“In the early ’80s, I wrote Samuel Beckett a letter. I explained that I was trying to write, adding that he was probably often sought out by strangers, and so rather than asking him to read my work, suggested instead that we play a game of correspondence chess with, at stake, a play I’d written. If I won, he’d read it and give me his opinion. If he won, I’d read over my own play at my leisure. I closed my letter with these words: “Just in case, 1. e4.” By return post, Samuel Beckett replied, “Black resigns. Send the play. Sincerely, Samuel Beckett.” I sent him my play, and one or two weeks later, I got another handwritten note: he had kept his word, read my play, and advised me to trim certain passages.”
Jean-Phillippe Toussaint, Urgency and Patience
A slight text but what is good is very good, especially the parts on Beckett.
What a wonderful man!
Wasn’t he just. The tales of his generosity are everywhere. An inspiration.
Yes, isn’t it.
Essence of what it means to be human
True, Miranda, however difficult if proves sometimes.
But that’s what I find so astonishing – finding scraps to hold on to regardless, there is something life affirming in the absurd
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That’s such a great story.
Just a thought: I know you’re deep into Richardson but when you emerge, you might take a look at Toussaint’s Running Away. A short book and so a relatively quick read, it’s part of a tetralogy but stands alone and, for me, is the best of the four. It’s very much a contemporary work in the alienating ambients of hotels, airplanes, East and West, which is why I think you might enjoy it.
Thanks, Des. That looks very much like something I might enjoy. I’ll pick a copy up. Urgency and Patience was a good single read tonic when I wasn’t feeling up to the intensity of Pilgrimage.