A never-before-published short story by Samuel Beckettone of the greatest writers of the twentieth centurywith an introduction and critical notes by the preeminent Beckett scholar Mark Nixon
978-0-8021-2369-5 • $14.00 • Paperback • Dec. 2015
In 1933, Chatto & Windus agreed to publish Samuel Beckett’s More Pricks Than Kicks, a collection of ten interrelated stories, which was his first published work of fiction. At his editor’s request, Beckett penned an additional story, “Echo’s Bones,” to serve as the final piece. However, he had already killed off several of the charactersincluding the protagonist, Belacquathroughout the course of the book, and had to resurrect them from the dead. Despite Beckett’s efforts, the story was politely rejected by his editor and excluded from the collection, as it was considered too imaginatively playful, too allusive, and too undisciplined; qualities that are now recognized as quintessentially Beckett. As a result, “Echo’s Bones” (not to be confused with the poem and collection of poems of the same title) remained unpublisheduntil now, nearly eight decades later.
This little-known text is introduced by the preeminent Beckett scholar, Dr. Mark Nixon, who situates the work in terms of its biographical context, its textual references, its Joycean influences, and how it is a vital link in the evolution of Beckett’s early work. Beckett confessed that he included “all I knew” in the story, attesting to its importance in his oeuvre. It harnesses an immense range of subjectsfrom science and philosophy to religion and literatureand combines fairy tales, gothic dreams, and classical myth. The posthumous publication of Echo’s Bones marks the unexpected and highly exciting return of a literary legend.
Mark Nixon is Reader in Modern Literature at the University of Reading, where he is also the director of the Beckett International Foundation.