The Philosophy of Samuel Beckett by John Calder; How it was: A Memoir of Samuel Beckett by Anne Atik - review by Peter Washington

Peter Washington

He was Moral, but Was He Great?

The Philosophy of Samuel Beckett


Calder Publications 152pp £19.99 order from our bookshop

How it was: A Memoir of Samuel Beckett


Faber&Faber 129pp £30 order from our bookshop

John Calder is a remarkable man. For more than half a century, and at great cost to himself, he has championed the work of experimental writers, usually against the current of popular taste. That alone makes him a giant among the pygmies who dominate today's publishing world by following or trying to anticipate literary fashion. Even more remarkable is the fact that Calder is still at work long after most publishing moguls of his age have retired on their share options.

To judge from his new book, Calder regrets none of the troubles his dedication has brought upon him. The fact that several of his literary swans have turned out to be geese only underlines his stoicism. He knows that the essence of fruitful publishing is a willingness to take chances, driven by passionate commitment. Although some of those chances have con1.e to grief, he is still in love with literature and still excited by the honour of publishing writing he admires. And, despite the geese, he has an impressive backlist. What other small publisher in his time would have kept Borges, Artaud, Celine, Duras, Queneau , Roussel and Sarraute in print, am among others? As these names suggest, Calder has

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