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Edmond Caldwell, over at The Chagall Position, on B.S. Johnson's relationship with Beckett:


In Like A Fiery Elephant: The Story of B.S. Johnson, Jonathan Coe tells how Johnson got to meet his hero, Samuel Beckett, in Paris in 1966. Johnson had already been sending the older writer what Coe describes as “fan letters” as well as copies of his first couple of books, and as a result of this first meeting Beckett became an even more important figure to Johnson. They would meet on further occasions over the subsequent years, to “drink whiskey and play billiards together” whenever Johnson went to Paris, and they exchanged letters and postcards in between times. On Beckett’s side these were invariably rather “brief and functionally worded,” Coe reports, and although the relationship was clearly a significant prop to Johnson’s morale Coe is agnostic about Beckett’s investment in it beyond hazarding the opinion that there was probably more to it than mere “writerly courtesy.” Beckett certainly proved ready to give practical support to Johnson on several key occasions, including writing a letter to a recalcitrant editor testifying to Johnson’s talent, sponsoring Johnson for an Arts Council grant, and even helping him out financially. In 1973, however – a bad year generally for Johnson – he found the limit of Beckett’s generosity when he used a flattering remark from their private correspondence as a jacket blurb for Christie Malry’s Own Double-Entry without Beckett’s permission. Beckett replied with an angry letter that seemed to have brought an end to their relations. On a Sunday night in the November of that same year, Coe reports that Johnson tried unsuccessfully to reach Beckett on the phone a number of times. The next night Johnson successfully opened his arteries in the bathtub.

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