cover image The Letters of Samuel Beckett: Vol. IV, 1966–1989

The Letters of Samuel Beckett: Vol. IV, 1966–1989

Samuel Beckett, edited by George Craig, Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Dan Gunn, and Lois More Overbeck. Cambridge Univ., $49.99 (944p) ISBN 978-0-521-86796-2

This illuminating, exhaustively detailed fourth and final volume of Beckett’s collected letters illustrates his world-weariness during his last 23 years of life, as well as his continued and energetic attention to writing. Correspondents include James Knowlson, Beckett’s authorized biographer; Barney Rossett, Beckett’s publisher at Grove Press; and Fehsenfeld, the appointed editor of his letters. Regarding an unauthorized biographer, Beckett writes that “I have told her... that I won’t have anything to do with any biography, that my ’life’ is entirely without interest, that I will neither help nor hinder her, that my friends are free to tell her & show her what they please.” With great warmth, Beckett recommends the Cuban novelist Nivaria Tejera for a Guggenheim. With his typical humor, Beckett tells New York Times theater critic Mel Gussow that he has “nothing to say about the sad unevent [Beckett’s 80th birthday] & its sad effects—for publication or otherwise.” Editor Craig contributes impeccable translations of the letters in the collection written in French. These lovingly selected letters capture an introspective Beckett living out his final years with the same devotion to the written word that marks his earlier letters. (Oct.)