Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Waiting for Godot

Manuscripts | Publications | Productions | Reviews

 

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Fair copy autograph manuscript of “En attendant Godot” with minor corrections, 156 pp. The text has been written on small, quarto pages removed from an exercise book and tipped onto blank sheets of white drawing paper.

When Beckett still owned the original autograph manuscript of En attendant Godot, he made this fair copy for Jake Schwartz, who sold it to T.E. Hanley, of Bradford, Pennsylvania, one of the major American collectors of twentieth-century rare books and manuscripts. Hanley’s library was purchased by The University of Texas in several installments, beginning in 1958.

 

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Autograph manuscript of “Waiting for Godot,” 165pp., written in two small, quarto notebooks.

This manuscript of Beckett’s translation of Godot into English, not the original, shows a substantial number of variants, omissions, and corrections from the printed text.

 

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In 1970, Beckett returned a carbon copy of a two-page commentary to his friend Maya “Mania” Péron with a cover letter pronouncing the study—aside from a few small misunderstandings—remarkable. Written by Péron's former pupil Edith Fournier, the summary proposes an overarching narrative for Godot:

The framework that seems to be given is that of life and the way men pass it, granting that each man is both body and spirit. The spirit postulates a reason, an aim in its goodness, which in Christian terms one would call God. This God is invisible, but his messenger (the boy) is hope. This hope is always being falsified. Each time it comes to us it asserts that it is something quite new in kind—that we have never had a hope like this before—that we have never seen him before—that this time “Godot will come.” To intellectual questioning (enquiries about Godot) it gives vague or even obviously false answers. It is so full of delights that we find it almost impossible to disbelieve its promise.