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Proust: And Three Dialogues with Georges Duthuit (Calderbooks) [Paperback]

Samuel Beckett
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

July 1969 Calderbooks
Samuel Beckett's celebrated early study of Marcel proust, whose theories of time were to play a large part in his own work, was written in 1931. It is a brilliant work of critical insight that also tells us much about its author's own thinking and preoccupations. In its own right it is a masterpiece of literary and philosophical creative writing. This edition was published in 1999 - ten years after the writer's death. The volume also contains the equally celebrated dialogues with the art critic Georges Duthuit - written to record their different points of view after the discussions took place. Beckett always let Duthuit win, but his very unusual and often opposite point of view on the nature and purpose of art is all the more forceful and memorable on that account.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 126 pages
  • Publisher: Calder Publications Ltd; 3rd Revised edition edition (July 1969)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0714500348
  • ISBN-13: 978-0714500348
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.8 x 0.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 691,126 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"This small book must contain some of the most brilliant and far-reaching criticism written this century...it is also very funny." - The Scotsman "A brilliant and at times moving account of the impact of a philosophical novelist on a philosophical poet." - The Sunday Times

From the Back Cover

Samuel Beckett's celebrated study of Marcel Proust, whose theories of time were to play a large part in his own work, was written in 1931, a brilliant work of critical insight that also tells us much about its author's own thinking and preoccupations. In its own right it is a masterpiece of literary and philosophical creative writing. This new edition is published ten years after the writer's death.

The Volume also contains the equally celebrated dialogues with the art critic Georges Duthuit, written to record their different points of view after the discussions took place. Beckett always lets Duthuit win, but his very unusual and often opposite point of view on the nature and purpose of art is all the more forceful and memorable on that account.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Beckett prefigured by Proust 18 May 2000
By K. Clay
'Proust is long' wrote Anatole France 'and life is short'. How many have felt the same way when faced with the 12 volumed one million word novel Remembrance of Things Past? Those involved, convoluted sentences, sometimes a paragraph, sometimes a page long; the steady piling up of metaphore on metaphore; the deep analytical dives into the subconscious, soon exasperate the average reader expecting a Forsyte Saga of French high society.
Yet the aspects of the novel which initially repel are seen later to constitute an integral part of its great originality and power. We have to slow down to Proust's pace and learn to follow his tortuous excursions into the undergrowth of psychology on what is still literature's most mind-altering journey.
Beckett's criticism, Proust first appeared in 1931 when he was 25. It isn't a balanced introduction like Edmund Wilson's in Axel's Castle or the essay by Martin Turnell in The Novel in France, but a concentrated inspection of the philosophical ideas which support Proust's massive structure: the deformation of personality by time, the smothering yet protective nature of habit, and the distortion of the past by our conscious attempts at remembrance.
Proust's dark landscape is lit only by flashes of involuntary memory, 'accidental and fugitive salvations in the midst of life'. These vivid recollections cannot be summoned, they are spontaneous evocations triggered by a simple event which has a correspondence in our past.
Jealousy, love and the impossibility of ever possessing, or even communicating with another are also important motifs in Proust's work.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Samuel Beckett's text on Marcel Proust's work was published in 1931, when Beckett was 25 years old. Even though it was written before Beckett had reached his "mature" phase, this is a brilliant piece of criticism. Beckett's close reading (see, for example, his detailed list of the eleven points of departure for Proust's involuntary memory) is supplemented by deep analysis - not "cheap flashy philosophical jargon". Though focused on his discussion of Proust, Beckett also shares with us numerous aphorisms of wider import (e.g. "Habit is the ballast that chains the dog to his vomit.").

Also included in this volume are the famous three dialogues between Beckett and Georges Duthuit (1949). In them, Beckett states his opinion on artistic creation: "The expression that there is nothing to express, nothing with which to express, nothing from which to express, no power to express, no desire to express, together with the obligation to express". Duthuit's conception of art seems to be much more traditional, and the dialogues sometimes (supposedly) become heated.

A word of advice: it makes much more sense instead of buying this edition to buy Volume IV (Poems, Short Fiction, Criticism) of the Grove Centenary Edition of Samuel Beckett's works, since both texts ("Marcel Proust" & "Three Dialogues") are contained therein.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars missing content in this edition 8 Jan 2011
By Janet
Careful with this edition by John Calder. Despite the book's being so short, there are some key paragraphs missing that were present in the Grove edition. Here is one :

"Normally we are in the position of the tourist (the traditional specification would consitute a pleonasm), whose aesthetic experience consists in a series of identifications and for whom Baedeker is the end rather than the means. Deprived by nature of the faculty of cognition and by upbringing with any of the laws of dynamics, a brief inscription immortalises his emotion. The creature of habit turns aside from the object that cannot be made to correspond with one or the other of his intellectual prejudices, that resists the propositions of his team of synthesies, organized by Habit on labour-saving principles." P 12, Grove edition

Try to get the Grove edition for the (presumably) complete version.
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