The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Volume III: 1957–1965 by George Craig, Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Dan Gunn and Lois More Overbeck (edd) - review by Justin Beplate

Justin Beplate

‘Hammer hammer adamantine words’

The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Volume III: 1957–1965


Cambridge University Press 771pp £30 order from our bookshop

The second volume of Samuel Beckett’s Letters charted his emergence as a major French-language writer in the postwar era and the financial rewards that came with successful productions of Godot both in Europe and across the Atlantic. Volume III, covering the years 1957 to 1965, sees a tentative return to English – or a queer form of it – in the composition of such works as All That Fall, a radio play written at the invitation of the BBC, and his one-act play Krapp’s Last Tape (described in a letter to Donald McWhinnie as ‘a sentimental affair in my best original English manner’). Beckett’s range of correspondents grows wider in this volume, in step with his increasingly public profile; yet, if the selection of letters gathered here is representative, the focus in this period shifts decisively towards the Anglophone world.

An assiduous correspondent by nature, Beckett struggles to balance the demands on his time created by a growing mountain of letters with the imperative to write, however arduous the work and unsatisfactory the result. One measure of the shift in Beckett’s circumstances is offered by the editors’ estimate that only

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

RLF - March

A Mirror - Westend

Follow Literary Review on Twitter