Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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How It Is

Manuscripts | Publications | Reviews


figures 2, 3

The signed, original autograph version of Comment c’est, begun 17 December 1958 at Ussy and completed there on 6 January 1960, numbers 477 pages and contains 108 pages of revisions.

Originally titled “Pim,” the manuscript version of Comment c’est fills six notebooks. Two of these contain sections of autograph revisions which Beckett labeled “Révision I,” “Révision II,” and “Révision III.” The notebooks give evidence of the novel having been written with hesitation and difficulty, as there are extensive revisions, deletions, and additions throughout, as well as numerous doodles (some quite intricate in design), complex calculations, and diagrams.


figures 4, 5

This typed manuscript, some of which is carbon copy, of Comment c’est, 88 pages, is divided into three parts and was enclosed in a red folder marked in Beckett’s hand “Comment c’est / (How It is) / Typescript I.”

The typescript of Comment c’est has moderate to heavy autograph revisions, deletions, and additions, some of them in Beckett’s hand. In the margins, there are a few doodles, mathematical equations, and one diagram. Like the autograph manuscript, the typescript shows conventional punctuation and capitalization. In the third section Beckett has indicated, in red ink, the breaks where smaller paragraphs occur in subsequent typescripts.

Beckett has deleted the title “Découverte de Pim.”


figure 6

This typed manuscript of Comment c’est, 90 pages, was enclosed in a red folder marked “Typescript II.”

In this second typescript version of Comment c’est, also made up of three parts, Beckett has discarded the traditional style of the earlier manuscripts. The text has been extensively revised and has numerous deletions and additions, as well as some organizational changes. Each paragraph is numbered and there are a few doodles and a number of mathematical equations and diagrams.

Included with the typescript is a three-page carbon copy, with autograph corrections, of an extract entitled “L’Image,” published in X: A Quarterly Review (November 1959).


figure 7

This typed manuscript (some carbon copy) of Comment c’est numbers 88 pages and was enclosed in a red folder marked “Typescript III.” This typescript shows only moderate revisions and is close to the novel in its final form.