Here’s a fact that’s either very surprising or not surprising at all: Samuel Beckett didn’t want his letters to see the light of day. He once wrote to Barney Rosset that he didn’t care for “the ventilation of private documents.” Despite this disinclination, his third volume of letters comes out this week, and it includes, as detailed by John Banville in a review for The Irish Times, a letter in which Beckett asks that none of his plays be produced in Ireland. Pair with: our own Matt Seidel on Beckett’s “Echo’s Bones.”
“A ‘Complete Poems’ is a death certificate and memorial combined. After the Selected and the Collected, the Complete marks the poet’s official demise and at the same time erects a carven monument designed to outlast the ages.” At The Guardian John Banville reviews The Complete Poems of Philip Larkin which will be out on these shores in March.
“The French writer Marcel Proust paid for glowing reviews of the first volume of his Remembrance of Things Past to be put into newspapers.” Letters by Proust, which will be auctioned off at Soethby’s in Paris next month, reveal he was willing to pay handsomely for flattering references to his novel. See also: the first entry of The Millions’ Hannah Gersen‘s column, The Proust Book Club.
Is the global literary marketplace changing the way that novelists write? Over at Public Books, Dora Zhang writes on Rebecca Walkowitz’s Born Translated and books that “appear simultaneously or nearly simultaneously in multiple languages.” Pair with this Millions piece on literary translators at work.
Check out some of the good stuff floating around:A bookstore on a boat at The CS MonitorSimilarties between David Mitchell’s Number9Dream and Cloud Atlas at Conversational Reading.Tingle Alley discovers that Zadie Smith’s hubby Nick Laird may be getting preferential treatment in the book pages.Aelfred of Dunwoody Recalls a Viking Incursion at Wal-Mart, 848 AD. You can’t really beat this.
Recommended Reading: This beautiful essay from The Rumpus on the ambivalence of Jewishness and a whole lot more nuance than this Curiosity can communicate. Here’s an essay by Gabriel Brownstein from The Millions on what it means to be labeled as a Jewish writer.