Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Justin Beplate on Beckett Remembering / Remembering Beckett

at the TLS. It's a good piece, but I do not envy these people assigned to write about Beckett in the year of the centenary (especially about this volume of interviews, which sounds relatively insubstantial); it is a good rule of thumb not to read any reviews of a book you are reviewing yourself until after you've finished (or at the very least drafted) your own piece, but in this case it would have been very hard to avoid them. Anyway, here's one interesting passage from Beplate's piece:

[I]t is striking how often here it falls to the technicians, actors and translators to ask the direct questions, often with rewarding results. The Australian writer and actor Lawrence Held recalls having asked Beckett, during a rehearsal in West Berlin, what Endgame was about. After a moment’s pained look, Beckett recovered and, referring to a chess tournament under way at the time, responded, “Well, it’s like the last game between Karpov and Korchnoi. After the third move both knew that neither could win, but they kept on playing”. And in one of the more revealing contributions to the volume, Duncan Scott, a lighting engineer at London’s Royal Court Theatre, recounts how animated Beckett became when asked about his novel Watt and whether he had ever made himself laugh while writing it during the war years – “with that hair-sticking-on-end look, and ultra-penetrating gaze, [he] confessed that sometimes he had”.

Endgame is still my favorite of all the plays, I think....

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