Fifteen Eighty Four

Academic perspectives from Cambridge University Press


Samuel Beckett Letters in New York Times

beckett-letters-thAnd the reviewer identifies the best quality of my favorite Cambridge books–they come with academic trappings and all the necessary scholarly apparatus, but

“…reading it is far from homework: the Beckett we meet in these piquant letters, most written when he was in his late 20s and early 30s, is rude, mordantly witty and scatological yet often (and this is perhaps the biggest surprise) affectionate and wholehearted.”

Beckett’s letters really are a joy to read, and the Times review really validates the massive amount of work the editors put into The Letters of Samuel Beckett: 1929-1940. I spoke with one of them, Lois Overbeck of Emory University, a few days ago. She told me that there’s a long way to go and grants to secure before the next volumes are ready, so send her your encouragement! After all, they’re full of priceless nuggets:

“Some of the best material here is Beckett’s dyspeptic book talk. He calls Darwin’s “Origin of Species” ‘badly written catlap.’ Some of Proust’s work is ‘a maudlin false teeth gobble-gobble discharge from a colic-afflicted belly.’ Lawrence is ‘a tedious kindling of damp.’ Always a champion of underdogs, he wrote in one letter: ‘Miss Costello said to me: “You haven’t a good word to say for anyone but the failures.” I thought it was quite the nicest thing anyone had said to me for a long time.'”

Check out the full review here >>

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