Superb essay from Stephen Mitchelmore over on the This Space blog about Beckett's Letters: "What makes the editors’ task particularly daunting (that is, in persuading the executors to publish) is Beckett’s reluctance to discuss the detail of his work. When he does mention what he has written, he is excessively dismissive. So, rather than offer a review of the letters, I want to focus on this apparent oddity..."

Once he is famous Beckett receives letters from enquirers curious about the origins of his work. Hans Naumann again: “Has the work of Kafka ever played a part in your spiritual life?”. He apologises for his response: “I am not trying to seem resistant to influences. I merely note that I have always been a poor reader, incurably inattentive, on the look-out for an elsewhere. And I think I can say, in no spirit of paradox, that the reading experiences which have affected me most are those that were best at sending me to that elsewhere.” Reading Kafka, he says, “I felt at home – too much so”. He didn’t finish The Castle because it did not offer this elsewhere: “I remember feeling disturbed by the imperturbable aspect of his approach. I am wary of disasters that let themselves be recorded like a statement of accounts.”

Read it.

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