ABSTRACT

James Knowlson’s new biography brings well into the light what the people knew, but never knew quite so well: that if Samuel Beckett had two passions, one was painting and the other was music. Nor is it to say that Beckett's own work did not bind in many ways with painting and music. Yet narrative is a different thing from either painting or music. In contrast to limited compatibility of painting and narrative, the flat incompatibility of music and narrative is almost a commonplace. So if there is no questioning Beckett's passion for painting and music, nor any disputing that he had a fine eye and a fine ear, nor any doubt that he loved these arts for themselves, it is also true that they carried this extra weight for him. It was an impossible double effort: at once to maintain narrative’s “existents” within the plane of narrative time and action, and to lift them out of that plane altogether.