From Dream of Fair to Middling Women, written in the late Twenties, to Now It Is, the sixty-one year old Samuel Beckett has had an astonishing career. Fame did not shine till Waiting for Godot, though fame has always been the least of his interests. Presiding now over the kingdom of absurdity, the recipient of countless windy tributes and a marked influence on both sides of the Atlantic, Beckett has all the aspects of something classic. His searingly sparse, mysterious, comic style is realism turned on its head, the condition of man stripped of vanity, and all philosophy mocked. Still, cranky and isolated though he be, Beckett is basically humanistic, even a bit metaphysical, as these three stories and thirteen ""texts"" once again demonstrate, with their familiar doddering protagonists, old men tossed hither and thither from one dumpy refuge to another, remembering, complaining, giving up, starting again, simultaneously damned and blessed. In ""The End,"" there's a wonderfully funny passage where a Marxist orator tries to make the meandering beggar a victim of the class struggle, but he is met with distance and disdain. ""Perhaps he was an escaped lunatic,"" thinks the beggar; ""He had a nice face, a little on the red side."" Someone has remarked on Beckett's infinite resignation--it's rather joyous too.