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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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... some of it is to fend off the boredom of communicating, some of it is a long-cultivated form of intimacy with Bray. As he reflexively rounds off another letter to her: ‘Can think of nothing more of uninterest to say.’ No cliché is so stale, no metaphor so dead that Beckett can’t find a way to make it twitch: ‘My spirits, though they lack altitude, are far from extinguished.’ Setting ...

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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... Le Monde’s review had begun by saying that to encourage plays like this would drive theatre to its ‘derniers spasmes’, and after two weeks the producers pulled the plug. The broadcast found a more receptive listener in Samuel Beckett, who wasn’t only in favour of an art of last gasps but had recently been brooding on radio drama as a pure play of sound and silence. ‘Merveilleux ...

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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... of any thought or act other than the rudimentary thoughts and acts belted into it by the priests and by the demagogues in service of the priests, or that it will ever care, if it ever knows, any more than the Bog of Allen will ever care or know, that there was once a painter in Ireland called Jack Butler Yeats. Like McGreevy, Beckett was fascinated by Jack Yeats; in these letters Yeats 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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... in which Beckett, now in Jungian analysis in London, acknowledges a possible psychosomatic basis to his ailments: For years I was unhappy, consciously & deliberately … so that I isolated myself more & more, undertook less & less & lent myself to a crescendo of disparagement of others & myself … The misery & solitude & apathy & the sneers were the elements of an index of superiority ...

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