Beckett’s Secret

Samuel Beckett, Paris, 1964

Samuel Beckett, Paris, 1964

Coetzee on Beckett (1992):

Beckett has meant a great deal to me in my own writing – that must be obvious. He is a clear influence on my prose. […] The essays I wrote on Beckett’s style aren’t only academic exercises, in the colloquial sense of that word. They are also attempts to get closer to a secret, a secret of Beckett’s that I wanted to make my own. And discard, eventually, as it is with influences.

It is In the Heart of the Country that Beckett’s influence seems most clear in Coetzee’s work, but also apparent in Waiting for Barbarians and  Life and Times of Michael K.  In the latter Coetzee writes memorably of, “a stone, a pebble that, having lain around quietly minding its own business since the dawn of time, is suddenly picked up and tossed randomly from hand to hand,”  paying quiet homage to Molloy’s famous sequence.

[November 2013: The link originally in this post, to a NYRB Coetzee review of Beckett’s letters is now subscribers only, so I’ve changed the original post.]

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