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Il n’y a pas de Beckett

Christopher Prendergast, 14 November 1996

Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett 
by James Knowlson.
Bloomsbury, 872 pp., £25, September 1996, 0 7475 2719 9
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Samuel Beckett: The Last Modernist 
by Anthony Cronin.
HarperCollins, 645 pp., £25, October 1996, 9780246137692
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The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett. Vol I: Waiting for Godot 
edited by Dougald McMillan and James Knowlson.
Faber, 472 pp., £75, March 1994, 0 571 14543 4
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The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett. Vol II: Endgame 
edited by S.E. Gontarski.
Faber, 276 pp., £50, November 1992, 0 571 14544 2
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The Theatrical Notebooks of Samuel Beckett. Vol III: Krapp’s Last Tape 
edited by James Knowlson.
Faber, 286 pp., £50, May 1992, 0 571 14563 9
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Eleutheria 
by Samuel Beckett, translated by Barbara Wright.
Faber, 170 pp., £6.99, September 1996, 9780571178261
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... considerations of a less starkly ultimate kind might arise in connection with the subtitle of James Knowlson’s new biography: ‘The Life of Samuel Beckett’. (The main title looks suspiciously like a publisher’s wheeze, a low-grade spin on Beckett’s desperate formula for the modern artist as doomed to fail or, more tantalisingly, as driven by ...

Celtic Revisionism

Patrick Parrinder, 24 July 1986

A Short History of Irish Literature 
by Seamus Deane.
Hutchinson, 282 pp., £15, March 1986, 0 09 161360 4
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The Peoples of Ireland 
by Liam de Paor.
Hutchinson, 344 pp., £15, April 1986, 9780091561406
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Portrait of Ireland 
by Liam de Paor.
Rainbow, 192 pp., £13.95, May 1986, 1 85120 004 5
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The Complete Dramatic Works 
by Samuel Beckett.
Faber, 476 pp., £12.50, April 1986, 0 571 13821 7
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The Beckett Country: An Exhibition for Samuel Beckett’s 80th Birthday 
by Eoin O’Brien and James Knowlson.
Black Cat, 97 pp., £5, May 1986, 0 948050 03 9
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... could be hanged as a British traitor for war crimes committed in Germany. William Joyce and James Joyce had their British passports in common. At least James’s literary nationality has never been in doubt, though this is scarcely true of his friend and compatriot Samuel Beckett. It would be interesting to know how ...

Who to Be

Colm Tóibín: Beckett’s Letters, 6 August 2009

The Letters of Samuel Beckett 1929-40 
edited by Martha Dow Fehsenfeld and Lois More Overbeck.
Cambridge, 782 pp., £30, February 2009, 978 0 521 86793 1
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... Beckett wrote: ‘Glad to hear that Boss bears me no ill-will. But that I knew beforehand.’ James Knowlson writes in his biography: ‘His uncle seems to have understood better than his aunt the needs of fiction and not been too cross. As for Cissie, she was very upset at first. But she quickly forgave him, after he wrote a letter pleading with her ...

My Darlings

Colm Tóibín: Drinking with Samuel Beckett, 5 April 2007

... out of it, or the title of the second anyway. Finn. Finnegan. It was here on 10 June 1904 that James Joyce met Nora Barnacle, who worked in the hotel. The two young strangers who had locked eyes stopped to talk, and they arranged to meet four days later outside the house where Sir William Wilde, eye surgeon to the queen in Ireland, if she should have ever ...

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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... artists or writers, as ‘Cash that bloody cheque – for God’s sake, I don’t need it.’ James Knowlson’s biography reports that when his painter friend Henri Hayden was hospitalised in 1962 he looked after the Haydens’ tax bills as well as their rent. Beckett was, in other words, beginning to resemble the otherworldly, saintly figure of ...

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