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The Letters of Samuel Beckett

The Letters of Samuel Beckett

Volume 2. 1941–1956

$49.99 (G)

Part of The Letters of Samuel Beckett

  • Date Published: September 2011
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521867948

$ 49.99 (G)

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About the Authors
  • This second volume of The Letters of Samuel Beckett opens with the War years, when it was often impossible or too dangerous to correspond. The surge of letters beginning in 1945, and their variety, are matched by the outpouring and the range of Beckett's published work. Primarily written in French and later translated by the author, the work includes stories, a series of novels (Molloy, Malone Dies, and The Unnamable), essays and plays – most notably Waiting for Godot. The letters chronicle a passionately committed but little known writer evolving into a figure of international reputation, and his response to such fame. The volume provides detailed introductions which discuss Beckett's situation during the War and his crucial move into the French language, as well as translations of the letters, explanatory notes, year-by-year chronologies, profiles of correspondents and other contextual information.

    • Presents Beckett's letters, many for the first time, gathered from archival and private collections worldwide, with detailed background information
    • This volume comprises the composition and first performance of Waiting for Godot
    • Includes chronologies, biographies of Beckett's correspondents and information about the current location of the letters
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Anyone who admires Beckett will want to read and own this book."
    -Michael Dirda, The Washington Post

    "Not to beat about the bush, here's the book of the year … Beckett's is the most significant literary correspondence of its time … a marvelous book."
    -David Sexton, Evening Standard

    "Here it is: just two years after the first volume, the second installment of what promises to be one of the great productions of literary scholarship of our time"
    -Nicholas Grene, The Irish Times

    "Indispensable ... Biographers and scholars have done much to help us understand those writings’ background, their sources both literary and personal. What it meant to be their author, though, becomes clearer and clearer with the publication of his letters, which restore to the foreground an artist who was neither a secular saint nor the seminar-haunting purveyor of postmodern nostrums that some academic work has willed into being."
    -Alan Jenkins, Times Literary Supplement

    "One more masterly stroke in this landmark project… Whether the [subsequent] letters are as moving and entertaining as in the first two volumes remains to be seen. I for one can't wait."
    -Gabriel Josipovici, The Wall Street Journal

    "There is enough evidence of his [Beckett’s] character in these pages to keep the most casual reader absorbed, and the meticulous footnotes and appendices mean that every should be able to find their bearings. And the best news is there are still two volumes left to come."
    -Edmund Gordon, The Sunday Times (London)

    "The heartwarming quality of these letters ... is Beckett’s trust in his own experience. The more he drove himself to theoretical exactitudes, the more he acknowledged the claim of his own verities. He never allowed his practice to be intimidated by his theory."
    -Denis Donoghue, The New York Times Book Review

    "A mesmerizing feat that yields many vivid, surprising, and significant texts"
    -Glyn Vincent, Huffington Post

    "Overall, these 'Letters,' more than just presenting a masterful French writer — the original language of many of these missives — give the impression of Beckett’s inherent virtue, as Lindon wrote in a 1967 tribute, his 'nobility and modesty, lucidity and goodness… so real, so truly great, and so good.'"
    -Benjamin Ivry, Jewish Daily Forward

    "It is hard to do justice to the intelligence and devotion that have gone into the preparation of these volumes… the detailed introductions and footnotes make a fine gloss to these astonishing and moving letters."
    -John Montague, The Literary Review

    "This is an important work of impeccable scholarship directed not only at Beckett academics but informed fans seeking the man behind Godot. This volume is a landmark in our quest to understand Beckett’s great esoteric works and has definitely been worth the wait."
    -Brian Odom, The Washington Independent Review of Books

    "riveting … full of colorful and zany eloquence ... What these letters celebrate, and do justice to, is the sound of a unique voice, telling the truth."
    -Roy Foster, New Republic

    "The publication of The Letters of Samuel Beckett, however incomplete, is, nonetheless, one of the most important epistolary editing projects of our time."
    -Enoch Brater, Modern Drama

    "The editorial practices are superb."

    See more reviews

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    Product details

    • Date Published: September 2011
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521867948
    • length: 886 pages
    • dimensions: 223 x 149 x 56 mm
    • weight: 1.3kg
    • contains: 20 b/w illus.
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    General introduction
    French translator's preface George Craig
    Editorial procedures
    Introduction to Volume 2 Dan Gunn
    Letters, 1941–1956

  • Author

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


    George Craig, University of Sussex
    Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Founding Editor, was authorized by Samuel Beckett to edit his correspondence in 1985.

    Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Emory University, Atlanta
    Dan Gunn, Editor, is Professor of Comparative Literature and English at The American University of Paris.

    Dan Gunn, The American University of Paris, France
    Lois More Overbeck, Managing Editor, is a Research Associate of the Laney Graduate School, Emory University.

    Lois More Overbeck, Emory University, Atlanta

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