By Andre Bernold

A captivating and sympathetic learn of 1 of literature's so much opaque writers and of his pursuits in tune, philosophy, visible arts and the spoken arts.

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Sample text

Rather, it was to go on observing what it is to ‘meet’ these others, who do not exist, who have never annoyed anyone, to go on confirming that this might not be in vain, inside those interminable forests where everyone is walking around. From this point of view, his friendships prolonged his work, two aspects of which still interested him: that he be delivered from it for ever and yet that he go on: ‘All my life, I’ve been banging on the same nail,’ he used to say. Along with the rest of us, the others, he must have been touching the wall; he did not tire of it any more than we did.

Why not? Something there persisted in showing its face, which seemed to him worth the trouble of examining from an angle as unencumbered as the space he inhabited: ‘I keep nothing’ (1981); ‘I have nothing, I have nothing’ (October 1985). ’ His exactitude offered a glimpse of that state of fixed trembling he had reached, that state of beautiful emptiness, which he expressed through his hands. By virtue of the finished work as much – on a different note – as by the style of his affections, his exactitude took on the strange function of passing into itself, of vanishing, of disappearing into concentration (imagine cubes of salt dissolving into cubes of salt), which produced a kind of white all around.

Beckett, as André Bernold puts it here, became ‘the most watched silhouette on the boulevard Saint-Jacques’. Not all of this was mere prurience. F. B. Yeats: A Life, and Jean-Yves Tadié’s Marcel Proust, not forgetting James Knowlson and Anthony Cronin’s biographies of Beckett. We thus know infinitely more about these writers than we did fifty or sixty years ago. 3 Despite his deep sense of privacy, Beckett’s persona has been so widely written about that it has become unavoidably mixed up in our imagination with what Bernold calls his ‘creatures’.

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