The World of Samuel Beckett, 1906-1946

Lois Gordon, Author Yale University Press $60 (264p) ISBN 978-0-300-06409-4
Gordon, professor of English and comparative literature at Fairleigh Dickinson University, looks at the circumstances that shaped Beckett's writing. She begins with Beckett's native city, Dublin, how he viewed it as a Protestant among Catholics and the effect the Irish Rising of 1916-1922 had on him. She discusses Beckett's life in Paris during the 1920s and his relationship with James Joyce. She paints a pleasant portrait of Joyce the family man and artist; considers Beckett's friendship with Jack Yeats, the poet's brother; and recounts Beckett's time in London during the early 1930s. The most gripping chapters are about the WW II occupation of France and Beckett's heroic role in the Resistance, which was inspired, according to the author, by the spirit of the great Irish revolutionary Michael Collins. Although there are annoying inaccuracies (e.g., Joyce and Irish politician Eamon DeValera do not, as the author claims, share the same birthday), this meticulously footnoted bio serves as a sober corrective to many of Deirdre Bair's more speculative theses in Samuel Beckett. Photos not seen by PW. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/19/1996
Release date: 02/01/1996
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