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The Bayreuth Ring 
BBC2, October 1982Show More
Parsifal 
directed by Hans-Jürgen Syberberg.
Edinburgh Film Festival, September 1982
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Parsifal 
by Lucy Beckett.
Cambridge, 163 pp., £9.95, August 1981, 0 521 22825 5
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Wagner and Literature 
by Raymond Furness.
Manchester, 159 pp., £14.50, February 1982, 0 7190 0844 1
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Wagner to ‘The Waste Land’: A Study of the Relationship of Wagner to English Literature 
by Stoddart Martin.
Macmillan, 277 pp., £20, June 1982, 0 333 28998 6
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Wagner and Aeschylus: ‘The Ring’ and ‘The Oresteia’ 
by Michael Ewans.
Faber, 271 pp., £12.50, July 1982, 0 571 11808 9
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... Chéreau’s Ring and Syberberg’s new film, and between Syberberg’s view of Parsifal and Lucy Beckett’s, are most illuminating. Beckett’s detailed, searching and provocative study can stand by Deryck Cooke’s magisterial I saw the world end (1979) and the long essay by Michael Tanner in the Faber Wagner ...

Beckett’s Buttonhook

Robert Taubman, 21 October 1982

Ill seen ill said 
by Samuel Beckett.
Calder, 59 pp., £4.95, August 1982, 0 7145 3895 7
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Mantissa 
by John Fowles.
Cape, 192 pp., £6.95, October 1982, 9780224029384
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Sounding the terriotory 
by Laurel Goldman.
Faber, 307 pp., £7.95, September 1982, 9780571119622
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Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant 
by Anne Tyler.
Chatto, 303 pp., £7.50, September 1982, 0 7011 2648 5
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... Beckett our contemporary – readers and audiences undoubtedly respond to him as a contemporary – is all the same very much a creature of the Twenties. He is the last great Modernist. His plays make use of Twenties techniques: hypnotic spotlights, loudspeakers, expressionistic props and highly-organised speech rhythms ...

Wheezes

Jonathan Coe, 13 May 1993

Cleopatra’s Sister 
by Penelope Lively.
Viking, 282 pp., £14.99, April 1993, 0 670 84830 1
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... Samuel Beckett was one of the first to realise that in a predominantly agnostic and sceptical age, nothing could be more irrelevant than the novel whose plot continued to imitate the workings of a benign deity: the writer’s new task, on the contrary, consisted in finding ‘a form that accommodates the mess’. Half a century has gone by since then, and still, both in and out of the mainstream, novelists are struggling to adapt their narrative strategies to the demands of a reality which, as any glance at the newspapers will remind us, grows daily more grotesque and unmanageable ...

Sorry to be so vague

Hugh Haughton: Eugene Jolas and Samuel Beckett, 29 July 1999

Man from Babel 
by Eugene Jolas.
Yale, 352 pp., £20, January 1999, 0 300 07536 7
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No Author Better Served: The Correspondence of Samuel Beckett and Alan Schneider 
edited by Maurice Harmon.
Harvard, 486 pp., £21.95, October 1998, 0 674 62522 6
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... later, the last issue was still churning out Work in Progress, now alongside work by Hans Arp, Beckett, Breton, Kafka (the first English translation of ‘Metamorphosis’, again by Jolas), Michel Leiris, Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, Herbert Read, Soupault and Jolas himself. Glancing through its faded and disintegrating back issues or reading Dougald ...

The Reality Effect

Jon Day: 'Did I think this, or was it Lucy Ellmann?', 25 November 2019

Ducks, Newburyport 
by Lucy Ellmann.
Galley Beggar, 1030 pp., £13.99, September 2019, 978 1 913111 98 4
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... Joyce came close to inventing a language that seemed to contain the mind’s endless restlessness.Lucy Ellmann’s new novel, Ducks, Newburyport, does not, despite the claims of some reviewers, consist of a single sentence (I counted 880). But it does contain one very long one: a comma-strewn stream that follows the thoughts of an Ohioan housewife during the ...

Beast and Frog

John Bayley, 4 November 1993

Dr Johnson & Mr Savage 
by Richard Holmes.
Hodder, 260 pp., £19.99, October 1993, 0 340 52974 1
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Samuel Johnson 
by Pat Rogers.
Oxford, 116 pp., £4.99, April 1993, 0 19 287593 0
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... we can see but not experience: living is necessarily independent of it. In his study of Samuel Beckett, Christopher Ricks says that we desire both oblivion and eternity; but except in the insidiously artificial world of writers like Beckett, who make death a cliché within the life of language, neither of these wishes ...

Good Manners

Craig Raine, 17 May 1984

The Collected Prose of Elizabeth Bishop 
edited by Robert Giroux.
Chatto, 278 pp., £12.95, March 1984, 0 7011 2809 7
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... the penalties exacted by certainty. Quiety, firmly, she insists on the absurdity of belief. Lucy, unlike her sisters, wishes to join the Baptist Church. They are Presbyterians, unfanatical, but not untouched by theological pedantry and its attendant callousness: ‘her news was that her sister’s baby had died the day before, although they had done ...

The New Deal

Tom Crewe, 16 August 2017

... as six weeks ago, the answer would have been yes, definitely. ‘British politics,’ Andy Beckett wrote in the Guardian last October, ‘feels relentlessly tabloid-dominated. From the daily obsession with immigrants to the rubbishing of human rights lawyers, from the march towards a “hard Brexit” to the smearing of liberal Britons as bad losers ...

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