Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Stories and Texts for Nothing

Manuscripts | Publications | Reviews

 

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Signed, autograph manuscript of “L’Expulsé,” begun 6 October 1946 and completed 14 October 1946, 51pp.

Written in ink in a schoolboy’s bound notebook, inscribed on the cover, “Samuel Beckett / First published in / Fontaine / figures in Nouvelles/et Textes pour Rien.”

The manuscript has additions, deletions, revisions, and a few decorative doodles, including some in pencil on the front cover. The first two pages of this notebook are, in fact, the final pages of the autograph manuscript of Mercier et Camier. A manuscript page at the end has penciled notes in another hand.

 

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Signed autograph manuscript of “Le Calmant,” begun 23 December 1946, 76pp., with deletions, additions, and emendations in ink and in brown crayon, some doodles and sketches, and an arithmetical calculation on the inside front flyleaf.

The last page of text contains lines of dialogue and narrative which appear, in slightly different form, in the full version of “Suite”—“La Fin.” Laid in is a sheet of onionskin containing a brief autograph passage intended for insertion in the first of the “Textes pour rien” (“Brusquement, non, à force, à force”).

“Le Calmant” wasn’t published until 1955, when Les Editions de Minuit brought out Nouvelles et textes pour rien, a collection of three short stories and thirteen short prose texts. It first appeared in English in 1967 as “The Calmative” just prior to Grove Press’s edition, Stories and Texts for Nothing.

 

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Autograph manuscript of “Textes pour rien,” 1950-1951, 230 pp., including 82 pp. of an abandoned text, in two spiral-bound notebooks. Both notebooks inscribed by Beckett in 1960 to Jake Schwartz.

The manuscript is written in blue and black inks and has numerous deletions and some additions (many of them long) in blue, black, and purple inks. Both notebooks have doodles, usually quite intricate; the second notebook has diagrams, charts, and mathematical calculations as well.

The first notebook contains eight of the thirteen short prose pieces Beckett called “textes pour rien.” The last page of this notebook contains autograph notes in Beckett’s hand and one other.

The second notebook contains five more textes pour rien and an abandoned work—so marked by Beckett, apparently at a later date, with a different pen. It was begun on 22 December 1951. The dates attached to the pieces in this second notebook, as well as the length of the abandoned work, would suggest that the 81-page fragment was an aborted attempt to move into a longer work immediately upon completion of “Textes pour rien.”

Doodles, sketches for floor plans, and charts are interspersed throughout the second notebook. The last two pages of the notebook have drafts of three letters.

 

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When Esquire expressed interest in publishing a work of Beckett’s, Reavey lent David Solomon his inscribed copy of Nouvelles et textes pour rien. Solomon found the first texte pour rien “of particular interest,” but said they would be happy if Beckett would give them “any translation of any of his short stories,” not yet published in English.

The publisher, however, took a different view. In a follow-up note to his 12 February letter, Solomon told Reavey that Arnold Gingrich had characterized the book as the “dreariest of dreary existentialism.’”

 

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Signed, autograph manuscript of “From an Abandoned Work,” 1958, 22pp. in two gatherings of sheets sewn separately and marked I and II.

Beckett wrote out this manuscript for Jake Schwartz. It has a number of omissions relative to the published text and is inscribed on the last page that “it is the first text written directly in English since Watt (1945).”

First publication of the work was entrusted to Trinity News: A Dublin University Weekly (7 June 1956), whose student editors edited Beckett’s text extensively, “improving” his punctuation and tidying up in general. Needless to say, Beckett was not amused.

The piece was broadcast by the BBC’s Third Programme, on 14 December 1957, in a reading by Patrick Magee, produced by Donald McWhinnie.