The first volume of Beckett's letters has been chosen by several TLS contributors as one of their Books of the Year. Seamus Heaney refers to them as:
And for Paul Muldoon: I'm posting this to draw attention to the fact that Amazon has slashed the price from £65 to £21.15. Needless to say I've succumbed; I'll justify my decision by quoting a favourite Monty Python sketch:Hopefully I'll find them slightly more engrossing than a piston engine... And hopefully I'll get to my parents' house before they do: if my father were to open the package and think I'd spent £65 on one book he'd go spare...
davidtheherring 27th March 2005 09:01 PM
i think that's the smiley that Sam would have chosen, had he chosen one, which, on balance is unlikely - he's not renowned for being a smiley kind of guy...
I think of Beckett's work as scribblings in the marginalia of our lives. At least, I think that for the purposes of this thread, which is a summary of stuff I myself scribbled in the margins of my Calder copy of MPTK.
I see from my green a white fronted copy, 1993 edition, that i last read MPTK on a train sitting next to a woman reading a review called the "Manual of classical erotology" - I was so intrigued by the title that I scribbled it down in the margin of p89 of Sam's book and, that day, I may not have gone much further - cos I then copied down passages of the review that I must have read over this lady's shoulder, trying, no doubt, to determine if it was a serious work of scholarship or some tatty porn. You be the judge from the quote I transcribed, "the fiery red of clitoris glowing and sticking out of its black mass of curls".
Other annotations of my copy of MPTK show all the words that Beckett uses that I didn't then have in my personal lexicon*, for example, fulcrate, aliquots, ebriety, joxers (and that's just pages 44-45)
* and, I have to admit, my personal lexicon is still bereft of this foursome...
Yet more scribblings I used to underline the punchlines of Beckett's jokes. Cos, yes! Sam is as funny a geezer on the page as anyone alive or dead (withthe possible exceptions of Mark Twain and Pam Ayres). So on p41, at the end of a 10 line paragraph that starts "Not the least charm of this pure blank movement..." Sam adds the sentence. "But very nearly the least". A classic which I commend to your closer attention. Or, then again... *
* ah, I was looking for another example, but alas there is none. None I underlined that is; for Beckett is one of the funniest, mordant and unflinchingly witty writers there is. Don't trust me on this. Go read his stuff. It's funny!
The final category of annotation I included in my reading of MPTK was to highlight passages that quote Dante, or latin, or obscure philosophers - again an admission of personal ignorance I have failed to rectify, but also the recognition of a CLUE to understaning Sam. Cos Beckett, here in his juvenilia (he wrote MPRK in 1934), gives more of his source material away than in his later works where, if you're lucky, the best you can guess without years studying him for your doctorate, is "that sounds a bit like the Bible".
All in all then, MPTK was a good book to write in the margins of and I highly recommend that you write in yours. You get a copy from Amazon's auction pages (with the odd note written in the margins!)