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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent - kept my attention thoughout !!
James Knowlson's masterwork is an amazingly detailed and dedicated account of Samuel Becketts life, from a close long time friend.
Whether you are a student of Beckett, or a newcomer to his work, this book is a great read. It is a hefty volume - over 800 pages including extensive notes, bibliography and index - but don't let that put you off.

He...
Published on 16 Nov 2002 by Amazon Customer

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hard Going
I was really excited about reading this book, but after reading half of it, I can't understand why the other reviewers are so enthusiastic about it. It is certainly hugely detailed but I thought the author was so different from Beckett in his character and perspective on life that the chances of a perceptive comment were minimal. I know he was a friend of Beckett's and...
Published 6 months ago by Paul Johnston


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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent - kept my attention thoughout !!, 16 Nov 2002
By 
Amazon Customer (Glasgow, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett (Paperback)
James Knowlson's masterwork is an amazingly detailed and dedicated account of Samuel Becketts life, from a close long time friend.
Whether you are a student of Beckett, or a newcomer to his work, this book is a great read. It is a hefty volume - over 800 pages including extensive notes, bibliography and index - but don't let that put you off.

He manages to discuss and inform on Beckett's work without getting too heavily into literary criticism, which stops the book becoming stuffy. As Beckett lived most of his life in Dublin, London and Paris, we also get an overview of almost a century of European history, through the eyes of a great intellect and original thinker.including his period working for the resistance during the second world war, which for me was one of the highlights of the book.
Depite his shy and reclusive nature, Beckett met and worked with some of the worlds greatest writers, artists and actors - all of whom come alive in this insightful book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not called "THE Life of SB" for nothing: this is the standard text., 20 Dec 2011
This review is from: Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett (Paperback)
I've recently been re-reading passages of Knowlson's biography since I was struggling through Beckett's novel "How It Is". This book helped no end, and in a nutshell re-enforced why this is the standard work on Beckett to turn to. For the student, scholar or enthusiast it gives plenty of background information on the individual works (their composition, contents and main themes, even critical responses).

Meanwhile the book stints at nothing to give as full a picture as it can of the man and his life. This puts it head and shoulders above Dierdre Bair's biog (the first to be written but done without Beckett's co-operation and far too reliant on his letters to Thomas McGreevy, hence the relative lack of focus on the later years). Also Anthony Cronin's book, while livelier and more sprightly than Knowlson's book, just hasn't got the depth or range of this book.

If there is a drawback, it's that Knowlson's style is a tad dry in places, to the extent that you might be tempted to skip passages. However, the highlights on offer include Beckett describing in his own words his early years, and the insight Knowlson gives into those crucial years just before, during and straight after WWII, which in many ways you can see as being the making of Beckett the writer we now know.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Hard Going, 21 Oct 2013
By 
Paul Johnston - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett (Paperback)
I was really excited about reading this book, but after reading half of it, I can't understand why the other reviewers are so enthusiastic about it. It is certainly hugely detailed but I thought the author was so different from Beckett in his character and perspective on life that the chances of a perceptive comment were minimal. I know he was a friend of Beckett's and that Beckett was happy for him to write the biography, but I was tempted to conclude that this was a wry Beckettian joke. Better to have Mary Poppins write his biography than someone who might actually intrude onto his very private world.
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5.0 out of 5 stars very good stuff, 27 Dec 2013
This review is from: Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett (Paperback)
Many years ago, i guess it was in 1998 ou 1999, i bought this book in Paris. I read it through and was amazed to see that Beckett had spent a few months in the later part of 1968 and early 1969 in my hometown of Funchal, Madeira, and Porto santo as well, to recover from a pulmonary problem. I didn't know that. In those days i was a journalist for the local paper 'Diário de Notícias' and wrote an article about his trip to Madeira. I managed to contact the local tour operator, Luís Jardim, who still owned a few of Beckett's plays autographed. Apparently Sam Beckett was so pleased with the way Luís Jardim took care of things in Madeira that ordered the books and signed them as a gift for him. James Knowlson's 'Damned to Fame' is a revelation and extremely well written. A must have for any Sam Beckett fan.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Essential Biography for all Beckett Students, 19 Nov 2012
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Titu (Canterbury, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett (Paperback)
I got a paperback edition from Book Depository for around 5 quids. It was in great shape and is a comprehensive biography of Samuel Beckett with some excellent photos of Samuel Beckett (that I had never seen before), his family and friends. A must have for all Beckett scholars.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars impressive, 1 Jan 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett (Paperback)
as meticulous in its research and description as Beckett's own work - great
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Damned to Fame, 15 Mar 2012
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Mr. I. Roffey - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett (Paperback)
Excellent writing. Gets the mind thinking.A really good read for any fan of Beckett.
Perhaps one of his best efforts.
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Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett
Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett by James Knowlson (Paperback - 4 Sep 1997)
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