Anthony Lane on the letters of Samuel Beckett. Among the pleasures of the piece for me is the reminder that, as entertaining as AL can be on the subject of film, he is that much more incisive and substantive on literature. I'm especially grateful for such (previously unknown to me) Beckettisms as "eyedew," "daymare," and the punny title Whoroscope, but also for Lane's sobering, magisterial conclusion:
The youthful worrier of these compelling letters, who suggested that “the man condemned to death is less afraid than I,” was not lying; Beckett was neither a poser nor a hysteric, and there was precious little peacetime under his mother’s gaze. But from now on he would have friends condemned to real death, and would grow acquainted with forms of human behavior to which neither of his younger selves—the home-stricken solipsist and the frowning scholar—would have an answer.