Malone Dies, page 2part #2 of Molloy Series
It is this striving towards a language in which Malone might be at home in his own words that is one of the novel’s most striking features. It may be that Beckett’s fiction followed a path towards silence, and that in Malone’s dying we see the dwindling and expiry of a kind of prose fiction that has grown aged and infirm. But Malone Dies also marks the emergence of an impossibly young narrative, written in a language that is still to come. Malone describes himself at one point as an ‘old foetus’ (p. 52), which is an apt description of this most geriatric and most youthful of novels. If it marks the end of a phase, then it also brings a new set of possibilities to the point of expression. In this sense, the moment, coming ‘soon’, at which Malone will be ‘quite dead at last’, has still to arrive.
1 Beckett used this phrase in an interview with Lawrence Harvey. See James Knowlson, Damned to Fame: The Life of Samuel Beckett (London: Bloomsbury, 1996), p. 358.
2 Unpublished letter, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRHRC).
3 Unpublished letter, HRHRC. Thanks to David Tucker for making these letters available to me.
4 For a brief summary of Beckett’s responses to his work being published in ‘trilogy’ form, see C. J. Ackerley and S. E. Gontarski, eds., The Faber Companion to Samuel Beckett (London: Faber and Faber, 2006), pp. 586–7. See also John Banville’s article on the decision to publish Nohow On as a trilogy, in New York Review of Books, 13 August 1992, p. 20.
5 Samuel Beckett, Malone meurt (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit, 1951), p. 7.
6 Samuel Beckett, Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable (London: John Calder, 1959), p. 179.
7 Samuel Beckett, Malone Dies (New York: Grove Press, 1956), p. 1.
8 Beckett, Malone meurt, p. 42.
Table of Dates
Where unspecified, translations from French to English or vice versa are by Beckett.
13 April Samuel Beckett [Samuel Barclay Beckett] born in ‘Cooldrinagh’, a house in Foxrock, a village south of Dublin, on Good Friday, the second child of William Beckett and May Beckett, née Roe; he is preceded by a brother, Frank Edward, born 26 July 1902.
Enters kindergarten at Ida and Pauline Elsner’s private academy in Leopardstown.
Attends larger Earlsfort House School in Dublin.
Follows Frank to Portora Royal, a distinguished Protestant boarding school in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh (soon to become part of Northern Ireland).
October Enrols at Trinity College Dublin (TCD) to study for an Arts degree.
August First visit to France, a month-long cycling tour of the Loire Valley.
April–August Travels through Florence and Venice, visiting museums, galleries and churches.
December Receives BA in Modern Languages (French and Italian) and graduates first in the First Class.
Jan.–June Teaches French and English at Campbell College, Belfast.
September First trip to Germany to visit seventeen-year-old Peggy Sinclair, a cousin on his father’s side, and her family in Kassel.
1 November Arrives in Paris as an exchange lecteur at the École Normale Supérieure. Quickly becomes friends with his predecessor, Thomas McGreevy [after 1943, MacGreevy], who introduces Beckett to James Joyce and other influential anglophone writers and publishers.
December Spends Christmas in Kassel (as also in 1929, 1930 and 1931).
June Publishes first critical essay (‘Dante … Bruno . Vico . . Joyce’) and first story (‘Assumption’) in transition magazine.
July Whoroscope (Paris: Hours Press).
October Returns to TCD to begin a two-year appointment as lecturer in French.
November Introduced by MacGreevy to the painter and writer Jack B.Yeats in Dublin.
March Proust (London: Chatto & Windus).
September First Irish publication, the poem ‘Alba’ in Dublin Magazine.
January Resigns his lectureship via telegram from Kassel and moves to Paris.
Feb.–June First serious attempt at a novel, the posthumously published Dream of Fair to Middling Women.
December Story ‘Dante and the Lobster’ appears in This Quarter (Paris).
3 May Death of Peggy Sinclair from tuberculosis.
26 June Death of William Beckett from a heart attack.
January Moves to London and begins psychoanalysis with Wilfred Bion at the Tavistock Clinic.
February Negro Anthology, edited by Nancy Cunard and with numerous translations by Beckett from the French (London: Wishart & Co).
May More Pricks than Kicks (London: Chatto & Windus).
Aug.–Sept. Contributes several stories and reviews to literary magazines in London and Dublin.
November Echo’s Bones and Other Precipitates, a cycle of thirteen poems (Paris: Europa Press).
Returns to Dublin.
29 September Leaves Ireland for a seven-month stay in Germany.
Apr.–Aug. First serious attempt at a play, Human Wishes, about Samuel Johnson and his household.
October Settles in Paris.
6/7 January Stabbed by a street pimp in Montparnasse. Among his visitors at Hôpital Broussais is Suzanne Deschevaux-Dumesnil, an acquaintance who is to become Beckett’s companion for life.
March Murphy (London: Routledge).
April Begins writing poetry directly in French.
3 September Great Britain and France declare war on Germany. Beckett abruptly ends a visit to Ireland and returns to Paris the next day.
June Travels south with Suzanne following the Fall of France, as part of the exodus from the capital.
September Returns to Paris.
13 January Death of James Joyce in Zurich.
1 September Joins the Resistance cell Gloria SMH.
16 August Goes into hiding with Suzanne after the arrest of close friend Alfred Péron.
6 October Arrival at Roussillon, a small village in unoccupied southern France.
24 August Liberation of Paris.
30 March Awarded the Croix de Guerre.
Aug.–Dec. Volunteers as a storekeeper and interpreter with the Irish Red Cross in Saint-Lô, Normandy.
July Publishes first fiction in French – a truncated version of the short story ‘Suite’ (later to become ‘La Fin’) in Les Temps modernes, owing to a misunderstanding by editors – as well as a critical essay on Dutch painters Geer and Bram van Velde in Cahiers d’art.
Jan.–Feb. Writes first play, in French, Eleutheria (published posthumously).
April Murphy, French translation (Paris: Bordas).
Undertakes a number of translations commissioned by UNESCO and by Georges Duthuit.
25 August Death of May Beckett.
March Molloy, in French (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
November Malone meurt (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
Purchases land at Ussy-sur-Marne, subsequently Beckett’s preferred location for writing.
September En attendant Godot (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
5 January Premiere of Waiting for Godot at the Théâtre de Babylone in Montparnasse, directed by Roger Blin.
May L’Innommable (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
August Watt, in English (Paris: Olympia Press).
8 September Waiting for Godot (New York: Grove Press).
13 September Death of Frank
March Molloy, translated into English with Patrick Bowles (New York: Grove; Paris: Olympia).
3 August First English production of Waiting for Godot opens in London at the Arts Theatre.
November Nouvelles et Textes pour rien (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
3 January American Waiting for Godot premiere in Miami.
February First British publication of Waiting for Godot (London: Faber).
October Malone Dies (New York: Grove).
January First radio broadcast, All That Fall on the BBC Third Programme.
Fin de partie, suivi de Acte sans paroles (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
28 March Death of Jack B.Yeats.
August All That Fall (London: Faber).
October Tous ceux qui tombent, translation of All That Fall with Robert Pinget (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
April Endgame, translation of Fin de partie (London: Faber).
From an Abandoned Work (London: Faber).
July Krapp’s Last Tape in Grove Press’s literary magazine, Evergreen Review.
September The Unnamable (New York: Grove).
December Anthology of Mexican Poetry, translated by Beckett (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press; later reprinted in London by Thames & Hudson).
March La Dernière bande, translation of Krapp’s Last Tape with Pierre Leyris, in the Parisian literary magazine Les Lettres nouvelles.
2 July Receives honorary D.Litt. degree from Trinity College Dublin.
November Embers in Evergreen Review.
December Cendres, translation of Embers with Pinget, in Les Lettres nouvelles.
Three Novels: Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnamable (New York: Grove; Paris: Olympia Press).
January Comment c’est (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
24 March Marries Suzanne at Folkestone, Kent.
May Shares Prix International des Editeurs with Jorge Luis Borges.
August Poems in English (London: Calder).
September Happy Days (New York: Grove).
February Oh les beaux jours, translation of Happy Days (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
May Assists with the German production of Play (Spiel, translated by Elmar and Erika Tophoven) in Ulm.
22 May Outline of Film sent to Grove Press. Film would be produced in 1964, starring Buster Keaton, and released at the Venice Film Festival the following year.
March Play and Two Short Pieces for Radio (London: Faber).
April How It Is, translation of Comment c’est (London: Calder; New York: Grove).
June Comédie, translation of Play, in Les Lettres nouvelles.
July–Aug. First and only trip to the United States, to assist with the production of Film in New York.
October Imagination morte imaginez (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
November Imagination Dead Imagine (London: The Sunday Times; Calder).
January Comédie et Actes divers, including Dis Joe and Va et vient (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
February Assez (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
October Bing (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
February D’un ouvrage abandonné (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
Têtes-mortes (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
16 March Death of Thomas MacGreevy.
June Eh Joe and Other Writings, including Act Without Words II and Film (London: Faber).
July Come and Go, English translation of Va et vient (London: Calder).
26 September Directs first solo production, Endspiel (translation of Endgame by Elmar Tophoven) in Berlin.
November No’s Knife: Collected Shorter Prose, 1945–1966 (London: Calder).
December Stories and Texts for Nothing, illustrated with six ink line drawings by Avigdor Arikha (New York: Grove).
March Poèmes (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
December Watt, translated into French with Ludovic and Agnès Janvier (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
23 October Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. Sans (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
April Mercier et Camier (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
Premier amour (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
July Lessness, translation of Sans (London: Calder).
September Le Dépeupleur (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
January The Lost Ones, translation of Le Dépeupleur (London: Calder; New York: Grove).
The North, part of The Lost Ones, illustrated with etchings by Arikha (London: Enitharmon Press).
January Not I (London: Faber).
July First Love (London: Calder).
Mercier and Camier (London: Calder).
Spring Directs Waiting for Godot in Berlin and Pas moi (translation of Not I) in Paris.
February Pour finir encore et autres foirades (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
20 May Directs Billie Whitelaw in Footfalls, which is performed with That Time at London’s Royal Court Theatre in honour of Beckett’s seventieth birthday.
Autumn All Strange Away, illustrated with etchings by Edward Gorey (New York: Gotham Book Mart).
Foirades/Fizzles, in French and English, illustrated with etchings by Jasper Johns (New York: Petersburg Press).
December Footfalls (London: Faber).
March Collected Poems in English and French (London: Calder; New York: Grove).
May Pas, translation of Footfalls (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
August Poèmes, suivi de mirlitonnades (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
January Compagnie (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit). Company (London: Calder).
May Directs Endgame in London with Rick Cluchey and the San Quentin Drama Workshop.
March Mal vu mal dit (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
April Rockaby and Other Short Pieces (New York: Grove).
October Ill Seen Ill Said, translation of Mal vu mal dit (New York: New Yorker; Grove).
April Worstward Ho (London: Calder).
September Disjecta: Miscellaneous Writings and a Dramatic Fragment, edited by Ruby Cohn, containing critical essays on art and literature as well as the unfinished play Human Wishes (London: Calder).
February Oversees San Quentin Drama Workshop production of Waiting for Godot, directed by Walter Asmus, in London.
Collected Shorter Plays (London: Faber; New York: Grove).
May Collected Poems, 1930–1978 (London: Calder).
July Collected Shorter Prose, 1945–1980 (London: Calder).
April Stirrings Still, with illustrations by Louis le Brocquy (New York: Blue Moon Books).
June Nohow On: Company, Ill Seen Ill Said, Worstward Ho, illustrated with etchings by Robert Ryman (New York: Limited Editions Club).
17 July Death of Suzanne Beckett.
22 December Death of Samuel Beckett. Burial in Cimetière de Montparnasse.
As the Story Was Told: Uncollected and Late Prose (London: Calder; New York: Riverrun Press).
Dream of Fair to Middling Women (Dublin: Black Cat Press).
Eleutheria (Paris: Les Éditions de Minuit).
Eleutheria, translated into English by Barbara Wright (London: Faber).
No Author Better Served: The Correspondence of Samuel Beckett and Alan Schneider, edited by Maurice Harmon (Cambrid
Beckett on Film: nineteen films, by different directors, of Beckett’s works for the stage (RTÉ, Channel 4 and Irish Film Board; DVD, London: Clarence Pictures).
Samuel Beckett: Works for Radio: The Original Broadcasts: five works spanning the period 1957–1976 (CD, London: British Library Board).
The Letters of Samuel Beckett, Volume 1: 1929–1940, edited by Martha Dow Fehsenfeld and Lois More Overbeck (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press).
Compiled by Cassandra Nelson
Opening page of typescript of Malone Dies used for the Grove Press edition (1956)
Courtesy of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center,
The University of Texas at Austin.
©The Estate of Samuel Beckett.
I shall soon be quite dead at last in spite of all. Perhaps next month. Then it will be the month of April or of May. For the year is still young, a thousand little signs tell me so. Perhaps I am wrong, perhaps I shall survive Saint John the Baptist’s Day and even the Fourteenth of July, festival of freedom. Indeed I would not put it past me to pant on to the Transfiguration, not to speak of the Assumption. But I do not think so, I do not think I am wrong in saying that these rejoicings will take place in my absence, this year. I have that feeling, I have had it now for some days, and I credit it. But in what does it differ from those that have abused me ever since I was born? No, that is the kind of bait I do not rise to any more, my need for prettiness is gone. I could die to-day, if I wished, merely by making a little effort, if I could wish, if I could make an effort. But it is just as well to let myself die, quietly, without rushing things. Something must have changed. I will not weigh upon the balance any more, one way or the other. I shall be neutral and inert. No difficulty there. Throes are the only trouble, I must be on my guard against throes. But I am less given to them now, since coming here. Of course I still have my little fits of impatience, from time to time, I must be on my guard against them, for the next fortnight or three weeks. Without exaggeration to be sure, quietly crying and laughing, without working myself up into a state. Yes, I shall be natural at last, I shall suffer more, then less, without drawing any conclusions, I shall pay less heed to myself, I shall be neither hot nor cold any more, I shall be tepid, I shall die tepid, without enthusiasm. I shall not watch myself die, that would spoil everything. Have I watched myself live? Have I ever complained? Then why rejoice now? I am content, necessarily, but not to the point of clapping my hands. I was always content, knowing I would be repaid. There he is now, my old debtor. Shall I then fall on his neck? I shall not answer any more questions. I shall even try not to ask myself any more. While waiting I shall tell myself stories, if I can. They will not be the same kind of stories as hitherto, that is all. They will be neither beautiful nor ugly, they will be calm, there will be no ugliness or beauty or fever in them any more, they will be almost lifeless, like the teller. What was that I said? It does not matter. I look forward to their giving me great satisfaction, some satisfaction. I am satisfied, there, I have enough, I am repaid, I need nothing more. Let me say before I go any further that I forgive nobody. I wish them all an atrocious life and then the fires and ice of hell and in the execrable generations to come an honoured name. Enough for this evening.
SAMUEL BECKETT SERIES:
Other author's books:
- Waiting for GodotFirst Love and Other ShortsMurphyThe Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel BeckettThree NovelsHappy DaysBreath, and Other ShortsThe Complete Short Prose, 1929-1989
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