Writer and academic John Samuel Bolin on Samuel Beckett

“I first encountered Beckett through two novels that are not widely read, even in the university: Watt and Molloy. Simply put, these books forced me to reconsider what serious writing might look like. (I was then completing an M.Phil. thesis on T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets and wisdom literature.) Beckett and the Modern Novel was written out of a desire to come to terms, if I can put it that way, with what was happening in those books.

You know that Beckett reluctantly gave a series of lectures in 1930 to students at Trinity College, Dublin, and that two main sets of notes taken by Beckett’s students survive. Re-reading Beckett’s early fiction, guided by cues drawn from the lecture notes, I demonstrated that his take on what he called ‘The Modern Novel’ was largely cribbed from a pre-existing body of theory, French in origin, and in particular from work by an unacknowledged influence: André Gide. Further, Beckett then began to deploy and extend such theory in his early novels, which generated the fragmented form and ‘tripartite’ characters that have often puzzled commentators. From the beginning then, Beckett’s thought should be read alongside a body of Continental experimental writing of the pre-war period; and it was from this context that he also drew key paradoxes culminating in his mature theory of an art of ‘failure’. It seemed to me that Gide would be the last major influence on Beckett’s novelistic theory and practice that we would likely discover (so far I have been proven correct).

The monograph also allowed me to spend time with some of Beckett’s fictional interlocutors and inheritors, particularly in the French context: Sade, Bataille, Robbe-Grillet, and others.” — John Samuel Bolin

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On Morton Feldman and his work with Beckett how is Neither for you distinct from Words and Music in terms of tone and mood?

Liam Browne: Neither was written for a solo high soprano voice and the text is stretched across a one hour-long period making the text indistinct whereas every word in Words and Music is accounted for and is spoken rather than sung.  Different genres of course, one is prose/short story and the other a play.  Beckett didn’t approve of one genre being transferred into another which is why in our rendering of neither on bespoke billboards we are treating the billboards as the page.”

Read the full Q&A with Liam Browne over at marlbank

Brian O’Doherty and Samuel Beckett

In an interview published by Frieze, Judith Wilkinson talks to the acclaimed polymath, artist, and author who is celebrating his 90th year. Wilkinson’s forthcoming book, Samuel Beckett: Contemporary Artist (Bloomsbury 2018) examines Beckett as a practicing artist working in sound, moving-image, performance and installation art. The interview touches upon the correspondence and influence between O’Doherty and Beckett.

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The Book Show (RTÉ Radio 1): Eimear McBride on Samuel Beckett

“On this special episode of The Book Show Eimear McBride (A Girl is a Half Formed Thing, The Lesser Bohemians) visits The Samuel Beckett Collection in University of Reading. There she gains a rare glimpse at the original manuscripts of Beckett’s first publish novel Murphy and his last published prose work Stirrings Still.

With contributions by Head of Archive Services Guy Baxter, Director of the Beckett International Foundation Dr Mark Nixon, Chair of the Samuel Beckett Research Centre Stephen Matthews, Beckett’s biographer and friend James Knowlson, actors Lisa Dawn and Olwen Fouéré.”

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BBC Radio 4: Jess Thom on Beckett’s Not I

“Jess Thom is a founding member of Touretteshero, a theatre company that celebrates the inherent creativity and humour in Tourette’s. She is taking on Samuel Beckett’s Not I, a rapidly delivered monologue spokenby a character called Mouth. Jess explains why the text captures her own experience of living with Tourette’s and her mission to make theatre more accessible.”

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From Page to Stage: Beckett and Adaptation with Lisa Dwan

On Wednesday 21 March, the Beckett community at the University of Reading welcomes acclaimed actor Lisa Dwan to discuss the process of adapting Beckett’s prose for the theatre. In her 2016 performance of No’s Knife at London’s Old Vic theatre, Dwan confronted both the challenges and the possibilities of adapting Beckett’s prose for performance by a female actor in her staging of excerpts from Texts for Nothing. This discussion of Beckett and adaptation with Lisa Dwan will be followed by a Q&A session. 

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