The Trotskyite Joyce!

Notes & Annotations:
Prose, Critique & Poetry

The Novels of Samuel Beckett

John Fletcher
Barnes & Noble, Reprint 1970, ISBN 0064921085; Hardcover, Out of Print. [Browse/Search for a Copy]

We have no details regarding this work -- any information is welcome!

Journey to Chaos: Samuel Beckett's Early Fiction

Raymond Federman
University of California Press, 1965, ISBN 0520003985; Hardcover, Out of Print. [Browse/Search for a Copy]

We have no details regarding this work -- any information is welcome!

Samuel Beckett: Poet and Critic

Lawrence Harvey
Princeton University, 1970, ISBN 0691061769; Hardcover, Out of Print. [Browse/Search for a Copy]

A study of Beckett's early work: his poetry and critique of Proust.

Structures de la trilogie de Beckett

Dina Sherzer
Prometheus Books, 1976, ISBN 9027934541; Hardcover, Out of Print. [Browse/Search for a Copy]

A French study of Beckett's great "Trilogy," Molloy, Malone Meurt, & L'Innommable.

Frescoes of the Skull: The Later Prose and Drama of Samuel Beckett

James Knowlson & John Pilling

1. Grove Press, 1979, ISBN 0394176103; Hardcover, Out of Print. [Browse/Search for a Copy]

2. Grove Press, 1980, ISBN 0394176103; Paperback, Out of Print. [Browse/Search for a Copy]

We have no details regarding this work -- any information is welcome!

Beckett and the Voice of Species: A Study of the Prose Fiction

Eric P. Levy
Barnes & Noble, 1980, ISBN 0389200042; Hardcover, $46.50. [Browse/Purchase]

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Samuel Beckett: A Study of the Short Fiction

Robert Cochran
Twayne, 1992, ISBN 0805783202; Hardcover $30.00. Out of Print. [
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From the Twayne "Studies in Short Fiction" series, No. 29.

Cambridge Companion to Samuel Beckett

John Pilling, editor.

1. Cambridge University Press, 1994, ISBN 0-521-41366-4; Hardcover $59.95. Out of Print. [Browse/Search for a Copy]

2. Cambridge University Press, 1994, ISBN 0-521-42413-5; Paperback $23.00 [Browse/Purchase]

From the popular and useful Cambridge "Companions to Literature" series. Details from the Publisher:

This book provides thirteen introductory essays on every aspect of the work of Samuel Beckett, paying particular attention to his most famous plays (e.g. Waiting for Godot and Endgame) and his prose fictions (e.g. the "trilogy" and Murphy). Further essays tackle his radio and television drama, his theater directing and his poetry, followed by more general issues such as Beckett's bilingualism and his relationship to the philosophers. A chronology of Beckett's life, a list of French and English titles and a list for further reading provide additional reference material.

A Reader's Guide to Samuel Beckett

Hugh Kenner
Syracuse University Press, Reprint 1996, ISBN 081560386X; Paperback $19.95 [Browse/Purchase]
From Syracuse University's "Irish Studies" series, this guide was authored by Joyce scholar Hugh Kenner, and was reprinted in 1996.

Demented Particulars: The Annotated Murphy

C. J. Ackerley
Preface by S. E. Gontarski

Journal of Beckett Studies Books, 1998, ISBN 1-892770-00-8; Paperback $18.95 [Order Direct] [Purchase from Amazon]

To hold a copy of Demented Particulars in your hands is to cradle a literary labor of love, a favored child carefully raised and nurtured, finally sent beaming into the world to capture the hearts and minds of the other parents at the Beckettian recital. To say that C. J. Ackerley, the proud parent in question, loves Beckett's first novel is an understatement. This book is the product of an obsession, the kind of divinely mad, all-consuming passion for a subject that requires one to live, breathe, eat and sleep with the work for month after month, gathering together every esoteric detail and finally publishing on the verge of collapse. I am sure that Ackerley lives in quiet agony every time a new take on Murphy comes to light, whether an academic paper or the tiniest gloss on a turn of phrase -- I can only thank God for the sake of his health that he hasn't taken on Finnegans Wake!
This is not give the wrong impression: the above comments are meant to be complimentary -- Ackerley's obsession is a good thing. Demented Particulars is an amazing book, exhaustive in its scope, far-reaching in its erudition; but always engaging and often quite humorous. More than just a collection of annotations, it includes an illuminating, 18-page essay on Murphy by S. E. Gontarski, a Murphy chronology, a 16-page bibliography, and a comprehensive index from Acasthisia to Zweispringerspott. Ackerley has gathered his eclectic material from a wealth of sources, tapping into the collected scholarship of the Journal of Beckett Studies and gaining access to numerous unpublished letters and manuscripts from the Beckett estate. Even the cover is illustrative, representing the image that Beckett had originally wanted to adorn Murphy: two monkeys engaged in a game of chess.
But of course, the annotations are the heart and soul of the book. Ackerley lays the textual body of Murphy open for complete dissection, exposing the dense connective tissues of intertextual allusion, plucking out and weighing Beckett's 50-cent words, and surgically tagging an inconceivably broad array of references and quotations. By conducting a deeper analysis than just annotation, Ackerley proves to be a capable geneticist as well. Armed with original letters, manuscripts, and notebooks, he frequently traces the developments of the text itself, showing how Beckett's ideas evolved and changed during the composition of the novel. Sibling relations have their place, too, and many of the intertextual annotations point to Beckett's other works, from the early poetry of Whoroscope to his final piece for the stage, What Where. While it would be impossible to convey with any justice the sheer breadth and depth of Ackerley's project, a few sample gems should suggest its many riches:

3.8 [6]: Apmonia...Isonomy...Attunement: Terms arising from Beckett's reading of the Presocratics, specifically John Burnet's Early Greek Philosophy. The joke turns on the witty greek letter rho masquerading as a Roman 'p'; Kennedy observes [302] that Burnet's Greek Philosophy offers the capitalized form, APMONIA [45]. O'Hara calls Neary's philosophical knowledge superficial, curiously missing the joke. [Hidden Drives, 45]. Apmonia has the clear shape of our "harmony" but its sense in Greek is akin to "octave." The great contribution of Pythagoras to acoustics was his discovery that the concordant intervals of the musical scale could be expressed by simple mathematical ratios. Burnet notes [EGP, 112]: "In principle, at least, that suggests an entirely new view of the relation between the traditional 'opposites.' If a perfect attunement (αρμονια) of the high and low can be attained by observing these ratios, it is clear that other opposites may be similarly harmonized."

109.3 [64]: a kick: the reflex of a malevolent deity, or donkey, when goaded; as most viciously expressed in More Kicks than Pricks (1934). That title is a critique of the experience of Saul on the road to Damascus [Acts 9:5 & 26:14], when he hears the voice of Jesus saying: "It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks."

119.2 [69]: acasthisia: for a round of word golf, consult the Supplement to the OED, where this word is defined as "the inability to sit down," and this given as the sole citation.

261.2 [146]: irrrefragible: that which cannot be rrefuted.

Demented Particulars may be ordered from the Journal Web site, where you may print out a PDF order form and mail it in with a check. Or, for a few dollars more, it may be purchased online through (ABR)

Samuel Beckett's Mal Vu Mal Dit/Ill Seen Ill Said: A Bilingual, Evolutionary and Synoptic Variorum Edition

Samuel Beckett; Charles Krance, editor.
Garland Publishing, 1996, ISBN 082403449X; Hardcover $75.00. Out of Print. [
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From Book News, May 1, 1996:

A bilingual variorum edition of Beckett's work providing a complete range of manuscript variants which, with the help of the synoptical apparatus, allows the reader to reconstruct and study the text's evolution through its various drafts. The two versions of each text are placed on facing pages, enabling the bilingual reader to read both versions comparatively.

Technique and Tradition in Beckett's Trilogy of Novels

Gönül Pultar
University Press of America, 1996, ISBN 0-7618-0306-8; Hardcover $46.50. Out of Print. [
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From the Publisher:

This book discusses Molloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable, the novels that make up Samuel Beckett's well-known trilogy, to analyze the techniques employed and trace the traditions from which they have emanated. The book is made up of an Introduction and six chapters. The first chapter discusses Molloy, viewing its protagonist as a writer who is alienated but as such serves as a modern-day Everyman. The second chapter discusses Malone Dies with particular emphasis on its mode of narration and considers phenomenology to be the key to the "narrative consciousness" of the novel. The third chapter discusses The Unnamable with the aim of examining its constituent elements, and the particular amalgam of fact and fiction. The fourth chapter discusses the Continental confessional aspect of the trilogy, examining such earlier Continental examples as Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther and Dostoevsky's Notes from the Underground. The fifth chapter discusses the Continental philosophical novel aspect of the trilogy, and situates the three novels within the framework of the post-World War II French philosophical novel tradition.

Go To:

Criticism Main Page -- Returns you to the Main Criticism page and the Quick Reference Card of titles.

Biography -- Beckett's life and times, as well as letters, conversations, and anecdotes.

General Criticism -- General literary criticism or commentary on Beckett and his writing.

Drama -- Guides and criticism for specific dramatic works and stage pieces.

Specific Criticism -- Beckett criticism with a specific angle: existential, psychological, religious, nationalist, feminist, etc.

Theatre & the Arts -- Criticism and biography relating to Beckett in performance and non-print media.

Comparative -- Studies of Beckett in context with other authors or artists.

--Allen B. Ruch
& Tim Conley
9 March 2003

"Damn the mail" -- Send email to Apmonia's Tim Conley and the Great Quail -- comments, suggestions, corrections, criticisms, submissions . . . all are welcome!