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The University of Reading (UK) displayed Samuel Beckett's drafts for his novel Murphy and ephemeral papers from some of his theatre productions.

 

The manuscript on display consisted of six notebooks of approximately A5 size (they were slightly smaller). On the right hand side he had written his script which consisted of single spaced text in blue fountain pen ink (looked like Parker's Quink, but it is 86 years old). He had crossed out and edited the text in black ink. It looked like a broad/thick medium nib.

 

On the left hand page, he hadn't continued with the draft, but put doodles of golfers, cavalry men and notes. The curator told us that some of these ideas appeared in later works - so it seems that the left side was a "scratch pad" and the right hand side was his work space.

 

On the left hand side he had the question, "What is my life, but the preference for the ginger nut biscuit?"

 

There was also a notebook of stage directions for a production of his play and a model theatre with dolls - a mock up of John Snow's English production of Godot. The stage looks very similar to the set of productions today.

Edited by sandy101
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Oh Thank you for this description Sandy. How exciting! I would love to see this manuscript.

 

Katherine

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AndrewThomas

That's incredible. Beckett is hard not to love.

 

 

 

On the left hand side he had the question, "What is my life, but the preference for the ginger nut biscuit?"

 

A reference to Melville's Bartleby?

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That's incredible. Beckett is hard not to love.

 

 

 

A reference to Melville's Bartleby?

I don't know. However, we asked the curator and one of Beckett's later stories featured biscuits - so it seems that the idea was germinating here - the character in the book also discusses biscuits somewhere - I haven't read Murphy yet - the local paper advertised the exhibition this morning, and I couldn't pass up the opportunity.

 

I'm sure Beckett read Melville and picked up an idea from there, or maybe Beckett consumed ginger nuts whilst writing.

 

 

I guess we could do a scientific analysis of any crumbs - or taste them, but 86 year old biscuit loses its appeal.

Edited by sandy101
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