examine in detail and as a whole Beckett's drama and prose writing since
`Endgame' and `The Unnamable'. The authors' point of departure is a
consideration of two as yet unpublished works: Beckett's first novel,
`Dream of Fair to Middling Women', and his first play, `Eleuthéria'. In the
light of some of the themes and issues raised by these early works, the
authors go on to elucidate the later writing which audiences and readers
have found deeply problematic.
James Knowlson has written the chapters on drama, which include extensive
discussions of `Krapp's Last Tape', `Happy Days', `Play', `Come and Go' and
`Breath' and John Pilling has written those on the prose, including `Texts
for Nothing' and the novel, `How it is'. Each of the authors devotes a long
section to Beckett's `Ends and Odds' which in drama include `Not I', `That
Time', `Footfalls' and `Theatre' I and II, highly concentrated and allusive
pieces that have kept Beckett in the forefront of experimental work since
he made his reputation with `Waiting for Godot'. John Pilling writes on the
`Ends and Odds' in prose, which include `All strange away', `Imagination
Dead Imagine', `The Lost Ones', `Ping', `Enough', `Lessness', the `Fizzles'
and other texts, both published and unpublished, that have been regarded
until now as scraps and `residua' and abandoned works, and shows them to be
highly wrought, complex and satisfying works, which display a coherent and
continuing development in a twentieth century master's career.
In the last three chapters the authors discuss in detail important
influences on Beckett`s drama (Synge and Kleist) and in looking at
Beckett's own critical writing (his essays on `Finnegans Wake' and
contemporary artists and the short book on Proust for example) trace the
development of his literary poetic.