“A country road at dusk. A tall, gaunt man and a boy walk side by side. The man is Samuel Beckett, future Nobel laureate. The boy is Aimé Bonnelly, the 11-year-old son of French peasants. His father Albert is in a German prison camp. His mother Berthe has set up the vineyard that she and her husband talked about before the war.

The writer is frail from hunger and the trials of his and Suzanne’s flight from the Gestapo. Berthe Bonnelly has hired him to help with the vineyard. He shares Berthe and Aimé’s humble meal at noon, and for his labour receives a few francs and a chicken every Sunday.

At the beginning of the second act of Waiting for Godot, Vladimir and Estragon discuss whether or not they were in Roussillon, the beautiful hilltop village perched above pine trees and red sandstone cliffs in the Vaucluse region of Provence.

Estragon transforms “Vaucluse” into “Merdecluse”, and says he’s spent his whole life in it. But they did the wine harvest there together! Vladimir reminds him, “chez someone called Bonnelly, in Roussillon”.

The village of 1,300 will commemorate Beckett’s 1942-1944 stay in Roussillon with its 19th annual Beckett Festival from July 30th until August 1st. The actor Jacques Frantz will read from The Unnamable, the third book in Beckett’s trilogy. The festival will close with a performance by Denis Lavant of Worstword Ho.”

— Lara Marlowe, ‘A hard and clandestine life’ – An Irishwoman’s Diary on Samuel Beckett in Roussillon‘, The Irish Times

Posted by:Rhys Tranter

Rhys Tranter is a writer based in Cardiff, Wales, UK. He is the author of Beckett's Late Stage (2018), and 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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