Samuel Beckett

Miscellaneous

I Can't Go On, I'll Go On: A Samuel Beckett Reader

Grove Press, 1992, ISBN 0-8021-3287-1; Paperback $15.95 [Browse/Purchase]

Grove Press' Beckett Reader is a wonderful overview of the Beckett oeuvre, with a very informative introductory essay by Richard Seaver. Containing the complete texts of Waiting for Godot, Krapp's Last Tape, several short stories and dramatic works, it also features excerpts from several novels and a good sampling of poetry and essays.

Introduction

Part I -- Early Works (1929-1946)

Fiction:
Dante and the Lobster
From Murphy
From Watt

Poetry:
Whoroscope
From Echo's Bones:
The Vulture
Serene I
Serena III
Sanies I
Sanies II
Da Tadte Es
Echo's Bones
Cascando
Saint-Lô

Criticism:
Dante...Bruno.Vico..Joyce

Part II -- The Post-War Years (1946-1960)

Fiction:
First Love
From Mercier and Camier
The Expelled
Molloy (Part 1)
From The Unnamable
Texts for Nothing 11, 13

Dramatic Works:
Waiting for Godot
Krapp's Last Tape

Part III -- Later Works (1960-1975)

Fiction:
How It Is (Part 1)
Imagination Dead Imagine
Lessness

Dramatic Works:
Cascando
Eh Joe
Not I
That Time

Selected Bibliography

For additional information and commentary, see the rest of Apmonia's Works section for an individual piece.

Collected Poems in English & French

(1930 -1977)

Grove Press, 1977, ISBN 0-8021-3096-8; Paperback $13.00 [Browse/Purchase]

This volume collects all of Beckett's poetry in both English and French, with English translations provided for many of the French pieces. Apmonia commentary is forthcoming.

Proust

(1931)

Riverrun Press, 1989, ISBN 0714500348; Paperback $11.95. Out of Print. [Browse/Search for a Copy]

Although Joyce and Dante regularly receive the most attention as his precursors and models, while he was still toying with a possible academic career Beckett produced a singular and ingenious study which points to another such figure. In Proust, his most extensive effort of literary criticism, Beckett diagnoses the nature of "Proust's pessimism" and because the procedure is as grisly as it is humourous -- "for every tumour a scalpel and a compress" -- the reader is unlikely to avoid alternating between winces and grins. Beckett's often visceral vocabulary is in full force here as he lays open the banality of consciousness as it reveals itself in À la recherche du temps perdu and shows how "the fine essence of a smothered divinity whose whispered 'disfazione' is drowned in the healthy bawling of an all-embracing appetite, the pearl that may give the lie to our carapace of paste and pewter." It is remarkable to note how intertwined Beckett's phrases and metaphors are with Proust's own, a stylistic and structural feature to the essay not always made explicit by the formalities of quotation. Less than one hundred pages in a small paperback, Proust is large in its scope, fierce in its intuition, and requires more than one attentive reading. Here is a savoury taste:

But if love, for Proust, is a function of man's sadness, friendship is a function of his cowardice; and, if neither can be realized because of the impenetrability (isolation) of all that is not 'cosa mentale', at least the failure to possess may have the nobility of that which is tragic, whereas the attempt to communicate where no communication is possible is merely a simian vulgarity, or horribly comic, like the madness that holds a conversation with the furniture. Friendship, according to Proust, is the negation of that irremediable solitude to which every human being is condemned. Friendship implies an almost piteous acceptance of face values. Friendship is a social expedient, like upholstery or the distribution of garbage buckets. It has no spiritual significance. For the artist, who does not deal in surfaces, the rejection of friendship is not only reasonable, but a necessity. Because the only possible spiritual development is in the sense of depth. The artistic tendency is not expansive, but a contraction. And art is the apotheosis of solitude. There is no communication because there are no vehicles of communication.

The images, ideas, and phrases we most associate with Beckett himself there are to be found, in primordial form, in the above statements (though I doubt Beckett shared quite the same definition of friendship). At the mention of "conversation with the furniture" and "the distribution of garbage buckets" one thinks of the vessels that contain and yet separate in Endgame and Play, while Lucky's speech of intellectual gobbledygook in Godot is indeed "a simian vulgarity" and "horribly comic." Most striking about this particular passage in this regard, however, are the concerns with "necessity" and "communication," as it is in the contentions between these two notions that Beckett progressively located his own work. In his admiration for Proust's "impressionism," his detachment from moral consideration, and his rejection of an imbalance of values between the waking mind and the dreaming one, Beckett also finds affinities with Schopenhauer. Proust's view that the artist's duty and task are those of the translator presages Beckett's own bilingual self-doubling. A good question: how different a book would be a study of Beckett by Proust? (TC)

Disjecta: Miscellaneous Writings and a Dramatic Fragment

Edited by Ruby Cohn

Grove Press, 1984, ISBN 0-8021-5129-9; Paperback $12.00 [Browse/Purchase]

This collection of miscellanea spans Beckett's career, and has many fascinating gems to offer, including his famous essay on Joyce's Finnegans Wake, his bogus literary hoax "Le Concentrisme," and numerous insights on the artistic process in his own and other's work. The volume includes:

Part I: Essays at Esthetics
1. Dante...Bruno.Vico..Joyce
2. Le Concentrisme
3. Excerpts from Dream of Fair to Middling Women
4. German Letter of 1937
5. Les Deux Besoins

Part II: Words about Writers
A. Other Writers
1. Moerike on Mozart
2. Feuillerat on Proust
3. Leishmann's Rilke translation
4. Thomas McGreevy
5. Recent Irish Poetry
6. Ezra Pound
7. Papini on Dante
8. Sean O' Casey
9. Censorship in the Street
10. Jack B. Yeats
11. Denis Devlin
12. McGreevy on Jack B. Yeats

B. Self
1. The Possessed
2. On Murphy (to McGreevy)
3. On Murphy (to Reavy)
4. On Works to 1951
5. On Endgame
6. On Play
7. On Murphy (to Sighle Kennedy)
8. Pragram note for Endgame

Part III: Words about Painters
1. Geer van Velde
2. La Peinture des van Velde
3. Peintres de l'Empêchement
4. Three Dialogues
5. Henri Hayden Homme-Peintre
6. Hommage à Jack B. Yeats
7. Henri Heyden
8. Bram van Velde
9. Pour Avigdor Arikha

Part IV: Human Wishes (Dramatic fragment)

Notes

Apmonia commentary is forthcoming.

Go To:

Works Main Page -- The main Works page with the Quick Reference Card.

Fiction -- Novels and novellas.

Short Prose -- Short stories & fragments.

Dramas -- Long plays for the stage.

Shorter Plays -- Smaller one-act works for the stage.

Plays for Various Media -- Pieces for radio, TV & film.

Bibliography -- A complete bibliography of Beckett's work.


--Tim Conley
& A. Ruch
22 October 2001




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