By: André Bernold
Meeting in the cafés and streets of Paris, with conversations noted and hesitancies observed, the gradual exfoliation of a personality is revealed across the last decade of Beckett’s life as one intellectual appraises another. This is a charming and sympathetic study by André Bernold of one of literature’s most opaque writers and of his interests in music, philosophy, visual arts and the spoken arts. In shedding sympathetic light on a famously private Irishman abroad, these verbal exposures complement John Minihan’s contemporaneous and intimate black-and-white photographs, taken in the same environs.
‘Despite his deep sense of privacy, Beckett’s persona has been so widely written about that it has become unavoidably mixed up in our imagination with what Bernold calls his “creatures”. Whether or not Barthes and Foucault were right to dismiss the figure of the author, when confronted with Vladimir wincing or Krapp hunched over his tape recorder or Molloy resting on his bicycle, one’s mind always seems to turn to the “gentle mask” placed over the “severe ossature” that has been immortalized in John Minihan’s photographs, surely among the most iconic images of the twentieth century. We simply cannot help it.’ (From the translator’s preface.)
“You have to be quite a Beckett nut to enjoy it, but even if you’re not, you may well know someone who is.” —The Irish Times
“In the end, the book works because it is itself the enactment of a Beckettian situation: that of two protagonists, somehow mutually annihilating their ability to express themselves.” – The Guardian
Born 1958 in Alsace and a graduate of École Normale Supérieure, André Bernold is author of a study of the critic Deleuze and of a memoir, Broken Silk. He teaches in the USA.