The Irish Nobel laureate died on 22 December 1989. What follows is an excerpt from Mel Gussow’s obituary, published in The New York Times, 27 December 1989:

Samuel Beckett, a towering figure in drama and fiction who altered the course of contemporary theater, died in Paris on Friday at the age of 83. He died of respiratory problems in a Paris hospital, where he had been moved from a nursing home. He was buried yesterday at the Montparnasse cemetery after a private funeral.

Explaining the secrecy surrounding his illness, hospitalization and death, Irene Lindon, representing the author’s Paris publisher, Editions de Minuit, said it was ”what he would have wanted.”

[…]

About a year ago, after falling in his apartment, he moved to a nearby nursing home, where he continued to receive visitors. He lived his last year in a small, barely furnished room. He had a television set on which he continued to watch major tennis and soccer events, and several books, including his boyhood copy of Dante’s ”Divine Comedy” in Italian.

On July 17 this year, his wife died and he left the nursing home to attend the funeral. Late this year, after he became ill, he was moved to a hospital. There are no immediate survivors.

His last work to be printed in his lifetime was ”Stirrings Still,” a short prose piece published in a limited edition on his 83d birthday. In it, a character who resembles the author sits alone in a cell-like room until he sees his double appear – and then disappear. Accompanied by ”time and grief and self so-called,” he finds himself ”stirring still” to the end.

Read Mel Gussow’s unabridged obituary on The New York Times website.

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Posted by:Rhys Tranter

Rhys Tranter is a writer and photographer based in Cardiff, Wales, UK. His work has appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, The Spectator, and a number of books and periodicals. He holds a BA, MA, and a PhD in English Literature. His website RhysTranter.com is a personal journal offering commentary and analysis across literature, film, music, and the arts.

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