Trinity’s French Department Host the Irish Launch the Letters of Samuel Beckett: Vol 2, 1941-1956

Posted on: 05 December 2011

Trinity’s French Department recently hosted the Irish launch of the second volume of The Letters of Samuel Beckett which date from 1941-1956.  Beckett’s continuing connections with Trinity College Dublin, made during his student years at the University, punctuate the volume.  The launch included a seminar on the translation of Beckett’s letters which aimed to give undergraduates and postgraduate students, members of staff and the public, the opportunity to discuss the complex process of translation evident in the volume. 

The letters open with the war years, when it was often impossible or too dangerous to correspond.  The surge of letters beginning in 1945 and their variety are matched by the outpouring and the range of Beckett’s published work.  Primarily written in French and later translated by the author, the work includes stories, a series of novels (Molloy, Malone meurt and L’Innommable), essays and plays – most notably En attendant Godot.  The letters chronicle a passionately committed but little known writer evolving into a figure of international reputation, and his response to such fame.  The volume provides detailed introductions which discuss Beckett’s situation during the war and his crucial move into the French language, as well as translations of the letters, explanatory notes, year-by-year chronologies, profiles of correspondents and other contextual information.

The publication of this volume of The Letters of Samuel Beckett throws new light on Beckett’s work, notably those written in French, the primary language in which he writes during the post-war period.  The event was organised by Dr Sarah Alyn Stacey of Trinity’s French Department and featured talks by George Craig and Daniel Gunn, two of the editors of the publication along with Monsieur Hadrien Laroche, cultural attaché of the French Embassy, and Kevin O’Sullivan, editor of the Irish Times.  

The Letters of Samuel Beckett: Volume 2, 1941-1956 was edited by George Craig, University of Sussex; Martha Dow Fehsenfeld, Emory University, Atlanta; Dan Gunn, The American University of Paris, France; Lois More Overbeck, Emory University, Atlanta.