NO AUTHOR BETTER SERVED by Samuel Beckett

NO AUTHOR BETTER SERVED

The Correspondence of Samuel Beckett and Alan Schneider

KIRKUS REVIEW

The great playwright exchanges letters with his favorite American stage director. In 1955 Alan Schneider was invited to direct the American production of Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. He went to London to meet the playwright beforehand, and a warm, productive relationship soon developed, ending only with Schneider’s accidental death in 1984. (He was fatally struck by a car while walking to a mailbox, intending to post a letter to Beckett.) Their correspondence—279 letters from Beckett, 209 from Schneider—is of partcular interest in matters of Beckett’s stagecraft and self-interpretation. Because of Beckett’s confidence in him, Schneider was privileged to premiere five of the Nobelist’s works in the US, including Waiting for Godot, Krapp’s Last Tape, and Endgame. The notoriously demanding playwright favored Schneider, as Maurice Harmon (Anglo-Irish Literature/ University Coll., Dublin) explains in his concisely excellent introduction, because Schneider “did not intrude upon the work but submitted himself attentively to it, discovering its imaginative inner life, most pleased in the end if his contribution to the play’s successful performance could be unnoticed.” Schneider honored Beckett’s intentions scrupulously. Consequently, Beckett is in his letters most forthcoming about his wishes and intentions for his plays. Scrupulous, too, is editor Harmon who supplies useful and thorough notes for each letter. Taken together, the Beckett-Schneider letters also offer a unique overview of Beckett’s stage work in the US. Apart from their detailed discussion of the plays that Beckett entrusted to Schneider, we are privy to their expert comments on the successes and failures of other Beckett productions here and abroad. The tone is warm and friendly throughout, yet the letters are curiously uninteresting in any regard except theater matters. A well-edited set of documents that will be uniquely invaluable to students of Beckett’s works and of the American theater. (21 line illustrations, not seen)

Pub Date: Oct. 20th, 1998
ISBN: 0-674-62522-6
Page count: 512pp
Publisher: Harvard Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 1998




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