Black resigns

“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.

8 thoughts on “Black resigns

  1. 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.

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