About The Book
Samuel Beckett began his career by publishing poems in literary reviews in Paris during the 1930s, and—although primarily considered a playwright and novelist—he continued writing poetry throughout his life. This new, definitive volume presents Beckett’s poetry in the order it was composed, from prewar to postwar, and contains previously unpublished and never-before-reprinted work. Along with his translations of Apollinaire, Mallarmé, Rimbaud, and many others, this book also brings together all of the pieces from Collected Poems in English and French, selections from Mexican Poetry: An Anthology (translated by Beckett), and poems that appeared in his novels and plays. Extensive critical notes by editors Sean Lawlor and John Pilling detail the circumstances of their composition, explaining obscure allusions and references (frequently sourced to Beckett’s notebooks) and identifying resonances across his oeuvre.
Poetry allowed Beckett to reconcile his penchant for opulent phrasing with his preference for minimalism, and it profoundly influenced his approach to the drama and fiction for which he’s revered. This complete collection is an informative and essential addition to the libraries of Beckett’s readers.
“[A] sumptuously annotated edition. . . . Beckett’s poems trace in miniature his lifelong inability, despite his best efforts, to keep silent.” —New Criterion
“Collecting so many poems into a single volume makes it much easier to trace the patterns that are worked into Beckett’s imaginative DNA. . . . For anyone interested in the evolution of his plays, Beckett’s poems are essential reading.” —Telegraph
“A totalizing project . . . one that, perhaps more realistically than his collected novels or dramas, opens the iris of history onto the great writer’s formal development.” —Flavorwire