Samuel Beckett Takes a Road Trip With His Mother

“In the summer of 1935, Samuel Beckett and his widowed mother, May, took a three-week road trip together in England. It is not clear whose idea it was, but Beckett, who was living in an almost destitute state in London at the time, seems to have gone along with the plan willingly enough. With his mother paying all expenses, he hired a small car and took her on what he called a “lightning tour” of English market towns and cathedral cities including St Albans, Canterbury, Winchester, Bath and Wells. They covered hundreds of miles, driving as far as the West Country and spending almost three weeks together.

Beckett described their trip together in letters to his friend Tom MacGreevy, later the director of the National Gallery of Ireland. After they reached the West Country, he told MacGreevy, their hired car struggled with the “demented gradients, 1 in 4 a commonplace” around hilly Porlock and Lynton. They decided not to spend a night in the seaside resort of Minehead: one look at it was enough. Instead, they spent almost a week in a comfortable hotel in Lynmouth, close to where Shelley was said to have stayed. From there they went on day excursions around the coast and toured the literary locations of North Devon, including the Exmoor of Lorna Doone and the bathing place of Westward Ho! on Bideford Bay, named after Charles Kingsley’s famous book.”

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New Exhibition: Beckett in Germany

‘When it’s coming up to Xmas I get the German fever’, Samuel Beckett wrote to his friend Thomas MacGreevy in 1932. This exhibition examines Beckett’s life-long engagement with German art, literature and language. It sheds light on Beckett’s extensive reading of classical writers such as Goethe, Schiller and Hölderlin, his engagement with German visual artists from Albrecht Dürer to the Expressionists, as well as his observations on the reality within National Socialist Germany. The exhibition also tells the story of his famous productions at the Schiller Theatre in Berlin from the 1960s to the 1980s – in particular of Waiting for Godot (1975) – and his works for television at the Süddeutscher Rundfunk in Stuttgart. Furthermore, the exhibition documents Beckett’s close relationship with his publisher Siegfried Unseld, his German translator Elmar Tophoven and the important role played by the Suhrkamp Verlag in introducing the writer’s work to German readers.

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