Happy Days: 'Lost' Beckett short story to be published

Mon Mar 31, 2014 9:06am EDT
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By Michael Roddy

LONDON (Reuters) - The titular character never appears in Samuel Beckett's play "Waiting for Godot", but a previously unpublished work that was rejected as "a nightmare" by the Irish writer's editor in 1933 will turn up in bookstores next month.

The novella "Echo's Bones", meant to have been the 11th and concluding story in Beckett's early collection "More Pricks than Kicks", will be published on its own by Faber & Faber on April 17 with a lengthy introduction by Beckett scholar Mark Nixon, the publisher announced on Monday.

Nixon, a reader in modern literature at the University of Reading, which houses the most extensive collection of Beckett's papers, said he understood why the 13,500-word story failed to make the cut, but he thinks it will be of interest to more than just Beckett scholars.

"It is well written. it's a sign of a very intelligent young man writing very much in the mold of modernistic experimental fiction of the time," Nixon said in a telephone interview.

"You can see the influence of James Joyce in the story, in that Beckett is taking themes and styles and references from many different sources."

Nixon said he appreciated why Beckett's then-editor, Charles Prentice of publisher Chatto & Windus, had rejected it.

In a November 1933 note to Beckett, who went on to win the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969 and died in 1989, Prentice wrote: "Dear Sam, It is a nightmare ... ‘Echo's Bones' would, I am sure, lose the book a great many readers."

Nixon said that although Beckett's stories generally could be strange, this one was a bit stranger, featuring as its main character a person who returns from the grave.   Continued...