The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Volume II: 1941–1956
edited by George Craig, Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Dan Gunn, and Lois More Overbeck
Cambridge University Press, 791 pp., $50.00
Professional success touches with its transfiguring staff even the stoutest resister. For the first fifty-odd years of his life Samuel Beckett managed to elude Fortuna’s bounteous glance. On the opening page of that knotty late text Worstward Ho he set out, succinctly and famously, his negative aesthetic: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” By that time, however, he had experienced very great success, critical and popular. It was a triumph that astonished him.