A Doodle of the Artist as a Young Man

An “extraordinarily rich” manuscript of Samuel Beckett’s first novel Murphy will be up for auction at Sotheby’s in July. According to Sotheby’s it is “the most important Beckett manuscript ever to have been offered on the open market” and is expected to fetch as much as £1 million. The handful of scholars who have read it say it contains valuable insights into Beckett’s writing process, telling revisions, and, apparently, several pages of doodles: minute portraits of Charlie Chaplin, James Joyce, and Beckett himself.

“[Beckett and Joyce] had been and remained really quite close, and he is struggling with Joyce’s literary influence,” remarked manuscript specialist Dr. Gabriel Heaton. “This novel is much more Joycean than anything he wrote later – he’s doodling the face of a friend and mentor.”

It is a given for our greatest authors that their most intimate notes, journals, and letters will eventually become documents for public, or at least academic, consumption. We witnessed the truth of this earlier just this year with the publication of Willa Cather’s letters, which she had adamantly declared should not to be published. While Beckett’s manuscript notes are undoubtedly full of insight, psychoanalysing doodles may be a bit futile so long after his death. Nonetheless, imagining a bespectacled Beckett sketching rough portraits of his friends is delightfully amusing.

via the Guardian

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