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Reflections of a working writer and reader



Reading Beckett

And finally, if readers only had time to read one book by Samuel Beckett, what would you suggest and why?

At the moment I seem to be going through a phase of interest in late works, works produced after those on which a reputation will rest. Whoever’s – Beckett’s or anyone’s. I like the kinds of sudden, unexpected veering turns in late works that nevertheless occur within a highly coherent system. Is that too abstract? Like in some of Bob Dylan’s witty late songs, where a self-consciously sentimental or traditional-style chorus suddenly anchors an otherwise disjointed narrative, or perhaps in the flashes of a certain shade of red in Lucian Freud. So along these lines maybe Company, where misty recollected sometimes semi-autobiographical scenes appear and dissipate again. Just that moment of the narrator suddenly standing still in the middle of a field, which I write about a bit in my book, is masterful. Beckett can really break your heart with just a description of someone standing, or of moving their hand up to their head as they sit in a chair in the short piece ‘Still’.

2 Responses to “Reading Beckett”

  1. Jim Murdoch says:

    The problem here is the word ‘book’. If by ‘book’ you mean ‘volume’ then I’d go with the trilogy since they come normally as one volume and that’s good value for money. His shorter works have appeared in various collections, I have First Love in a single volume and collected along with The Expelled, The Calmative and The End. That’s a good volume. I think I might lump for Fizzles though. Beckett requires concentration and the nice thing about these is the fact you can devote the time each one needs and then think on it. With the longer works like Company and How It Is I feel since there are no chapter breaks that to do the work justice you need to read it from cover to cover in a single sitting (which I have done with both) and that’s no mean task.

    Just tried to translate a tiny poem by Beckett for a blog. Impossible. I gave it my best shot but SO HARD.

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