978-0-674-62522-8 / 0674625226

No Author Better Served: The Correspondence of Samuel Beckett and Alan Schneider

by Beckett, Samuel

Publisher:Harvard University Press



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About the book:

Samuel Beckett's view of existence seems so remorselessly, brilliantly bleak that one doesn't expect much in the way of human warmth from his correspondence. Yet the letters he and director Alan Schneider exchanged over the course of three decades are full of wit and fellow feeling. The focus, to be sure, is on Beckett's plays, five of which Schneider premiered in the United States between 1956 and 1983. But that happens to be the perfect conduit for the playwright's praise (often directed at his acolyte) and disgust (often directed at his audience, his critics, and himself). When the initial American production of Waiting for Godot bombs in Miami, for instance, Beckett cheers Schneider on even as he pummels the ticket holders: "It is probable our conversations confirmed you in your aversion to half-measures and frills, i.e. to precisely those things that 90% of theatre-goers want. Of course I know the Miami swells and their live models can hardly be described as theatre-goers and their reactions are no more significant than those of a Jersey herd and I presume their critics are worthy of them." No Author Better Served conveys Beckett's sense of humility, which never failed him, even after Godot made him famous: "Success and failure on the public level never mattered much to me, in fact I feel much more at home with the latter, having breathed deep of its vivifying air all my writing life up to the last couple of years." It's also a wonderful document of his complete, sometimes nutty, always inspiring devotion to his art. --James Marcus

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