George Craig on Samuel Beckett's Letters

Translator discusses the second volume of Beckett's correspondence
Mark Thwaite (Ready Steady Book) interviews translator George Craig about his involvement in the publication of Samuel Beckett's Letters:
What have you learnt about yourself, Beckett and his writing as you've been working on this project? What do we, as readers of Beckett, know more clearly now these two volumes of Letters have been published?

That I am one of the luckiest people alive, having been given the chance to work on these letters. Readers of Volume II, especially those who know only the Beckett of legend (cold, austere, unwelcoming) will discover a passionate searcher and a man of great kindness.

What did you want to achieve with your own book (Writing Beckett's Letters)?

I wanted above all to get away from the notion of translation as pure process buttressed by this or that theory, to give instead some sense of the intimate wrestle that it was in my experience: an urgent conversation with an admired dead friend.

I wanted to make clear that translating Beckett's words required nothing less than a total personal engagement, with the full range of feeling that implies: swings between hope and despair, intuition and bafflement, and the fear of never catching up. The fragmentary form seemed right for that.

What were your reading highlights in 2011, and what are you currently reading and/or looking forward to in 2012?

There wasn't much time for new reading (a couple of oustanding memoirs (Michael Frayn and Jeannette Winterson), and much re-reading: the Odyssey, Dante, Calvino, Borges, Eliot). [Read More]
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