Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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The Unnamable

Manuscripts | Publications | Reviews | Audio


figure 2

Original, signed autograph manuscript of L’Innommable, begun 29 March 1949 and completed at Ussy, January 1950.

The manuscript of L’Innommable is written in ink and pencil in two cloth-bound ledgers and contains Beckett’s deletions and emendations throughout. On the flyleaf of Notebook I Beckett wrote: “This is the original MS of L’Innommable written 1949-50 and published by the Editions de Minuit May 1953.”



figures 3, 4, 5

Original, signed autograph manuscript of The Unnamable, started February 1957 and completed 23 February 1958.

The manuscript of Beckett’s translation of L’Innommable into English is written in blue and red inks in three notebooks, each titled and numbered by Beckett. The last manuscript page of the third notebook bears Beckett’s March 1958 inscription to Jake Schwartz.

The manuscript is heavily revised and doodled. One doodle, at the exact midpoint of the second notebook and pictured here, depicts a kind of piscine being from whose mouth emerges a balloon containing the notation (in French), “Began work again 21.1.58 after failure of Henry et Ada.” This is a reference to Beckett’s radio play Embers. He had apparently interrupted his work on the translation to write the radio play.


figure 6

Typed manuscript extract from The Unnamable with several revisions in black ink, in Beckett’s hand, and with a few blue-crayon indications to the printer of The Texas Quarterly in another, ca. Spring 1958.

This was the ribbon copy of the carbon typescript entitled “Extract from The Unnamable” and marked in Beckett’s hand “Texas Review” which he incorporated, with further revision, into a later typescript of the full work.


figure 7

Heavily revised typed manuscript of The Unnamable, completed June 1958.