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The Letters of Samuel Beckett: Volume 3, 1957-1965 Hardcover – 18 Sep 2014

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 816 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (18 Sept. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521867959
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521867955
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 4 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 145,546 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

Samuel Beckett was born in Dublin in 1906. He was educated at Portora Royal School and Trinity College, Dublin, where he graduated in 1927. His made his poetry debut in 1930 with Whoroscope and followed it with essays and two novels before World War Two. He wrote one of his most famous plays, Waiting for Godot, in 1949 but it wasn't published in English until 1954. Waiting for Godot brought Beckett international fame and firmly established him as a leading figure in the Theatre of the Absurd. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1961. Beckett continued to write prolifically for radio, TV and the theatre until his death in 1989.

Product Description

Review

'In the third volume of this landmark project, the editors offer an expertly assembled selection of Beckett's letters written between 1957 and 1965.' Publishers Weekly

'Superb … as with earlier volumes the editorial work on display here is of a very high order.' Standpoint

'Readers get an extraordinary insight into the mind of arguably this country's best playwright.' Irish Tatler

'The third volume is as impeccably and as lovingly edited as its predecessors … As always, George Craig's translation of the letters in French is clear, elegant and always inventive - particularly felicitous, for instance, is his rendering of the French slang term mézigue as 'My Nibs'. Beckett would have loved it.' Irish Times

'The volume like its earlier companions is a work of meticulous scholarship and has to be counted a major achievement by Cambridge University Press.' Emer O'Kelly, Irish Independent

'Among all the tawdry showbiz memoirs now crowding the shops, here is greatness, words to take to heart, the book of the year.' David Sexton, Evening Standard

'A beautifully wrought publication and thanks to its four editors it has an artistry all of its own.' Sean Doran, The Independent

Book Description

This edition makes available for the first time a comprehensive range of letters by one of the twentieth century's greatest literary figures. This volume (1957–1965) shows Beckett reacting to, and building on, the success of Waiting for Godot with new work for the theatre, for radio and television.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Post Scriptum VINE VOICE on 16 Nov. 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This second volume of correspondence covers the years from 1941 to 1956, and includes the author's various artistic, commercial and legal concerns relating to the evolution and assimilation of some of his most important and interesting works, such as Watt, Mercier and Camier, The End, Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable and, of course, Waiting for Godot. There are also many insights into the 'ordinary' life of the man as well as the writer, as he discusses everything from nagging colds to exciting excursions to the music hall and the theatre. One cannot really summarise such a vast range of letters to so many different kinds of correspondents, but one can certainly confirm that any reader will encounter innumerable fascinating details as he or she moves from page to page. One little piece of trivia, for example, occurs in a letter written in 1955, when Beckett relates, with a hint of excitement, that a New York promoter was attempting to stage Godot on Broadway with Buster Keaton as Vladimir and Marlon Brando as Estragon. Another tiny but intriguing remark occurs in a letter dated the following year, when (eight years before the making of Film) the author expresses his disenchantment with the cinema, writing: 'The cinema was killed in the cradle and if ever there is an Elijah to lie himself down on the corpse I won't be there to profit by it'. There are also many passages when, during the course of accounting the prosaic details of his everyday life, his style, his syntax, is the most interesting aspect of the discussion (e.g. 'I'm writing one short act straight into English. Nothing better to do here. I've planted some trees, including a cedar of Lebanon. I've seen no-one').Read more ›
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Just William on 18 Mar. 2012
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
It's a huge book so I shall be brief. A book for Beckett enthusiasts rather than general readers and continuing on from the well-received first volume, this collection of Beckett's letters covers the period that saw him achieve success with some of his most famous work including the classic play, Waiting for Godot. Beckett only allowed letters that directly related to his work to be published so those in search of something more intimate will be disappointed. But for those with a keen interest in the man and his work there will doubtless be plenty in here to satisfy as well as the pleasure that comes from having such an exhaustive reference on the shelf for years to come.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Nadim Bakhshov VINE VOICE on 14 Dec. 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
There are points in the letters which open up insights into Beckett's world that justify hours of hunting but there is also a lot of literary superfluity here.

The question anyone has to ask is: whether someone were to publish Beckett's shopping list, or jobs to do at home list - would that be of interest, or value?

There is a curious contradiction in our grasp of literature and the notion of authorship. From the extremity of denying the subject as author to the other extreme of reading a writer's life retrospectively through the great works they produce. Did Beckett know what he was producing? I think we have to be cautious here - you write out of necessity, of some compulsion that has its roots just out of sight. As a writer you try to reach in and grasp that root, to find what burns you, compels you to put pen to paper and articulate what seems worthless. But you do it anyway. Is there a clue in your outward life or do you write letters semi-consciously? Do you suspect that what you are writing has something more - possibly.

This is the conundrum at the heart of these letters. Did Beckett know his place? Or did this acute awareness shadow these letters and make them semi-literary products in their own right?

You decide.
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11 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Alan Pavelin VINE VOICE on 31 Oct. 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This 800-odd page tome is doubtless of great interest to serious Beckett scholars, whether their particular interest is in the works or the man, but for the general reader it is somewhat disappointing. For one thing, as explained in the introduction Beckett specified that only letters relating to his work were to be published, and the Beckett estate has adopted a strict interpretation of this. As a result, only 40 per cent of the letters he wrote in this 15-year period (effectively a 10-year period because in the early 1940s he was working for the French resistance) were allowed to be published. And whereas I was hoping for lots of his critical ideas and opinions on literary and dramatic matters, what we get is much more in the nature of business matters concerning possible or actual productions of his work. Every letter he wrote in French is followed by an English translation, and there are copious notes by the editors about the various correspondents and others he mentions.

This is not a book to read straight through from beginning to end. My method was to go through the index, looking up references to any person or subject which interested me. There is a 16-page General Introduction (i.e. to the whole 4-volume series), and a 30-page Introduction to Volume II, and to be honest I found this of more interest than most of the letters themselves. Quite by chance I spotted an error in one of the footnotes (page 587): the actor Peter Bull, who was in the original London production of Waiting for Godot, died in 1984, not 1955 as stated. One hopes there are not many other such errors.

So, although as a general reader with only a passing interest in Beckett I found little to absorb me, in deference to genuine Beckett scholars I'm giving it a 3-star rating instead of something lower.
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