Back in the 1970s John Marshall and I went to the UK on holiday. We saw some plays, ran into Shakespeare Professor Homer (Murph) Swander after a play in London, and we saw Not I by Samuel Beckett. Over the years I have read and taught Beckett to several University classes – always an enjoyable activity.
Today in my email I received a note from another former student, Colin Whyte, who sent a link to a recent CBC programme on, guess who, Samuel Beckett! Listen to it here. It is good.
Over the years I have posted about Beckett many times (do a search from the home page) if you are interested. One here!
Beckett’s Words: The Promise of Happiness in a Time of Mourning
David Kleinberg-Levin, Beckett’s Words: The Promise of Happiness in a Time of Mourning, Bloomsbury, 2015, 313pp., $29.95 (pbk), ISBN 9781474216838.
Reviewed by Gerald L. Bruns, University of Notre Dame
This book is the third volume in a trilogy in which David Kleinberg-Levin attempts to develop an unorthodox philosophy of hope, one derived from the reading of a number of twentieth-century literary texts — in other words, a philosophy that diverges from the politico-theological tradition represented by such canonical works as Ernst Bloch’s The Principle of Hope (1938-47) and Jürgen Moltmann’s Theology of Hope: On the Ground and the Implications of a Christian Eschatology (1964). Levin does not engage these texts — instead his recurrent references are to Walter Benjamin’s secularized Messianism and T. W. Adorno’s critique of Enlightenment, from both of which he takes his starting point: namely that neither a theocracy nor a world administered according to the principles of reason can save us from the ongoing catastrophes of history. For Levin, as (in different ways) for Benjamin and Adorno, the experience of disaster (hence of mourning) is the paradoxical condition that makes hope possible, if only in the form of the memory (or imagination) of happiness, or maybe simply a semblance of momentary freedom from the world as we know it.
I was lucky to see her perform. She was brilliant. And her work with Beckett – superb.
From Lisa Dwan writing in “theguardian”:
But it was Billie alone who was the pioneer of the most innovative theatre of the 20th century. I first met her in 2006 a few months after my first performance of Not I in London. Edward Beckett attended one those performances and over a Guinness with me afterwards suggested that it might be finally worthwhile to meet her, now that I’d “found my own way”. Up until that point neither of us had ever met anyone who had played Not I, and we greeted each other like two long-lost war veterans. We immediately swapped our trench stories of how we trained our mouths and diaphragms to speak at the speed of thought without moving a millimetre out of the meagre pinprick of light that allows just the lips alone to be seen.
Once she collapsed during rehearsals and Sam rushed over to her saying “Billie, Billie, what have I done to you? What have I done?” Coming to, she replied, “I really don’t know how to answer that Sam.” “Never mind,” he said, “back you go.”
“I would have walked on glass for that man,” Billie admitted. A year after our first meeting she called me out of the blue. “I want to give you his notes, I have to give you his notes …” Now I had no idea that I would ever play this role again, so I wasn’t quite sure what had me standing in Billie’s kitchen later that afternoon. I thought she might take out and dust off an old rehearsal manuscript, but instead she told me to sit down at the table and “Begin!” As I started speaking she sat directly opposite and began waving her hand, conducting me. I later learned that was exactly what Beckett had done to her, across her kitchen table. Source.