October 7, 2011

Second volume of Beckett Letters debuts in America at Emory

The American release of "The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Volume 2: 1941-1956" will be celebrated Friday, Oct. 21 at Emory with readings from Beckett's works and letters by noted Irish actor Barry McGovern, and Atlanta actors Carolyn Cook, Brenda Bynum and Robert Shaw-Smith.

"Words Are All We Have: From 'Watt' to 'Godot'" will be presented by Laney Graduate School in Glenn Memorial Auditorium at 8:15p.m. Admission is free; seating is unreserved.

Letters of Samuel Beckett project

Beckett authorized founding editors Martha Dow Fehsenfeld and Lois More Overbeck to publish his correspondence in 1985. The Correspondence of Samuel Beckett project became affiliated with Emory's graduate school in 1990.

At Emory, several generations of graduate students have been involved in the research and editing process, providing a foundation for their future teaching and scholarship.

"The Beckett Letters Project is enormously important to graduate education and humanities research here at the Laney Graduate School, and this work is being shared and having an impact well beyond Emory throughout the world," says Dean Lisa Tedesco.

Workshop with Barry McGovern

In addition to the readings, "Staging Narrative" with Barry McGovern, a free workshop for students, theater artists and writers, is scheduled Saturday, Oct. 22 in White Hall 208 from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. McGovern's experience in adapting Beckett's prose to stage performance will be highlighted in a discussion emphasizing movement, spatial and vocal dynamics, and timing. Register for the workshop.

Currently on tour in the United States with the Gate Theatre Company, McGovern plays Clov in "Endgame" and performs in a solo adaptation of Samuel Beckett's novel, "Watt," in a production described by The Guardian as "Quite simply outstanding... explosively funny." His one-man show "I'll Go On" (derived from the novels "Molloy," "Malone Dies" and "The Unnamable") was produced by the Gate in 1985 and has played worldwide, most recently at the 2008 Lincoln Center Festival.

History of the project

Soon after the project moved to Emory, Daniel Gunn at the American University of Paris and George Craig, emeritus professor at the University of Sussex, joined the editorial team as editors and translators. The project has had support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Florence Gould Foundation and other research grants.

The American University of Paris has become a center for the project in France, involving students in the research for the edition, expanding the "laboratory for humanities research" to include students abroad. "The Letters of Samuel Beckett, 1928-1940," published in 2009 by Cambridge University Press to international acclaim revealed the passion, wit and surprising vulnerability of a young Beckett at his most unguarded.

Volume II

At the heart of this second volume of "The Letters of Samuel Beckett" is a sequence that he writes to Georges Duthuit between 1948 and 1952, letters in which he reaches for his views on art and artists. This is a crucial period of innovation for Beckett as he moves away from English and writes some of his best known works in French: "Molloy," "Malone meurt," "L'Innommable" and "En attendant Godot."

Beckett also goes from struggling to find publishers to becoming internationally known. With thoughtful translations from the French, as well as the meticulous editorial notes and chronologies, the volume follows Beckett's maturation into one of the literary greats of our time.

Co-sponsors of the readings and workshop at Emory include the Laney Graduate School; the Playwriting Center of Theater Emory; the Center for Creativity and the Arts; The Center for Humanistic Inquiry; Office of the Provost Luminaries Series; Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library at Woodruff Library; the departments of English, Comparative Literature, Theater Studies, French and Italian; as well as cultural grants from the Consulate General of Ireland in Atlanta, Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Consulate General of France in Atlanta.

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