for whose patience, grace, and extraordinary clarity of mind I am very grateful. Judith Balso invited me to speak at the Collège Internationale de Philosophie, explained philosophical distinctions of which I was woefully ignorant, discussed her own work on Dante and Pessoa, and asked me to help with the ongoing labour of translating Stevens, illuminating some obscure points in Badiou’s thought about art in the process. I am also grateful to the following for their differing responses to one aspect or another of my work on Badiou: Jason Barker, Ray Brassier, Simon Critchley, Jean-Jacques Lecercle, Nina Power, and Alberto Toscano.
There are many Beckett scholars who have more or less directly contributed to this book over the years. Steve Connor has long been a very important source of support and encouragement. John Pilling has been generous and interested almost from the start of my Beckettian career. So has Katharine Worth, with whom I planned a Beckett seminar in which we argued about the relative merits of Beckett’s prose and drama as early as 1982. (It never came off.) James Hansford was an important influence on my early years as a Beckettian: like many of his friends, I remember his gentle gravity and sense of scruple with affection and respect. In the early stages of the book, I owed a great deal to the kindness, intellectual generosity, and ruthlessly interrogative spirit of Derval Tubridy, who never let me off lightly. Dan Katz invited me to speak at the École Normale Supérieure, Ronan McDonald at the Barbican, and Laura Salisbury at the London Beckett seminar at Birkbeck College. Yoshiki Tajiri invited me to Tokyo and gave me the chance to speak there. I have learnt from his modesty, fastidiousness, and scholarly obliquity. Some of these qualities he partly inherited from the late great Japanese scholar Yasunari Takahashi. When I used to meet up with Yasunari in the 1980s and