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Samuel Beckett

Samuel Beckett
(by John Calder)

Samuel Beckett has been dead for nearly eleven years and those who knew him well are diminishing in number. At a time when the interest in his work is leading to Beckett Festivals throughout the world, it is appropriate to remember the man who more than any other echoed in his work the anxieties of our age and bought comfort to those who cannot make sense of a society only interested in profit and in a life in its short span offers so little.

I first met Sam in the fifties when 'Waiting for Godot' was running in London, and although various complications, including letters sent to the wrong address, preluded me from publishing the plays that followed, I did, not long after first meeting him, manage to acquire his novels, poetry and most of his other writings for my list, and I continued to publish most of his new work up to the end of his life.

We would meet in Paris, frequently at first in the fifties, then often in London when he came to supervise productions of his plays, usually staying with me. We would often talk all night, about ideas, ways to get over the difficulties of life, about writers we both admired - he had known James Joyce well and could quote him at length, but his extraordinary memory enabled him also to quote the pages of Dante in Italian and others he had studied when at university in Dublin or had read later. He would sit at my piano and play from memory music he had learned before the war. He had spent time in Germany in the thirties and went there again in the seventies and, he always had a deep love of early romantic German culture in the writings of Goethe and the music of Schubert and Beethoven.

All those long nights in Montparnasse that started with chess, billiards and ping-pong in cafés, and ended with breakfast at dawn are only memories now, but his deep and unpretentious wisdom, and the quickness of his mind, still live with me. He hated to talk about his work, and also about his war time activities, when he was a courier for the French resistance, nearly caught on several occasions by the Gestapo, and later in the war he would go out with the Marquis, sabotaging the German army in the Vaucluse mountains. He was personally decorated by de Gaulle, but would never mention it. In his last years he had to go into a nursing home in Paris and I would visit him there, talking and drinking whisky. Beckett writes so well for the spoken voice, actors love to read his work, quite a part from the plays, and I have often sat with them while he demonstrated how things should be done. He was a gentle man, but knew what he wanted and an undisciplined actor would do better to leave his work alone. Sam gradually gathered about himself a group of actors and actresses who understood what was required. I tried frequently to get Sam to come to Scotland when I had a house in Ochil Hills, but he was a shy man, nervous of new places and although I think he wanted to he never did.

He loved my dog and would have enjoyed walking her as much as he did feeding her under the table when I wasn’t looking.

List of Books:

Beckett Shorts: All Strange Away
A novella written in 1963. The narrator, like a dying elephant, looks for a place to expire and finds one, small, narrow, minutely described - £3.00/$5.00
Beckett Shorts: As The Story Was Told
A collection of short texts: As the Story Was Told, Heard In the Dark 1, Heard in the Dark 2, One Evening, Neither - £2.00/$4.00
Beckett Shorts: Boxed set of all 12 volumes
A series of twelve short volumes brought out ten years after the great writer's death. - £30.00/$50.00
Beckett Shorts: Dramatic Works and Dialogues
A collection of three short works, the incompleted early Human Wishes, written in 1937 - £2.00/$4.00
Beckett Shorts: First Love
One of Beckett's earliest post-war novellas - £3.00/$5.00
Beckett Shorts: For to End Yet Again and Other Fizzles
These short prose works are in many ways similar to the Texts For Nothing, but unlike the earlier outbursts the tone is more muted and resigned - £3.00/$5.00
Beckett Shorts: Selected Poems
A collection of many of Beckett's best-known and best loved poems - £2.00/$4.00
Beckett Shorts: Six Residua
Potent shorter work from different periods of the author's post- war - £3.00/$5.00
Beckett Shorts: Stirrings Still
A beautiful text in which the narrator finds the ability, although unable to move from his room, to do so, and to go out and return - £2.00/$4.00
Beckett Shorts: Texts For Nothing
Thirteen concentrated outbursts, written at about the time of Waiting for Godot - £3.00/$5.00
Beckett Shorts: The Old Tune
From La Manivelle by the author's friend Robert Pinget - £2.00/$4.00
Beckett Shorts: Three Novellas
Three novellas: The Expelled, The Calmative and The End - £3.00/$5.00
Beckett Shorts: Worstward Ho
The most condensed of all Beckett's prose works - £3.00/$5.00
Collected Poems
The much loved work in verse of the great writer who was a poet in everything he wrote. - £9.99/$17.95
Beckett's most autobiographical novel, 'Company' is considered the crown of Beckett's Late Period. (Paperback) - £5.99/$11.95
Dream of Fair to Middling Women
Samuel Beckett's first novel written in Paris in 1932 (hard cover). - £14.99
Dream of Fair to Middling Women
Samuel Beckett's first novel written in Paris in 1932. (Paperback). - £9.99/$15.95
How It Is
Middle period Beckett that shows greater stylistic innovation and is written in short gasps - like a drowning swimmer. (Paperback) - £6.99/$12.95
Ill Seen Ill Said
A parable, a fable, a semi-serious work of theological speculation, 'Ill Seen Ill Said' is a poetic work of great beauty. (Paperback) - £3.99/$8.95.
Mercier and Camier
Mercier and Camier underlines Beckett's ability to wring comedy from situations that would otherwise be seen as tragic. Enourmously enjoyable, this is probably Beckett's lightest novel. (Paperback) - £6.99/$11.95.
More Pricks Than Kicks
The adventures of a Dublin student in the twenties. First published in 1934, - £8.99/$11.95
Beckett's first novel and third work of fiction, 'Murphy' marked the beginning of a new form of literary expression and remains one of his most popular novels. (paperback) - £6.99/$12.95
Proust and Three Dialogues with George Duthuit
Beckett's much admired early book on Proust together with his dialogues on the nature of art. (Paperback) - £6.99/$11.95
'Molloy', 'Molone Dies' and 'The Unnamable' - three novels that are considered Beckett's most central work and are the most popular (hardcover). - £21.00/$30.00
'Molloy', 'Malone Dies' and 'The Unnamable' - three novels that are considered Beckett's most central work and are the most popular (paperback). - £11.99/$18.95
The novel that marked the beginning of Beckett's post-war literary career and has established itself as one of the most quoted and best-loved of his fiction. (Paperback) - £9.99/$14.95
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