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Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett Paperback – 4 Sep 1997

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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  • Three Novels: Molloy, Malone Dies, the Unnamable
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Product details

  • Paperback: 896 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; New edition edition (4 Sept. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747531692
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747531692
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 81,851 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Amazon Review

Samuel Beckett, a talent so exceptional that he created masterpieces in both French and English, shied away from the limelight for much of his life. However, in this amazing biography James Knowlson shows Beckett wasn't completely reluctant to talk about himself; the book relies heavily on interviews with Beckett to reconstruct the writer's dizzying career. Knowlson fills the pages with exhaustive detail--some major, some minor. In addition, he analyzes the influences on and evolution of Beckett's work. Through it all a larger picture emerges, one of the artist at work and in life. Damned to Fame is a necessary addition to any study of Beckett.

Review

'A landmark in scholarly criticism... Knowlson is the world's largest Beckett scholar. His life is right up there with George Painter's Proust and Richard Ellmann's Joyce in sensitivity and fascination' Daily Telegraph 'Essential, not only for the fact and details it offers, but for emphasising less well-known aspects of Beckett's life... the result is a clear, authoritative and exhaustively annotated biography' Independent on Sunday 'A triumph of scholarship and sympathy... James Knowlson presents us here with a tremendous act of elucidation and synthesis, ballasted with hitherto unseen diaries and underpinned by the bonus of Beckett's own plain reminiscences... Its amplitude, its oceanic research and tireless intelligence, its pacing and verve and critical acuity mark it as one of the great post-war biographies. Whatever celestial or infernal zone he currently occupies, Beckett must be permitting himself a brief wintry smile at last' Independent 'It is hard to imagine a fuller portrait of the man who gave our age some of the myths by which it lives' Evening Standard

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4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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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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Format: 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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One of the great biographies of our time - equal to Painter on Proust, or Elmann on Joyce
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Great background to Beckett, especially his childhood.
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By A Customer on 1 Jan. 2000
Format: Paperback
as meticulous in its research and description as Beckett's own work - great
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