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Samuel Beckett Died on 22 December 1989 + His Fascination with Chess and Endgame

December 21st, 2015
  • Samuel Becket at 73 1AvedonBeckett
    by Richard Avedon

    Samuel Beckett Died on 22 December 1989.

  • Samuel Beckett Draws Doodles of Charlie Chaplin, James Joyce & Hats

    Samuel Beckett discusses forms with Harold Pinter.

    Beckett and Chess

    Poet John Montague, a close friend of his fellow Irishman in Paris in the 1950s and 60s, tells me that Beckett, who was ill at ease with people he didn’t know well, would sit in a cafe moving the objects on the table around, “playing a fantasy game of chess”, as Montague puts it. It is also tempting to see Beckett treating the stage like a chessboard.

    Endgame in particular is, as the title makes clear, infused with chess.

    As always with Beckett, there is no easy key to understanding. Chess is clearly a subtext of Endgame – his biographer Deirdre Bair says Beckett was clear on this point – but it is difficult to be reductive.

  • “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” Samuel Beckett quote tatooed on Stan Wawrinka’s arm.

  • <> <> <> Samuel-Beckett-waits-for-the-Dog-and-Cat

    Interview in Vogue, December 1969: “Writing becomes not easier, but more difficult for me. Every word is like an unnecessary stain on silence and nothingness. Democritus pointed the way: ‘Naught is more than nothing.'”

    To Samuel Beckett archive here.

    Samuel Beckett’s “Perfect Actress” Billie Whitelaw Died on the Anniversary of Beckett’s Passing

    December 22nd, 2014
  • 1BillieWhitelaw
    (via)

    Samuel Beckett died on Dec 22, 1989.
    Billie Whitelaw died on Dec 21, 2014 (A day early)

    Billie Whitelaw dies

    In her autobiography Billie Whitelaw… Who He?, however, she acknowledged it was her work with Beckett that generated the most interest.
    Without their association, she wrote, “nobody would have been remotely interested in my autobiography.”

    See photos (guardian)

  • Click to see large NPG x28636; Billie Whitelaw by Jane Bown
    Photo by Jane Bown bromide print, 1969
    Jane Bown photographed Billie Whatelaw

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    photo by Jane Bown

  • Samuel Beckett 2012

    April 12th, 2012

  • Photo of Samuel Beckett by Steve Schapiro

    Samuel Beckett

    Samuel Beckett was born on Good Friday, April 13, 1906, near Dublin, Ireland. Raised in a middle class, Protestant home, the son of a quantity surveyor and a nurse, he was sent off at the age of 14 to attend the same school which Oscar Wilde had attended. Looking back on his childhood, he once remarked, “I had little talent for happiness.”
    Beckett was consistent in his loneliness. The unhappy boy soon grew into an unhappy young man, often so depressed that he stayed in bed until mid afternoon. He was difficult to engage in any lengthy conversation–it took hours and lots of drinks to warm him up–but the women could not resist him. The lonely young poet, however, would not allow anyone to penetrate his solitude. He once remarked, after rejecting advances from James Joyce’s daughter, that he was dead and had no feelings that were human.

    Beckett and Giacometti

    John Banville on Beckett – Storming Beauty

    Barney Rosset and Samuel Beckett

    Barney Rossett was his publisher and ex husband of Joan Mitchell.

    Samuel Beckett Reading List -1941 -1956

    The Temptation to Exist by Emil Cioran: “Great stuff here and there. Must reread his first.”

    Lautreamont and Sade by Maurice Blanchot: “Some excellent ideas, or rather starting-points for ideas, and a fair bit of verbiage, to be read quickly, not as a translator does. What emerges from it though is a truly gigantic Sade, jealous of Satan and of his eternal torments, and confronting nature more than with humankind.”

    The Castle by Franz Kafka: “I felt at home, too much so – perhaps that is what stopped me from reading on. Case closed there and then.”

    Online guide to Samuel Beckett (A Piece of Monologue)

    Saint-Lô + Waiting for Beckett

    March 4th, 2011

    (Saint-Lô ) RuinsStLo

    Vire will wind in other shadows
    unborn through the bright ways tremble
    and the old mind ghost-forsaken
    sink into its havoc.

    -Samuel Beckett, “Saint-Lô” (1946)

    Where is Saint-Lô?

    In Love with Hiding

    Beckett might have sat out World War II in his native Ireland, but as he later quipped in an interview with Israel Shenker, “I preferred France in war to Ireland at peace.” By 1941 he had joined the Resistance in Paris, largely as a response to the arrest of such Jewish literary friends as his old Trinity College classmate Alfred Péron. As a neutral Irishman who spoke fluent French, Beckett was in great demand; he and his companion (later wife) Suzanne Deschevaux-Dumesnil joined Gloria, a reseau de renseignement or information network, whose main—and dangerous—job was to translate documents about Axis troop movements and relay them to Allied headquarters in London.

    Waiting for Beckett: A Portrait of Samuel Beckett is a must for anyone interested in his work. It traces Beckett’s early years in Ireland and Paris, before discussing the impact of his novels, plays and late work with the help of friends, scholars and publishers.

    A Piece of Mononlogue Waiting for Samuel Beckett (all six parts of the documenatry film are linked here)

    Looking at the film steve_schapiro_Samuel_beckett_looking_at_film

    Georges Bataille (1951):

    What ‘Molloy’ reveals is not simply reality but reality in its pure state: the most meager and inevitable of realities, that fundamental reality continually soliciting us, but from which a certain terror always pulls us back. . . . There is in this reality the essence or residue of being. . .

    Impromptu

    August 24th, 2006
  • I – Faces

    Faces digital image by Fung Lin Hall

    Faces from left, Anna Akhmatova, Meryl Streep, Patricia Clarkson and Simone Weil.

    We have the actresses to portray Anna Akhmatova and Simone Weil. Would anyone care to write scripts for these talented actresses?

    II – Ohio Impromptu – Jeremy Iron in Samuel Beckett Play.

    There are two characters, the Reader and the Listener. The Reader, it emerges, is a mysterious messenger from someone now dead and once loved by the Listener. The book the Reader reads from tells the story of the Listener mourning right up until the last moment, when the story is told for the last time and “there is nothing left to tell.” Throughout, the Listener not only listens but also regulates his companion’s reading by knocking on the table with his hand in an attempt to ensure that this will not be the final telling of the tale.

    As in Dead Ringers, Irons does a remarkable job at portraying dual natures without the need for makeup or gimmickry: you always know which is which, as if Irons has inhabited both roles from birth to present, experiencing every nuance of difference over the years and inscribing them into face, voice, posture, manner. His Listener is deeply tragic but never pathetic; lost in a barren desert of his own creation, his final, angry knock is a note struck with overtones of futile desperation and fateful resignation. His Reader is no less remarkable. Like someone trusted with the care of a terminally ill but occasionally demanding loved one, he balances tender pity with profound weariness, painfully restricted compassion with self-aware frustration. When Reader and Listener trade knowing looks, you completely forget this is the same actor.
    From the modernword

    An Inner Silence Portrait of Beckett by Cartier Bresson + Youtube Play by Samuel Beckett

    August 14th, 2006
  • 1abeckettcartiebresson
    Samuel Beckett by Henri Cartier Bresson

    An Inner Silence: The Portraits of Henri Cartier-Bresson

  • Play by Play by Samuel Beckett Samuel Beckett

    Alan Rickman, Kristin Scott Thomas and Juliet Stevenson playing (tongue twisting Beckett play directed by Anthony Minghella) now on Youtube.

    Part I here

    Part II here

    Three urns stand on the stage. From each, a head protrudes – a man and two women. The play tells the story of a love triangle, and each character narrates a bitter history and their role in it. On the stage, each head is provoked into speech by an spotlight. In the film, the camera takes the role of the spotlight. (Synopsis)

    You only discover Beckett’s genius once you start immersing yourself in the material. Beckett completely altered our vision of what theatre can do. In a sense they are not really plays but theatrical events. He is more a poet or installation artist, or performance artist, or some strange combination of all of those things, than a playwright. He pays as much attention to what sound and light are doing as he does to text. Stevenson on Play.

    In 1965 Philip Glass composed music for a production of Play. The piece was scored for two soprano saxophones, and is his first work in a minimalist idiom – an idiom which was substantially influenced by the work of Beckett. From here.

    Sam I Am (from the New Yorker by Benjamin Kunkel)

    Beckett’s work can lay a strong claim to universality: not everyone has a God, but who doesn’t have a Godot?

    Samuel Beckett – Lessness for 100 years

    April 13th, 2006

    “Little body little block heart beating ash grey only upright. Little body ash grey locked right heart beating face to endlessness. Little body little block genitals overrun arse a single block grey crack overrun. Figment dawn dispeller of figments and the other called dusk.” (The last paragraph from “Lessness” by Samuel Beckett.)

    A room Samuel Beckett and Samuel Beckett

    The photo above is a room preserved as is from Beckett’s residence in Roussillon.
    Javier Marias used the photo of Samuel Beckett shown on the bottom right to describe him in his book “Written Lives”.
    He wrote about Mayakovsky and his remarkable shoes before moving forward to his impression of Beckett’s photo.

    “They (shoes) are the main object in the photo of Beckett too, except that their owner, seated almost on the floor and in a corner, seems slightly terrified of them. He is another hounded man, but at least he is not surprised by the hounding: he’s ready for it; he is holding a cigarette in his right and his left hand seems to be adorned, incongruously for someone so sober, with a bracelet rather than a wristwatch. His clothes are nothing out of the ordinary, although his cufflinks look like handcuffs. It it weren’t for those large shoes, the only thing that would matter, as in any portrait of Beckett, would be his head and those eagle eyes, which stare straight out with a truly animal expression, as if they did not understand the need for this moment of eternity, or why anyone should want to photograph it…..” ( page 191 – Perfect Artists, the last chapter from “Written Lives”)

    Beckett was asked by a reporter how a small country like Ireland could have produced so many great writers since the last half of the nineteenth century.

    “It’s the priests and the British, Beckett replied tersely. “They have buggered us into existence. After all, when you are in the last bloody ditch, there is nothing left but to sing.” (Page 282, A biography of Samuel Beckett by Deirdre Bair.)

    Samuel Beckett was a close friend of Joan Mitchell and her husband Barney Rossett was Beckett’s publisher.

    Beckett at 100 from Greencine daily with many good links including one on Barney Rossett.

    Samuel Beckett was born 100 years ago on April 13, 1906.
    His sun is in Aries and his moon is in Sagittarius, the same combo as Vincent Van Gogh and Thomas Jefferson with whom he shares a birthday.

    The combination of your Sun and Moon sign produces independence of thought, action, and speech. This is a position of dynamic ideals and popular appeal. You believe in the truth with an almost absolute devotion. This belief is perhaps not in the truths of scientific investigation, but more likely in the proper philosophies of life and other large issue abstractions. The natural tendency for Aries to be the pioneer, the fighter, the doer, and the initiator new concepts and ideas is not greatly modified by this combination. Yet the Sagittarius Moon does impose a personal code of ethics and honor that may not always be present in the brash Aries native. In you, executive powers are strongly marked, taking the form of controlling others with ideas and principles. The proper path that should be followed is so clear to you that you are not one ever to mince words in plotting the course. Your intensely emotional approach to getting something accomplished can sometimes limit your awareness of the feeling of others and you can be tough on those around you. The human frailties of pettiness, emotionalism, and jealousy are not well understood by you, and do not relate well with your totally open and frank personality. (From here, scroll down to Sagittarius Moon section.)