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Whoroscope - BECKETT, Samuel - 1930. [1205651]
Paris: The Hours Press, 1930 - Octavo, pp. 8. Original brick red printed wrappers, stapled as issued. Housed in a custom made dark red morocco, fleece-lined solander box. Morocco book label of John Carville (on inside front cover of box). Light diagonal creasing from fore-edge to bottom edge, slight dampstain at fore-edge and lower corner of covers, peripheral toning, very slight rust marks from staples. First edition, one of 300 copies (this copy unnumbered), of Beckett's first separately published work. Presentation copy from the author, inscribed on the limitation leaf: "for Dr. Philip Murray from Samuel Beckett - March 1987". Murray was a bibliophile and the author of Adventures of a Book Collector (2011); apparently it was his practice to send books to authors with a stamped addressed envelope enclosed so that they could sign and return the books to him - simple but effective. Beckett's biographer Deirdre Bair gives a colourful description of the poem's inception and composition: "On the afternoon of June 15 [1930], Beckett was in his room on the rue d'Ulm, desultorily going through a sheaf of notes on Geulincx [the Flemish philosopher Arnold Geulincx, a disciple of Descartes], when [Thomas] McGreevy mentioned that Richard Aldington was disappointed by the lacklustre quality of the on hundred or more poems he had just read. None, Aldington said, was worthy of the ten-pound prize, let alone publication by the Hours Press. Jokingly, McGreevy suggested that Beckett dash off a poem to take his mind off Joyce and get it over to Cunard's shop on the rue Guenegaud before midnight when the contest officially ended. Beckett laughed, but when McGreevy left he thumbed through his notebook on Descartes, and as he read, an idea for a poem began to form in his mind. He wrote the manuscript in longhand on stationary filched from the Hotel Bristol, Carcassone. Six pages and ninety-eight lines long (length was limited to one hundred lines), with only two or three minor word changes in the manuscript, the poem seems to have been almost completely thought out before Beckett committed it to paper. In general, Whoroscope is a witty, superficial exhibition of esoteric knowledge. Actually both Cunard and Aldington were so puzzled by the poem's obscurities that they barely recognized what it was about. They sent for Beckett in great haste in the early morning of June 16, and he rushed to the rue Guenegaud. When they found out how quickly the poem had been written, they were astonished and pleased with this proof that Beckett was someone of genius" (Samuel Beckett: A Biography, 1993, pp. 101-04). Federman & Fletcher 5. [Attributes: First Edition; Signed Copy]
      [Bookseller: Peter Harrington. ABA member]
Last Found On: 2016-09-22           Check availability:      AbeBooks    

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