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Reading: The Faber Companion to Samuel Beckett

18 July 2009

The Faber Companion to Samuel Beckett The Faber Companion to Samuel Beckett by S.E. Gontarski

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
“Currently reading” is a misnomer in this case — it is not a book one reads, but a book one refers to, a kind of concordance of Samuel Beckett’s works, with explanations of obscure allusions and such.

My first introduction to Beckett came nearly 50 years ago when someone who had been reading Watt read an extract to show what a strange book it was. She quoted:

O what is this so high, so white?
And what is this so black, so low?
It is a duck, a duck, a duck

and went on to say

Cush’s stones are calling yet
forth from the wall to Habakkuk

and ended with wind, and sand, and evening wolves.

I wanted to read the bits I couldn’t remember and took Watt out of the university library, and searched for that passage in vain. I thought I was going mad, but the Faber Companion to Samuel Beckett informed me that that passage had been omitted from an American edition of Watt. Unfortunately our university library doesn’t have the unexpurgated edition.

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