Skip to content

Reflections of a working writer and reader



They Simply Could Not

Nicholas Lezard, reviewing the first volume of Samuel Beckett’s letters in The Guardian:

It was, he said, his long experience of failure that made him as a writer; here we see him under its first full cold blast. A friend of the Joyces, Nuala Costello, tells him that “you haven’t a good word to say about anyone but the failures”; he notes that this is “quite the nicest thing anyone had said to me for a long time”. Trying to sell his first novel, Dream of Fair to Middling Women, he writes: “The novel doesn’t go. Shatton and Windup thought it was wonderful but they couldn’t they simply could not. The Hogarth Private Lunatic Asylum rejected it the way Punch would. Cape was écouré in pipe and cardigan and his Aberdeen terrier agreed with him. Grayson has lost it or cleaned himself with it. Kick his balls off, they are all over 66 Curzon St, W.1.”

One Response to “They Simply Could Not”

  1. Dick says:

    I like the sideswipe at Bloomsbury. What would they have made of SB?

    jb says: Hi Dick. Might be something to read, this one. But I thought that whole extract was delicious.