No Symbols Where None Intended
February 29, 2012 6:30 PM   Subscribe

Pages from Beckett's wartime manuscripts - from Watt, written in ink and colored crayons between 1940 and 1945, numbers 945 pages in six notebooks and loose sheets. More from Watt, part of a larger 2006 Samuel Beckett Centenary Exhibition, Fathoms from Anywhere.
posted by madamjujujive (8 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
'Waiting for Godot' is essentially a sentry experience.
posted by ovvl at 7:06 PM on February 29, 2012

'Nothing to be done' but click the links. Thanks for this!
posted by safetyfork at 7:43 PM on February 29, 2012

Wow. It doesn't look like he used a computer, yet he got so much done. Wonderful links, as we expect from you, madamjjj... but I can't go on.
posted by LeLiLo at 9:32 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

I thank you for this post from the bottom of my heart, and my father’s heart and my mother’s and my father’s father’s and my mother’s mother’s and my father’s mother’s and my mother’s father’s and my father’s mother’s father’s and my mother’s father’s mother’s and my father’s mother’s mother’s and my mother’s father’s father’s and my father’s father’s mother’s and my mother’s mother’s father’s and my father’s father’s father’s and my mother’s mother’smother’s....
posted by daisystomper at 9:45 PM on February 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

i was really struck by how normal his doodles are - they're just like anybody else's, and nothing like i would expect a literary genius's to be.
posted by facetious at 10:33 PM on February 29, 2012

I love Watt so much. When I first started reading it I never thought I'd make it through, but when I finished it I immediately wanted to start over and read it again.

I liked the stumbling affectlessness of Tadgh McKenna's unfinished podcast, too.

Those of you who aren't likely to read Watt should at least make sure you don't miss out on this passage:
Watt, reflecting on this, heard a little voice say, Mr. Knott, having once known a man who was bitten by a dog, in the leg, and having once known another man who was scratched by a cat, in the nose, and having once known a fine healthy woman who was butted by a goat, in the loins, and having once known another man who was disembowled by a bull, in the bowels, and having once frequented a canon who was kicked by a horse, in the crotch, is shy of dogs, and other four-footed friends, about the place, and of his inarticulate bipedal brothers and sister in God hardly less so, for he once knew a missionary who was trampled to death by an ostrich, in the stomach, and he once knew a priest who, on leaving with a sigh of relief the chapel where he had served mass, with his own hands, to more than a hundred persons, was shat on, from above, by a dove, in the eye.
Actually, let's make that two passages:
dead calm, then a murmur, a name, a murmured name, in doubt, in fear, in love, in fear, in doubt, wind of winter in the black boughs, cold calm sea whitening whispering to the shore, stealing, hastening, swelling, passing, dying, from naught come, to naught gone.
Thanks, mjjj.
posted by tangerine at 12:26 AM on March 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

Watt is my favourite of Beckett’s novels. It is fascinating to see these manuscripts. The passage from it that has stuck firmest in my mind is this one:
Watt saw, in the grate, of the range, the ashes grey. But they turned pale red, when he covered the lamp, with his hat. The range was almost out, but not quite... So Watt busied himself a little while, covering the lamp, less and less, more and more, with his hat, watching the ashes greyen, redden, greyen, redden, in the grate, of the range.
posted by misteraitch at 1:32 AM on March 1, 2012 [3 favorites]

This is great, and Watt is great. I was struck by how unjust this phrase from the first link is: Although popularly thought of as a rather dour and ascetic writer. This is one of the things I hate most about how we talk about art: the general insistence on seriousness even when deep comedy leaks from every pore of an author or artist. Beckett is one of the great comic writers, and it's a shame to miss that. I does make his work dour to insist that it's not funny.

I'm finishing up The Horse's Mouth by Joyce Cary right now, and Gulley Jimson is very much like a Beckett character. Cary was a bit more straightforward in his comedy, so I don't think there's any question about it, but I feel like a lot of it treads the paths worn by Beckett.
posted by OmieWise at 5:55 AM on March 1, 2012

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