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Beckett before Godot


  • Page extent: 292 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.43 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521604512 | ISBN-10: 0521604516)

In Beckett before Godot, John Pilling (editor of the Cambridge Companion to Beckett) re-evaluates the formative years of Beckett between the publication of his first work in 1929 and the composition late in 1946 of The Calmative, his last work before the 'trilogy'. Using a wealth of unpublished manuscripts and correspondence from around the world, Pilling offers a detailed account of Beckett's early psychological and aesthetic development, and shows how his artistic growth was paradoxically linked to the likelihood of failure, to which he was always temperamentally attracted. Pilling's treatment of the first two decades of Beckett's career as a writer offers for the first time a coherent critical narrative of his development during this long period of apprenticeship. Beckett before Godot links biographical fact with a series of powerful close readings to modify and enhance our understanding of one of this century's most influential authors.

• Leading scholar of Beckett presents first systematic treatment of Beckett's early years • Uses a large amount of previously unpublished material • Publication of authorised biography has generated a surge of interest in Beckett's work


1. Introduction; Part I. 1929–1932: 2. Dante ... Bruno ... Vico ... Joyce and Assumption: 'the prospect of self-extension'; 3. From a view to a kill: Proust and Le Concentrisme; 4. Dream of Fair to Middling Women: 'a solution of continuity'; Part II. 1932–1936: 5. More poems than precipitates: towards Echo's Bones and beyond; 6. In the interval: More Pricks Than Kicks; 7. Beckett as bookman: the reviews; 8. Figure and ground: Murphy; Part III. 1937–1946: 9. Dissonance: 1937–1940; 10. Watt and Watt not; 11. Texts for something: 'a universe becomes provisional'; 12. Mercier et Camier and the nouvelles: 'the vicissitudes of the road'; 13. Conclusion.


'Anyone wishing to study Beckett before Godot will be indebted to Pilling for the wealth of material he has sifted and presented here.' The Times Literary Supplement

' … a fascinating … study of the development of Beckett the literary writer.' Theatre Research International

'Beckett before Godot is a marvelous book. Pilling's reader comes away with a new appreciation for not only the text under discussion but also the struggles of the artist behind the text … an insightful and demanding book.' The Beckett Circle

'Beckett Before Godot offers a much needed study of Beckett's 'formative years' from 1929 to 1946 … Beckett Before Godot demonstrates meticulous scholarship, referring to the MacGreevy correspondence and to Knowlson's biography to provide contexts for the creation of specific works.' Theatre Research International

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