The Letters of Samuel Beckett: Volume 1, 1929-1940 (Vol. 1)

Colm Tóibín writes:

In his essay on the painter Jack Yeats, which he sent to Beckett in 1938, Thomas McGreevy wrote: ‘During the 20-odd years preceding 1916, Jack Yeats filled a need that had become immediate in Ireland for the first time in 300 years, the need of the people to feel that their own life was being expressed in art.’[*] Beckett was in Paris when he read the essay. He wrote to McGreevy to say that he did ‘not think there is a syllable that needs touching’ in the first 18 pages, and that the rest, ‘though I do not find it quite as self-evident as the beginning, holds together perfectly’. But then he said that ‘the political and social analyses are rather on the long side.’ He admitted his own

(LRB 6 August 2009)

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