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on 16 November 2002
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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on 27 December 2013
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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on 19 October 2015
Bought this as a gift for a friend who is currently enjoying it. One small thing... there was a small tear on the cover, but apart from that this is making my friend very happy and he is enjoying it thoroughly. sorry I can't be more specific about the book itself, I haven't read it. By all accounts from my friend, if you're a fan of his work, this is a great book to have!
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on 19 November 2012
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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on 14 November 2014
This is a very hefty volume. Although packed with useful information about Beckett, it is far too dense to read lightheartedly, even if one could spare the time these days. Nevertheless a useful addition to the libraries of Beckett afficionados.
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on 8 January 2015
One of the great biographies of our time - equal to Painter on Proust, or Elmann on Joyce
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on 15 May 2016
Great background to Beckett, especially his childhood.
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on 1 January 2000
as meticulous in its research and description as Beckett's own work - great
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on 21 October 2013
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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on 15 March 2012
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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