James Knowlson

So much is being written at the moment about Samuel Beckett’s work that a journal which sets out to bring together some of this material at least can be launched without its editor having to feel the need to indulge in elaborate explanation or justification. An obvious further service can be rendered by listing and surveying new books relating to Beckett studies as they appear and by reviewing some important productions of the plays. It could also provide a useful forum in which questions may be put and answers provided and can serve as a guide in which information is collated and disseminated. Such information, notes and queries, publication and production details, etc. should be sent directly to the Editor at the University of Reading.

In addition to these rather specialized aims, we hope also to survey rather more widely, particularly in the review section of the journal, work appearing in and upon contemporary French, Anglo-Irish and English literature and drama, for it is here that the allied interests of our subscribers are likely to lie. The second issue will contain, for example, reviews of books on Oscar Wilde, Harold Pinter, Sean O’Casey, W. B. Yeats, Jean-Paul Sartre and Bertolt Brecht, as well as more general studies of contemporary fiction and modern drama.

The present issue tends, naturally enough, to focus upon the new productions of Beckett’s plays which were mounted, or brought to England, to commemorate the writer’s seventieth birthday year in 1976. But it is also one of the editorial aims of this journal that it should appeal to those who are actively involved as well as interested in contemporary European theatre. The absurd, if understandable, rift which exists today between the academic critic and the practical man of the theatre is doubly absurd when the subject of both’s concern is the theatre of Samuel Beckett, whose meticulous attention to what is ‘right’ in the theatre and acknowledged dramatic workmanship is allied to an erudition which is as wide-ranging and impressive, surely, as that of any other twentieth-century writer.

I am happy to acknowledge a debt to Samuel Beckett for his kindness in allowing us to print for the first time in Britain the text of his new play for television, Ghost trio, which, like the new televised version of Not I, is likely to prove just as controversial as some of his earlier plays for the stage have done.