University of Reading • 3-4 November 2016
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Khosrou Mahmudi in Samuel Beckett’s Catastrophe

About the Conference

Samuel Beckett is often hailed as the epitome of the ahistorical and apolitical writer. His work has been characterised by a poetics of ‘impotence and ignorance’ that makes use of aporia, silence, indifference, resistance to narrative and a disconnection from contextual time and space. However, to what extent has the political nature of Beckett’s aesthetic been overlooked?

Throughout his life and career, Beckett encountered an exceptional range of extreme political ideologies in Twentieth Century Europe. His background as an Anglo-Irish Protestant in the Irish Saorstat, his documented wandering through Nazi Germany in 1936-37, his decision to leave neutral Ireland during World War Two and subsequent role in the French Resistance, his encounters with Irish and British censorship throughout his career, and his support of political causes throughout his writing life such as anti-apartheid in South Africa and the imprisonment of Václav Havel all suggest that the politics of Beckett’s biography and writing is a ripe area for discussion. The various modernisms that emerged in Ireland, Britain, France and Germany also heavily influenced Beckett as a young writer, however, the political aspects of artistic movements in the Twentieth Century have yet to be wholly accounted for in terms of Beckett’s works. (more…)

Amber Jenkins summarises a recent paper by Andrew Nash, given at Cardiff University’s Centre for Editorial and Intertextual Research (CEIR)
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Samuel Beckett in the 1920s

Claiming that he has no critical authority in the field of Samuel Beckett, Dr Andrew Nash (University of Reading) confessed that his paper would shed no new light on Beckett’s writings. The paper was, instead, a thought-provoking account of the changes taking place in manuscript research, the increasing emphasis on the materiality of the manuscript, and the technological conditions (writing instruments and papers) that influence literary production. Nash’s research also provided the centre with an invaluable insight into the status of the modern literary manuscript as an artefact of considerable commercial value, and, in the case of Beckett’s Murphy notebooks, the ways in which the commercial and the scholarly are indelibly intertwined.

In July 2013, the University of Reading successfully purchased at auction six manuscript notebooks, detailing the composition of Beckett’s first novel Murphy (1938). Justifying their bid of £950,000, the University maintained that the acquisition of the manuscript would solidify its reputation as a central archival resource for Beckett’s work, and attract more scholars and researchers to Reading. (more…)

Dominique Fabre lists five books he can’t stop revisiting

It’s not easy to choose only five books, so I made up my mind and decided to mention the five I can’t help reading again, once in a while, because they are still here for me today. Every time I read them I find something I hadn’t discovered before—or maybe I had forgotten—so that the book is always the same, and yet always different, as well. Only literature can do that for me. (more…)

Beckett Festival 2016 at The Print Room/Coronet, Notting Hill Gate, London.
May 17 – June 5 2016.

Following their hugely successful run of Title and Deed by Will Eno last year, Gare St Lazare Ireland return with a festival of their acclaimed Beckett productions.

Internationally regarded among the foremost Beckett interpreters they have toured all over the world with their exquisite productions. Featuring 5 prose pieces and their collaboration with London composer Paul Clark (Clod Ensemble) the festival will also have a number of free public conversations and ancillary events and will feature an installation by senior Irish artist Brian O’Doherty entitled ‘Hello Sam’. 2016 is the 110th anniversary of the birth of Samuel Beckett. It is also the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising in Dublin which led to Irish independence and this event, supported by Culture Ireland, is part of an international program of Irish cultural events to mark the centenary. [Find Out More]

University of Kent • 4-5 May 2016
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Samuel Beckett

The Samuel Beckett and World Literature conference, funded by the Centre for Modern European Literature and the Faculty of Humanities, will be held at the University of Kent, Canterbury on 4-5 May 2016. (more…)

Rafia Zakaria (The Guardian) asks why the progressive French writer seems to have been left in the margins
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Violette Leduc

The explicitly sexual tell-all memoir, with its eager flirtations with the pornographic and dislocations of heterosexuality, has blossomed in the US and France in recent years. But Violette Leduc, who did it all and said it all more than 50 years ago, is a ghostly presence in its genealogy.

It is a mysterious marginalisation: Simone de Beauvoir, who took on Leduc as a protege, remains a feminist icon. Leduc’s contemporary Jean Genet, also wrote sexually explicit, homosexual texts and is widely read and venerated as a pioneer in French avant-garde writing. Not so Leduc. Her first book, the autobiographical novel L’Asphyxie, has still not been translated into English. Her novel Thérèse and Isabelle, written in 1955, was not published uncensored in France until 2000 and was only translated and published in English by the Feminist Press last year. [Read More]

Call for Papers

South Atlantic Modern Language Association (SAMLA)
Jacksonville, FL
4-6 November 2016

In Samuel Beckett’s literary landscapes, readers and viewers find dark, barren spaces, crippled characters, haunting voices, and an overall sense that there is “Nothing to be done” (Waiting for Godot). The hope that appears in the presence of a boy or a few leaves on a tree is soon negated by the shake of a head or the absence of a long awaited arrival. Beckett’s worlds are full of ashes and bones in which men and women are exiled and isolated; they are depleted, lonely spaces; they are dystopian spaces. (more…)

Terry Pitts of the excellent blog Vertigo weighs in on two novels by the French Nobel Prize laureate

Originally written in 1981 under the title Une Jeunesse, Young Once has just been translated into English by Damion Searls for the New York Review Books. It’s a brilliant and devastating piece of writing. (more…)