Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Muse: Online Beckett Exhibition

I don't find solitude agonizing, on the contrary.
Holes in paper open and take me fathoms from anywhere.
~ Samuel Beckett in a Letter to Nancy Cunard, January 26, 1959

Once again the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin has mounted a marvelous online exhibition, Fathoms from Anywhere,  a homage to Samuel Beckett (1906-1989). As noted in the Introduction, the exhibition derives "substantially from the catalogue published in conjunction with a Beckett exhibition [No Symbols Where None Intended] mounted at the Ransom Center in 1984 as part of a major conference" about the writer, at the time of which Beckett was still alive. 

In 2007, the center acquired from Beckett's former editor Richard Seaver a cache of Beckett-related papers that included hand-corrected manuscripts, typescripts, galley proofs, and correspondence from the years 1953 to 1973. That acquisition was added to the books and manuscripts the center first began obtaining in 1958, when it purchased the library of T.E. Hanley. The center has continually added to its significant holdings. The current Web exhibition draws from the entire collection.

Be prepared to spend some time browsing, because what's online is substantial, although it is not intended to survey year-by-year Beckett's life or career or to account definitively for his work. The virtual exhibition generally covers:

▶ Beckett's career, from beginnings and early writings to final and posthumous works. On each page, you'll find links to manuscripts and publications, and, where available, information about productions and reviews, as well as audio of readings of Beckett's work. Individual pages are provided for such works as Waiting for Godot, Krapp's Last Tape, and Happy Days. Coverage of radio plays, short prose works, and poems in English also is provided. In addition, a separate page addresses the award of the 1969 Nobel Prize in Literature to Beckett. 

Circle of writers, critics, publishers, actors, editors, philosophers, playwrights, and others well-known and associated with Beckett, among them Sylvia Beach, Nancy Cunard*, Peggy Guggenheim, James Joyce, and Kenneth Tynan. The brief summaries are not hyperlinked, unfortunately; however, they do provide insight into some of the more influential members of Beckett's circle.

▶ Biographical timeline, beginning with Beckett's birth in 1906 in Foxrock, County Dublin, Ireland, and ending in 1995 with the publication of Beckett's Eleutheria

An interactive page allows visitors to share their thoughts and read others' impressions about the exhibition, their favorite Beckett work(s), why we should read Beckett, and questions about the writer.

Also of Interest

Samuel Beckett Collection at Ransom Center

Inventory of Samuel Beckett Papers in Carlton Lake Collection at Ransom Humanities Research Center

From the Samuel Beckett Endpage, which is hosted by the University of Antwerp and is the official page of the Samuel Beckett Society, you can access a range of Beckett-related resources, including Beckett journals, interviews, performances, and images.

* See the center's Inventory of Nancy Cunard papers.

1 comment:

Louise Gallagher said...

I am in awe of the creative works you uncover and share! Thank you.