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Highlight of Stay So Far

Stefan Collini: Beckett’s Letters

1 December 2016
The Letters of Samuel Beckett Vol. IV: 1966-89 
edited by George Craig, Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Dan Gunn and Lois More Overbeck.
Cambridge, 838 pp., £29.99, September 2016, 978 0 521 86796 2
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... the whole enhanced by George Craig’s witty and resourceful translations from the French.) Collectively, they give us a whole new anthology of Beckett’s writing. There is a sense in which, as DanGunn remarks in his lengthy introduction, these letters are not about his work; they are part of his work. It is slightly disappointing that the final volume doesn’t contain anything to match the ...

On Needing to Be Looked After

Tim Parks: Beckett’s Letters

1 December 2011
The Letters of Samuel Beckett: 1941-56 
edited by George Craig, Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Dan Gunn and Lois More Overbeck.
Cambridge, 791 pp., £30, September 2011, 978 0 521 86794 8
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... of letters. Gone are the guilt and dilemma, gone the sometimes elaborately contorted prose which had previously served as much as a bolthole as a means of saying anything. In his fine introduction DanGunn suggests that the war and Beckett’s protracted stay in France from 1939 to 1945 must have worked the change. The back and forth between Dublin, Paris and London, with the different personal ...

Under-the-Table-Talk

Christopher Tayler: Beckett’s Letters

19 March 2015
Letters of Samuel Beckett: 1957-65 
by George Craig, Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Dan Gunn and Lois More Overbeck.
Cambridge, 771 pp., £30, September 2014, 978 0 521 86795 5
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... MAN: It’s hard to imagine you with tired eyes, mademoiselle. Perhaps you don’t know, but you have very beautiful eyes. GIRL: They will be beautiful, monsieur, when the time comes … I’ll put up with whatever is necessary. And after my eyes have been beautiful, they’ll grow dim, as everyone else’s do. The French​ originals of these lines went out on Paris National Radio on 12 January ...

Joyce and Company

Tim Parks: Joyce’s Home Life

5 July 2012
James Joyce: A Biography 
by Gordon Bowker.
Phoenix, 608 pp., £14.99, March 2012, 978 0 7538 2860 1
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... Joyce’s life had always tended towards, a glorious failure, a monumental undertaking forever cited but rarely read. In his perceptive introduction to the second volume of Beckett’s letters, DanGunn suggests that the Second World War changed Beckett’s hitherto Joycean style. He had seen so much turmoil and destruction that his own obsessions became less urgent. Where he had been contorted ...

Lawrence Festival

Dan​ Jacobson

18 September 1980
... from different universities, to consider such issues as ‘D. H. Lawrence and his Influence on Modern Society’ and ‘D. H. Lawrence and his Influence on the Development of the Novel’. Thom Gunn, the Anglo-American poet, was also there; and so was Derek Walcott from the West Indies. Participating in our cogitations was an audience of several hundred who had paid for the privilege of ...

Forget the Dylai Lama

Thomas Jones: Bob Dylan

6 November 2003
Dylan's Visions of Sin 
by Christopher Ricks.
Viking, 517 pp., £25, October 2003, 9780670801336
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... Al Kida Blues’ (‘Cuba’s our enemy, unless we need a prison camp’). Al Kida is the name of a man who lives ‘somewhere in Cleveland’: ‘He’s freaking out.’ The singer’s name is Dan Bern. His parents moved to Mount Vernon, Iowa, where Bern was born, round about the time that Robert Zimmerman started calling himself Bob Dylan and left Hibbing, Minnesota, to head circuitously east ...

You Muddy Fools

Dan​ Jacobson: In the months before his death Ian Hamilton talked about himself to Dan Jacobson

14 January 2002
... Fantasy Press? Yes and no. The press as a poetry publishing operation, although it was pretty famous, had more or less stopped. It had published big figures in the 1950s: Larkin; a hardback of Thom Gunn’s Fighting Terms. It was all done by Oscar Mellor, a painter and photographer and, possibly, a pornographer. I think I might have gone to see him, knowing this connection with poetry publishing, to ...

The Ticking Fear

John Kerrigan: Louis MacNeice

7 February 2008
Louis MacNeice: Collected Poems 
edited by Peter McDonald.
Faber, 836 pp., £30, January 2007, 978 0 571 21574 4
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Louis MacNeice: Selected Poems 
edited by Michael Longley.
Faber, 160 pp., £12.99, April 2007, 978 0 571 23381 6
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I Crossed the Minch 
by Louis MacNeice.
Polygon, 253 pp., £9.99, September 2007, 978 1 84697 014 6
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The Strings Are False: An Unfinished Autobiography 
by Louis MacNeice, edited by E.R. Dodds.
Faber, 288 pp., £9.99, September 2007, 978 0 571 23942 9
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... but in the way damage is handed down through the generations. In MacNeice’s case, when his first wife left him, she also abandoned their baby son. The consequences of this would be agonising when Dan decided in the 1950s that he wanted to join his mother in America. The patterns of interruption that impelled MacNeice to write about Hank went back to Carrickfergus. So much goes back to ...

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