James Knowlson


It is an indication of the extent of the interest which is being taken in Samuel Beckett’s writing at present that a journal which is devoted principally to his work should have been so well received and supported. The speed with which the first two issues were sold out and the need to increase already the size of our printing seems to confirm that support is coming not only from institutions or, indeed, from academics. The Journal aims, in fact, to be readable, as well as informative and scholarly, and it is intended to appeal to those interested in theatrical performance as well as to those more concerned with critical analysis and discussion.


This third issue illustrates perhaps more clearly than the previous two have done certain elements of present editorial policy. First, by establishing links with the Humanities Press in the United States of America, the newly formed ‘Samuel Beckett Society,’ by creating an American literary review editorship, and by taking an interest in books published in several countries, we are aiming to move increasingly towards closer international collaboration. Articles and reviews from France, Germany and Poland, for instance, have already been accepted for future issues and, speaking personally here, I should be very happy to see the best of the new French criticism bring further diversity of approach to the Journal. Quality, originality, and importance of the contributions remain the dominant criteria for selection and inclusion of material. Secondly, while predominantly concerned with the work of Samuel Beckett, it has seemed appropriate to include from time to time a judicious blend of articles and reviews on the writing of others. The present piece on Michel Butor’s two novels is, therefore, one of several on the work of other twentieth-century writers which will appear in later issues. Most of the promised articles have now materialized, although John Pilling’s study of Dream of fair to middling women has been held back, and will be printed instead in our forthcoming joint book, Frescoes of the skull: essays on the drama and prose writings of Samuel Beckett (John Calder).


As far as material printed in this issue is concerned, Beckett’s All strange away appeared first in a limited edition of 226 copies published by Gotham Book Mart in 1976 with illustrations by Edward Gorey. It was described to me by Beckett as written ‘about 63/64, I imagine on way to Imagination morte imaginez.’ The other articles, selected on merit, should be allowed to speak for themselves.