Beckett’s Stirring Still

We seldom see what is staring at us. Think of Stirrings Still while reading Cees Nooteboom, who writes, “The young man knew that too, and later made increasing use of omission as the most essential feature of his art, his last book, only ten pages long, describing his own demise as he lives through it.”

Beckett’s last book, lauded as one of the most beautiful books of the last hundred years, quarter-bound in Parisian parchment, with natural linen and cotton boards, stamped with a motif by Louis le Brocquy in eighteen carat gold. This edition of 226 copies, with nine lithographed illustrations by Brocquy, signed by the illustrator and Beckett.

Part 1, in the opening line of the third paragraph, we encounter the jarring polysyllabic whithersoever. Beckett, though frail and breathing with the help of an oxygenator, expressed dismay that he had not given approval for the final proofs of this special edition, in which his neologism is misspelt as withersoever. In some of his friends’ copies of this edition, he took the opportunity to correct the error by hand, perhaps further enhancing  their future market value.

4 thoughts on “Beckett’s Stirring Still

  1. I’m occasionally conflicted about deluxe editions, or “manufactured collectibles,” as beautiful as many of them are. And yet, the simple and understated nature of this item, coupled with your narrative about the continuous artist perfecting his work to the very end is moving indeed. Becket’s final statements and thoughts about life and art clearly a natural manifestation of the way he lived and worked. It reminds me of some the the end-of-life anecdotes in James Knowlson’s “Damned to Fame.”

    • I share your doubt about these special editions; normally they bypass both my collector’s instinct and the desire for a book I can comfortably annotate. For this one, I’d make an exception.

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