Happy birthday, Samuel Beckett!

“Samuel Beckett came into the world on 13 April 1906. Not only was it an ill-fated Friday the 13th, it was also a Good Friday, the Friday before Easter Sunday, on which the Christian Church commemorates the Crucifixion of Jesus at Calvary. To the superstitiously-minded, any life begun under such ill-fated stars would seem destined for disaster. Throughout his career, Beckett kept thinking back to the unfortunate circumstances of his nativity and the future it seemed to hold. When Judith Schmidt – assistant to American publisher Barney Rosset of Grove Press, New York – wished him many happy returns on 13 April 1962, joking about it being a Friday, he wrote: ‘Very touched by your card and remembrance. I was born on Good Friday 13th, so can’t share your high opinion of the conjunction. And yet when I have the courage to take a quick look back I can see that the miracles haven’t been wanting and that but for them it’s in the better place I’d be for this long time’.” — Dirk Van Hulle and Pim Verhulst

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Alvin Epstein, Theatre Director and Actor Associated With Beckett’s Work, Dies at 93

“Alvin Epstein, a classical stage actor and director who appeared in the Broadway premiere of “Waiting for Godot” and went on to become widely known for his mastery of that and other plays by Samuel Beckett, died on Monday in Newton, Mass. He was 93.

[…]

Mr. Epstein’s acting career ranged across the Greeks, Shakespeare, Pirandello and the occasional musical, but Beckett was always at its core. He played the slave Lucky, who delivers a 700-word monologue, in the first Broadway staging of “Godot,” Beckett’s groundbreaking existentialist work.

Although Mr. Epstein never met Beckett — he did talk to him by telephone — he came to know that playwright through his words. “Alvin knows the material so well, it gives him the confidence — the courage, really — to do what’s right,” Charlotte Moore, who directed “Endgame” at the Irish Rep, said in an interview with The Times in 2005. “He doesn’t hit anything with a hammer, because he doesn’t have to.”

— The New York Times

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New York, NY – 5 December 2018 – The Modern Language Association of America has announced the winner of the eleventh Modern Language Association Prize for a Bibliography, Archive, or Digital Project. The prize will be presented to Mark Nixon, of the University of Reading; Dirk Van Hulle, of the University of Antwerp; Pim Verhulst, of the University of Antwerp; E. Magessa O’Reilly, of Memorial University; and Vincent Neyt, of the University of Antwerp, for the Beckett Digital Manuscript Project (www.beckettarchive.org).”

MLA Publication Awards

Call for Nominations: The Samuel Beckett Society

The Samuel Beckett Society is soliciting nominations for two new Executive Board Members.
Any member in good standing will be able to provide ONE nomination: the SIX most popular nominations will go out for ballot two weeks ca. after the nominations.

Two members will be elected to start office in January 2019. The member with the majority of votes will be Vice-President for two years and then succeed to the Presidency. Duties of the newly elected Executive Board Members will entail: communicating with members and managing the membership list, collaborating with other members of the Executive Board, contributing to the organization of the annual conference and the MLA sessions, and collaborating with editor of the Beckett Circle.

Board members serve a period of a four year term. All members are eligible to stand election.

To nominate yourself or someone else, please send along the name and email of the nominee.

Nominations should be sent by 15 December 2018. Elections will be held shortly thereafter.

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Beckett Research Seminar 2018

The Beckett International Foundation at the University of Reading is pleased to announce that the next Beckett Research Seminar will take place on Saturday, 24 November 2018.
The event will be held in the Conference Room of Special Collections, University of Reading, the Museum of English Rural Life, Redlands Road, Reading.

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Beckett.Mexico: Book Donations to Support A New Initiative

“The Samuel Beckett Society conference which is taking place in Mexico City next week is providing the inspiration for various initiatives to promote the study and appreciation of the author in the region. Among the most important, and potentially most influential, is the creation of a non-profit organization to coordinate all things Beckett within the country. Conference organizer Luz María Sánchez Cardona explains the idea behind the initiative: ‘It will be called Beckett.Mexico and it will draw in information on all performances, seminars and activities throughout the country.’ She explained that the organization would not be based in any one institution but would operate as a general hub for all those interested in maintaining a connection with the author, both inside and outside the academy. While the specific details of the organization are to be announced during the conference and formalized in its wake, Luz was keen to advertise a particular component of the project and make a direct appeal to attendees next week. ‘One big problem we have is access to books.’ For many reasons, academic texts relating to Beckett’s work are thin on the ground. ‘Whenever I’m abroad in Great Britain, or Denmark say, I always try and bring new texts back with me’, she adds. ‘We want to build a resource of as many books as possible which can allow access to all of those attached to the non-profit organization.’ With this in mind she is appealing to conference attendees to bring a book and donate to the project. Initially, books which would be donated would be housed on permanent loan to a dedicated area in the library of the Universidad Autónoma Metripolitana, Lerma until a suitable space is acquired for the Beckett.Mexico project.

The aims of the Samuel Beckett Society include the promotion of scholarship and understanding of the works as widely as possible. A project which helps scholars in any way, particularly in new places of interest, must be a good thing. We urge all those attending to think about supporting the cause by finding room in their luggage for an extra book if at all possible.”

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“As with many works of literature, it is easier to say what Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot is not about, or what it is almost about, than to state its theme definitively or be certain, or even fully uncertain, about its meaning or indeed its origin in Beckett’s imagination. Most ways of describing it require terms that are in conflict with each other. Thus the play is concerned with exhaustion, with language and communication in a state of decay, but it is also nourished by strange energy, by wit, by tension, by moments of pure verbal excitement.”

Colm Tóibín