Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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figure 9

The original Olympia Press announcement for the publication of Watt in the “Collection Merlin,” 1953.

In a letter to George Reavey Beckett wrote from Foxrock that Routledge had turned down Watt (“it was ‘wild and unintelligible’”) and asked Reavey if he knew of any other agent who could handle Watt as well as Reavey had done with Murphy.

Beckett eventually decided to stay with Reavey as his agent and Watt began making the round of the other English publishers. Beckett’s friend Denis Devlin returned to his Washington diplomatic post, taking a typescript with him to try the American market. There was little real progress on either front. Finally Richard Seaver, an editor of the Paris review Merlin, after reading Molloy and Malone Meurt, wrote to Beckett in the hope of extracting from him a text of some kind for his magazine. After several unsuccessful attempts to get in touch with Beckett, Seaver answered a knock at his door one day and found him there, with the manuscript of Watt. Beckett handed it to him and left—“almost without a word.”

The Merlin team was exuberantly enthusiastic but barely solvent. With the collaboration of Maurice Girodias who, like his father before him (Jack Kahane), published, chiefly, books unpublishable in the United States and England (e.g., works by Henry Miller), they brought out, in 1953, with a dual imprint, the eminently respectable—almost chaste—Watt.


figure 10

“An Extract from Watt” in Envoy: A Review of Literature and Art, Vol. I, No. 2, January 1950.


figure 11

“Extract from Watt” in Irish Writing, edited by David Marcus and Terence Smith, No. 17, December 1951. Signed by Beckett.


figure 12

“Extract from Watt” in Merlin, edited by Alexander Trocchi, Vol. I, No. 3, Winter 1952-53. Richard Seaver as the Advisory Editor and Director. Inscribed by Beckett to Jake Schwartz.

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