Monday, February 27, 2006

Yes, I really thought it was good.

Outside the strict jurisdiciton of this blog, but wonderful nonetheless: The Guardian's collection of personal stories about the redoubtable Samuel Beckett on the centennary of his birth. Some priceless bits from far-and-wide, but none more touching than this from Paul Auster that helps to humanise the rather intimidating Mr. B:

During the conversation, he told me that he had just finished translating Mercier and Camier, his first French novel, which had been written in the mid-forties. I had read the book in French and had liked it very much. 'A wonderful book,' I said. I was just a kid, after all, and I couldn't suppress my enthusiasm. But Beckett shook his head and said, 'Oh no, no, not very good. In fact, I've cut out about 25 per cent of the original. The English version is going to be quite a bit shorter than the French.' After that we started talking about other things. Then, out of the blue, five or 10 minutes later, he leant across the table and said, 'You really liked it, huh? You really thought it was good?' This was Samuel Beckett, remember, and not even he had any grasp of the value of his work. No writer ever knows, not even the best ones. 'Yes,' I said to him. 'I really thought it was good.'


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