John Pilling


A significant feature of Beckett studies in recent years has been the manner in which younger scholars have added new dimensions to the areas mapped out by the first generation of Beckett critics, and this issue contains several essays by writers who have not published on Beckett before. The two longest articles are on Beckett’s prose, the first by an American who has studied in France, the second by a Canadian who has studied in England. The essays on Beckett’s drama make important distinctions between Beckett and those contemporary dramatists who have learned most from his example. The publication of an article that does not take Beckett for its focus of interest reflects the editors’ conviction that there is much to be gained from seeing Beckett against a background made up of writers that he has admired or been associated with. It seemed appropriate to include a distinctively Irish garnish in an issue with such a pronounced international flavour.


Many reviews have had to be held over for future issues, but it was felt that the first issue to appear after the publication of Deirdre Bair’s biography should reflect the wide interest which that event has aroused. We are grateful to the Editor of The New Review for giving us permission to reprint a review of the book by the man who has done most to promote Beckett’s reputation in this country over many years, and who knows Beckett well, to counter-balance the more straightforwardly academic approach of the second review. It is hoped to provide in this way a more stereoscopic image of the man and his work at a time when more is known about the details of Beckett’s life than one would ever have thought possible.


The editors particularly wish to thank Samuel Beckett himself, for his kindness in allowing us to publish his text ‘neither’ for the first time, and thus to reassert the important reciprocal relationship between ‘studies’ of Beckett’s work and the author’s continuing refinement of the medium in which he is working.