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Beckett Remembering/Remembering Beckett: A Centenary Celebrationby James Knowlson and Elizabeth Knowlson
"If this seems promising, the reality is somewhat disappointing. The problem is not that such memories are without interest, but that anything of interest has already been so well covered in Damned to Fame, a work of formidable scope and exhaustive scholarship. Knowlson's suggestion that presenting the interviews in their viva voce form 'adds new elements to what is already known' is not convincing; and trawling through the first half, 'Beckett Remembering,' the sense is that of recycled material padded out with reminiscences..." Justin Beplate, The Times Literary Supplement (read the entire Times Literary Supplement review)
Synopses & Reviews
This revealing collection offers fresh insights into one of the 20th century's greatest, most enigmatic writers.
In life, Samuel Beckett was one of the most private of men, preferring to let his writing speak for itself. In this commemorative volume, through interviews with his official biographer, he speaks of his youth, his home and family, his schools in Dublin, his life in Paris as an exchange student from Trinity College Dublin, his early writings, and his war years in the south of France. The second part of the work includes dozens of pieces written about him by those who knew him best, worked with him most closely, or admired him for his enduring influence, among them Edward Albee, Paul Auster, J. M. Coetzee, Hume Cronyn, Eugène Ionesco, Anthony Minghella, Tom Stoppard, and Jessica Tandy. Of special interest are remembrances of Beckett as a young man from fellow students at Trinity College Dublin and from L'Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris.
For those familiar with Beckett's work, this will enhance their knowledge; for those who are not, it is a revealing introduction to the Nobel Prize?winning author's life and work.
"Samuel Beckett (1906-1989) wrote that we are all 'born astride the grave.' Now on the centenary of the absurd dramatist and writer's birth, noted Beckett scholar and biographer Knowlson and his wife offer a valuable literary memorial. As the title suggests, the book is a collection of the notoriously private Beckett's reminiscences about his life and remembrances of Beckett from scholars and those who knew, worked or were impacted by him. The abundant glimpses Beckett provides are remarkable for their openness as much as their scarcity: these pieces, drawn from Knowlson's interview transcripts, haven't appeared elsewhere and cover topics like his friendship with painter Jack Yeats ('I think he thought he was the only painter.') and his doomed teaching career ('I didn't intend to be a writer. That only came later when I found out that I was no good at all at teaching.'). Childhood friends, family members and a who's who of literary and theater heavyweights-Edward Albee, J.M. Coetzee, Jessica Tandy, Martin Esslin, Ruby Cohn, Billie Whitelaw-contribute memories, stories or essays. Organized chronologically, the anthology includes a chapter on Beckett as a theater director and an appendix containing notes on Beckett's lectures on Racine during his stint at Trinity College. Formatted like George Plimpton's biographies of Edie Sedgwick and Truman Capote or Legs McNeil's oral histories of punk and porn, Knowlson's Beckett tribute straddles the absurdist's immortality." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Although not an essential purchase, this useful work still deserves a place in most literature collections." Library Journal
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