The Envelopes, Please

Beckett letters now open

Colorful stack of several covers of books by Samuel Becket, one cover (somewhat out of focus) with a black-and-white portrait of Becket.

Emory has debuted an open-access website listing the archival descriptions and locations of the letters of the Irish Nobel Laureate Samuel Beckett.

Developed in collaboration with more than twenty-five American literary archives, the Location Register of the Letters of Samuel Beckett in American Public Archives was established to collect, consult, and transcribe all extant letters by Beckett, and to publish the selected edition of The Letters of Samuel Beckett in four volumes (Cambridge University Press, 2009–2016).

In 1985, Beckett authorized founding editor Martha Dow Fehsenfeld to publish his correspondence, and Emory’s Lois More Overbeck also was asked to join the project. From 1985 until his death in 1989, Beckett himself helped to facilitate their research through access and interviews. In 1990, the effort became affiliated with Emory’s Laney Graduate School.

”For Samuel Beckett, letters were first of all a human exchange: they were a means of keeping in touch, of spanning distance and time,” says Overbeck, the project’s managing editor. “Both the tempo and immediacy of contemporary communication suggest that Beckett’s letters may be among the last great literary correspondences.”

The Location Register is the first step toward preserving the cumulative knowledge of this unique archive.

“We are honored to be a part of this special project to enhance widespread access,” says University Librarian Yolanda Cooper. “We have no doubt that this work will ensure the introduction of Beckett’s work to future generations of readers and scholars.”

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