“This issue covers performances in the US (among them the Happy Days Renaissance Theaterworks production in downtown Milwaukee and Richard Sullivan Jr.’s Waiting for Godot in Providence, RI), Australia (Mark Byron reviews the Red Line Productions’ staging of Krapp’s Last Tape at the Old Fitz Theatre in Sydney), London, Paris and Dublin. We have rich resources to rethink the Beckett oeuvre in the context of contemporary music, as the Farmleigh Music and Arts festival and the What is the Word… concert organised by Benjamin Dwyer at the Centre Culturel Irlandaise in Paris show. A panel on the Battle of Ideas Festival at the Barbican, the role played by Beckett in shaping the “Fail Better” series of the Poet in the City at Wilton’s Music Hall in London, and an account of number of symposia keep demonstrating Beckett’s continuous cultural importance…”
— Extract from the joint President’s Address from Daniela Caselli (sitting president) and Laura Salisbury (president elect).
Corresponding with Samuel Beckett is an edition of critical essays that forms a major intervention in key debates on the use of Nobel prize winning author Samuel Beckett’s correspondence in literary and cultural studies and in the digital humanities.
What does it mean to correspond with Beckett? How does Beckett’s correspondence give us insight into the work? In what ways are critical reading and writing a form of correspondence with an author? The publication of the fourth and final volume of The Letters of Samuel Beckett marks an appropriate moment to take stock of the role of autobiography in research, and the importance of the epistolary in literary studies. Corresponding with Samuel Beckett examines issues around the development of the grey archive, the use of digital resources, translation, visual metadata, and the role of corollary correspondence. Given Beckett’s hesitation to render the personal public, the book examines what is at stake in negotiating issues of privacy, permissions, and copyright. The book generates new thinking on the letter as artefact, and the textual and stylistic aspects of the epistolary. It explores the legacy of a correspondence project and how the research that underpins it can be deployed for further research. Using literary correspondence and related materials raises older literary questions on authorial intention and reading methodologies that continue to inform literary analysis. In the age of twitter, snapchat and whatsapp correspondence is primarily digital: the edition will question the longevity of contemporary digital correspondence, and explore strategies for future engagement with the epistolary in literary research.
Announcement: “In response to the current pandemic, we have postponed our annual conference (Bordeaux) to 2021. Details of future events will be circulated once we have a clearer idea of how things will develop in the next few months.”
The Samuel Beckett Society and Bordeaux Montaigne University are pleased to announce that we will offer 4 ‘Ruby Cohn Travel Bursaries’ of the value of £300 each to Early Career Researchers wishing to attend the annual conference in Bordeaux in May 2020.
If you join the Samuel Beckett Society with a one-year subscription any time between now and April 2020, you will receive up to three months of free access to the Society’s exclusive content. This offer ends in April 2020.
The titles of Samuel Beckett’s two early novels show a taste for salaciousness and provocation that did not disappear in later years, and led to his being expelled from the family home and censored in Ireland. If obscenity became more subdued afterwards, and if sexuality tended to disappear from an increasingly abstract universe, sex, of an often crude kind, is a recurring feature of the Beckettian text. As for sexuality, in its normative version, it is systematically thwarted by the powerlessness and horror of procreation displayed by Beckett’s male characters, whose sexual behaviour “deviates” from the heterosexual paradigm (anality, onanism).
Sex questions the relationship to the other, as a sexual partner and in its gendered dimension. But this relationship is not a straightforward one in Beckett. Before the trilogy, female characters are essentially derealized (either through idealization or belittling, see Mercier, Bryden, Ben-Zvi, McMullan), while male characters are devirilized (Bjørnerud). Moreover, the question of connection and autonomy, central to the fiction and even more to the theatre, is experienced in sexual encounters with particular acuteness. The promise of a union, or even of fusion with the other, stumbles against an impossibility that feeds the melancholy of many characters. Considering that the sexual act is both material and spiritual, it can be traumatic but is also a source of humour and comedy.
We announce the upcoming Samuel Beckett Society conference, to be held in Spain from 9-11 May 2019; Catherine Fahy contributes an essay/review of György Kurtág’s operatic adaptation of Endgame; James Brophy reviews the recent Beckett and the Nonhuman/Beckett et le Non-Humain conference in Brussels, while Eleanor Green reflects on the most recent Samuel Beckett Society annual conference. José Francisco Fernández reviews Anthony Cordingly’s recent volume, Samuel Beckett’s How It Is: Philosophy in Translation; Amanda Dennis takes a look at Jean-Michel Rabaté’s Think Pig!; and Michael Coffey assesses James McNaughton’s recent monograph, Samuel Beckett and the Politics of Aftermath.
There are tributes to George Craig, who died in March of this year. His colleagues on the editorial team of The Letters of Samuel Beckett reflect on the loss of a dear friend and colleague, while Gabriel Josipovici shares the eulogy that was delivered at Craig’s funeral service.
Finally, this issue shares a rich number of theatre reviews from across the world.
An announcement from the University of Reading: “We are delighted to announce the Mary Bryden Studentship in Beckett Studies at the University of Reading. Supported by an endowment from our colleague Professor Mary Bryden’s Estate, the Ph. D. studentship offers an annual subsistence stipend of £10,000 for 3 years full-time study, or part-time equivalent. The scholarship will also cover full UK/EU tutorial fees, or will make a contribution to overseas fees.”
The Samuel Beckett Society seeks panelists engaging with these three different aspects of the question of ‘being human’ in Beckett: 1) The politics of humanism; 2) The human and technology; and 3) The human and the non-human.