Samuel Beckett's disease
"Full house every night", the author of En Attendant Godot noted in 1953, in a letter to his lover; "it's a disease."
I'm quoting here from the second volume of The Letters of Samuel Beckett, which is reviewed in this week's TLS by Alan Jenkins, the deputy editor. It tells an extraordinary story, and, for those who'd like to read more about the transformation of Beckett's reputation, his thinking and life ("In the place where I have always found myself, where I will always find myself, turning round and round, falling over, getting up again, it is no longer wholly dark nor wholly silent"), the review will be online, all being well, later today.
But there's more . . . . To quote from David Horspool's introductory note to this week's TLS:
"The physical demands that Samuel Beckett’s plays make of their actors are well-known. In Play, the characters are made to stand inside urns, as pictured on this week’s cover. Beckett was very particular that only standing, not sitting, would do: 'The sitting posture results in urns of unacceptable bulk and is not to be considered'. In Endgame, a couple are confined to 'ashbins', while in Happy Days, Winnie is embedded, eventually up to her neck, in a mound of earth. The symbolic and metaphorical underpinnings of all these confinements have been the stuff of Beckett studies for years. Peter Leggatt, in turning his attention to a script in the playwright’s archive that is a progenitor of Play, has found an unlikely new source of inspiration: chicken-farming. In Commentary, Leggatt explains how the manuscript of 'Before Play' – previously referred to but never before quoted from or discussed by scholars – makes use of images of flight to contrast with its three confined characters, who are kept not in urns, but in white boxes, with their heads poking out."