Faber & Faber unveils new editions of Samuel Beckett's fiction

Samuel Beckett, 'Endgame'. Faber&Faber

Samuel Beckett, 'Murphy'. Faber&Faber

Samuel Beckett, 'Watt'. Faber&Faber
'Fifty years after turning down the opportunity to publish Samuel Beckett's work outside the theatre, Faber and Faber have snapped up the rights to his fiction, non-fiction and poetry. The complicated four-way deal involving John Calder, the writer's estate and French publishers Editions de Minuit unites the English-language publishing rights to his work as a whole for the first time.

'[...] Faber's poetry editor, Paul Keegan, said that the company was "honoured" to have acquired the rights, and pledged to pay "renewed attention" to his words.

'"It's early days yet," he continued, "but there's a sense that there's a lot of material that hasn't been brought to land, that's still in orbit."

'Keegan outlined plans to publish Beckett's prose in new combinations, and a re-examination the author's intentions. "We want to try to avoid bundling everything together into one volume," he said, "to give it a little more space."

'He promised to ensure that his prose works, which he suggested have maintained a low profile, would be "recognised alongside the works for theatre as the true partners of his canon".

'"It's a question of taking a little more care about what should stand with what and what should stand alone," he explained, "and also being a little more careful with the texts which are often corrupt."'

Since Faber & Faber purchased the rights to Samuel Beckett's poetry and fiction in 2007, editions of the writer's work in the UK have been relatively scarce. Beckett's long-term UK publisher, John Calder, has now retired, and significant editions of Beckett's writing have been sourced from overseas; the Grove Centenary edition of his work is a fine example, a four-volume edition published by the Grove Press. The Grove series was edited by Paul Auster, and came complete with short introductions from a number of prominent writers, including J. M. Coetzee and Salman Rushdie.

British publishers Faber & Faber are finally beginning to release their new editions of Samuel Beckett's poetry and fiction, while re-issuing his dramatic work in a similar design. The intention, no doubt, is to align the fiction and the poetry 'alongside the works for theatre as the true partners of his canon'. It's also nice to see that they are publishing each work as a stand-alone edition, to give the texts their own necessary 'space'.

I think that it's all wonderfully ambitious, and I'm looking forward to browsing copies in my local bookshop sometime soon. You can visit Faber & Faber's Samuel Beckett webpage by clicking here.