Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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All Strange Away

Manuscripts | Publications

 

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Photocopy, with corrections in Beckett’s hand, of the corrected typescript of “All Strange Away,” 1976, 10 pp., including a maquette of the colophon. With notes for the printer in another hand, in red, blue, and orange inks, and in pencil. Contains variants from the published version.

When Jack MacGowran died at the end of January 1973, a benefit committee was set up to raise funds for his widow and daughter. As a member of that committee, Andreas Brown of the Gotham Book Mart in New York City asked Samuel Beckett to contribute “some short piece of writing” which could be published to provide additional income for the family. Beckett sent him on 27 June an “unfinished text . . . written in 1964 on the rocky road to Imagination morte imaginez and then laid aside. Apart from a few cuts and corrections I have made no effort to improve it. The title remains to be found. All proceeds from your edition and from eventual foreign editions and subsidiary rights,” he specified, “would go to the MacGowran fund.” The title became All Strange Away, and the book, with illustrations by Edward Gorey—“a beautiful edition,” Beckett wrote—reached him in Paris on 12 April 1977.

The first three words of this typescript—“Imagination dead imagine”—form the title of the work which eventually emerged from this early draft. In fact, Imagination Dead Imagine can be seen as a reduction of All Strange Away: (a) both take place inside a tomblike enclosure, with rotunda; (b) both deal with dead bodies, but living imaginations, which, in the course of the narratives, turn upon imagining death. The point of view of Imagination Dead Imagine is objective, but that of All Strange Away is more precise, with complex and characteristically Beckettian minute details: for example, a long, explicitly detailed account of a woman named Emma in All Strange Away is reduced to “the long hair of strangely imperfect whiteness, the white body of a woman finally” in Imagination Dead Imagine; and (c) silence, whiteness, light, and heat are significant elements in both texts. In short, the two works are thematically the same, but differ widely in length, descriptive approach, and perspective.

 

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Galley proofs, as revised by Samuel Beckett, of “All Strange Away,” with additional notes, in other hands, to the printer, 8 March 1976, 6pp.

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Unbound sheets of “All Strange Away,” 19 pp., on which Andreas Brown has written on the flyleaf: “Unique first state of sheets (with ‘error’).” On page 16, where the error occurs, Brown has noted: “This error was discovered before sheets left printer. New gathering reprinted—then sent to binder.”