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.
Authorised Beckett biographer James Knowlson shares a previously unpublished interview with John Beckett; Feargal Whelan talks to writer, director and translator Marek Kedzierski about the beckett@111 festival; and much, much more.
“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.”
“This book draws on the theatrical thinking of Samuel Beckett and the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze to propose a method for research undertaken at the borders of performance and philosophy. Exploring how Beckett fabricates encounters with the impossible and the unthinkable in performance, it asks how philosophy can approach what cannot be thought while honouring and preserving its alterity. Employing its method, it creates a series of encounters between aspects of Beckett’s theatrical practice and a range of concepts drawn from Deleuze’s philosophy. Through the force of these encounters, a new range of concepts is invented. These provide novel ways of thinking affect and the body in performance; the possibility of theatrical automation; and the importance of failure and invention in our attempts to respond to performance encounters. Further, this book includes new approaches to Beckett’s later theatrical work and provides an overview of Deleuze’s conception of philosophical practice as an ongoing struggle to think with immanence.”
— Palgrave Macmillan
“[James McNaughton’s] Samuel Beckett and the Politics of Aftermath explores Beckett’s literary responses to the political maelstroms of his formative and middle years: the Irish civil war and the crisis of commitment in 1930s Europe, the rise of fascism and the atrocities of World War II. Archive yields a Beckett who monitored propaganda in speeches and newspapers, and whose creative work engages with specific political strategies, rhetoric, and events. Finally, Beckett’s political aesthetic sharpens into focus.
Deep within form, Beckett models ominous historical developments as surely as he satirizes artistic and philosophical interpretations that overlook them. He burdens aesthetic production with guilt: imagination and language, theater and narrative, all parallel political techniques. Beckett comically embodies conservative religious and political doctrines; he plays Irish colonial history against contemporary European horrors; he examines aesthetic complicity in effecting atrocity and covering it up. This book offers insightful, original, and vivid readings of Beckett’s work up to Three Novels and Endgame.”
“Beckett’s Intuitive Spectator: Me to Play investigates how audience discomfort, instead of a side effect of a Beckett pedagogy, is a key spectatorial experience which arises from an everyman intuition of loss. With reference to selected works by Henri Bergson, Immanuel Kant and Gilles Deleuze, this book charts the processes of how an audience member’s habitual way of understanding could be frustrated by Beckett’s film, radio, stage and television plays. Michelle Chiang explores the ways in which Beckett exploited these mediums to reconstitute an audience response derived from intuition.” — Palgrave Macmillan
Conor Carville discusses the role of the Reading archives in the research of his most recent book, Samuel Beckett and the Visual Arts: “The magnificent collection of Samuel Beckett’s manuscripts, notebooks, letters and other material held here at Reading was fundamental to the research for my new book Samuel Beckett and the Visual Arts, which has just come out from Cambridge University Press.”
Authorised Beckett biographer James Knowlson shares previously unpublished insights into Beckett’s most famous play; Michael Coffey reviews two distinctive Beckett productions in New York City; Gabriel Quigley sits down with the artistic director of Company SJ, Sarah Jane Scaife; Rhys Tranter asks Beckett scholar Paul Stewart about his decision to appear in a production of Krapp’s Last Tape; and much more
“Samuel Beckett’s How It Is: Philosophy in Translation maps out the novel’s complex network of intertexts, sources and echoes, interprets its highly experimental writing and explains the work’s great significance for twentieth-century literature. It offers a clear pathway into this remarkable bilingual novel, identifying Beckett’s use of previously unknown sources in the history of Western philosophy, from the ancient and modern periods, and challenging critical orthodoxies. Through careful archival scholarship and attention to the dynamics of self-translation, the book traces Beckett’s transformation of his narrator’s ‘ancient voice’, his intellectual heritage, into a mode of aesthetic representation that offers the means to think beyond intractable paradoxes of philosophy. This shift in the work’s relation to tradition marks a hiatus in literary modernism, a watershed moment whose deep and enduring significance may now be appreciated.”