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The Letters of Samuel Beckett: Volume 3, 1957-1965

Overview

This third volume of The Letters of Samuel Beckett focuses on the years when Beckett is striving to find a balance between the demands put upon him by his growing international fame, and his need for the peace and silence from which new writing might emerge. This is the period in which Beckett launches into work for radio, film and, later, into television. It also marks his return to writing fiction, with his first major piece for a decade, Comment c'est (How It Is). Where hitherto he has been reticent about the ...
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Overview

This third volume of The Letters of Samuel Beckett focuses on the years when Beckett is striving to find a balance between the demands put upon him by his growing international fame, and his need for the peace and silence from which new writing might emerge. This is the period in which Beckett launches into work for radio, film and, later, into television. It also marks his return to writing fiction, with his first major piece for a decade, Comment c'est (How It Is). Where hitherto he has been reticent about the writing process, now he devotes letter after letter to describing and explaining his work in progress. For the first time Beckett has a woman as his major correspondent: a relationship shown in his intense and abundant letters to Barbara Bray. The volume also provides critical introductions, chronologies, explanatory notes and profiles of Beckett's main correspondents.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
08/11/2014
In the third volume of this landmark project, the editors offer an expertly assembled selection of Beckett’s letters written between 1957 and 1965, ably supported by copious footnotes and explanatory text. Many are presented first in the original French and then in English, into which they have been translated for the first time. The sheer volume of letters collected here testifies to Beckett’s deep engagement with the theatrical world and his need to thrive “on the intensity and multiplicity of his connections.” The Beckett who is revealed is the opposite of a recluse—he is always meeting friends, attending arts festivals or theater productions, or traveling back and forth between his homes in Paris and Ussy-sur-Marne. He is most relaxed with longtime mistress Barbara Bray, to whom he wrote revealing, intimate, and touching letters. Yet it is his work that dominates his time and correspondence. Endgame premiered in 1957, Krapp’s Last Tape the following year, and all the while productions of Waiting for Godot and other plays were spanning the globe. At one point Beckett writes of a recent memoir, “I dislike all this personal stuff,” but readers will find much to like when allowed into Beckett’s personal life. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
"A model edition … an invaluable asset not only to Beckettian scholarship but also to readers with a keen interest in the author's work …"
Erica Mihalycsa, Babes-Bolyai University

"In the third volume of this landmark project, the editors offer an expertly assembled selection of Beckett's letters written between 1957 and 1965."
Publishers Weekly

"Superb … as with earlier volumes the editorial work on display here is of a very high order."
Standpoint

"Readers get an extraordinary insight into the mind of arguably this country's best playwright."
Irish Tatler

"The third volume is as impeccably and as lovingly edited as its predecessors … As always, George Craig’s translation of the letters in French is clear, elegant and always inventive - particularly felicitous, for instance, is his rendering of the French slang term mézigue as 'My Nibs'. Beckett would have loved it."
Irish Times

"The volume like its earlier companions is a work of meticulous scholarship and has to be counted a major achievement by Cambridge University Press."
Irish Independent

"Among all the tawdry showbiz memoirs now crowding the shops, here is greatness, words to take to heart, the book of the year."
Evening Standard

"A beautifully wrought publication and thanks to its four editors it has an artistry all of its own."
The Independent

From the Publisher
"A model edition,Letters, is an invaluable asset not only to Beckettian scholarship but also to readers with a keen interest in the author's work..."
-Erica Mihalycsa,Babes-Bolyai University
Library Journal
★ 10/01/2014
These letters—edited by Craig (Honorary Research Fellow, Univ. of Sussex), Martha Dow Fehsenfeld (coauthor, Beckett in the Theatre), Dan Gunn (comparative literature and English, American Univ. of Paris), and Lois More Overbeck (research associate, Emory Univ.)—written in the bloom of Nobel laureate Samuel Beckett's (1906–89) success as an author, are as much of a treasure as the man who wrote them. By 1957, Beckett's play Waiting for Godot was an international success and his Fin de Partie (Endgame) was published later that year. The letters reveal that with success Beckett's life changed. Want it or not, he was a celebrity involved in the publication and production of his works. Two strains appear in the missives contained in this volume. One is chit-chat; the writer connecting with friends, praising colleagues, and encouraging young authors. He comes across as vivacious, chatty at times, and generous to a fault. The other strain is his obsession with his writing, which never ceased. Beckett was never satisfied, not even with success. VERDICT Magnificent and accessible, this collection will be cherished by scholars, but lovers of theater will appreciate it, too.—David Keymer, Modesto, CA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521867955
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 10/16/2014
  • Series: Letters of Samuel Beckett Series
  • Pages: 816
  • Sales rank: 219,048
  • Product dimensions: 5.80 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

George Craig, Editor and French Translator, is an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Sussex.

Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Founding Editor, was authorized by Samuel Beckett to edit his correspondence in 1985.

Dan Gunn, Editor, is Professor of Comparative Literature and English at The American University of Paris.

Lois More Overbeck, General Editor, is a Research Associate of the Laney Graduate School, Emory University.

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Table of Contents

List of illustrations; General introduction; French translator's preface George Craig; Editorial procedures; Acknowledgements; Permissions; List of abbreviations; Introduction to Volume III Dan Gunn; Letters 1957–1965; Appendix: profiles; Bibliography of works cited; Index of recipients; Index of first names; Summary listing of Samuel Beckett's works, Volume III; General index.
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