Confronting the new volume of The Collected Poems of Samuel Beckett of nearly 500 pages in length (actually, only about half the book contains poems, the other half being devoted to “Commentary” “Appendix,” “Bibliography,” and “Index”), one might be tempted to proclaim — as many have of Beckett’s mentor, James Joyce — that his best poetry appeared in his fiction and, in Beckett’s case alone, in his dramatic works. A more sophisticated argument might be summarized by arguing that for Beckett — as for Joyce, Gertrude Stein, and others — all of the works represent, in one way or another, a kind of poetry in their attention to language above narrative and dramaturgical concerns. Yet this would hardly explain Beckett’s own “fondness” for his poetry, as the editors of this volume, Seán Lawlor and John Pilling, describe it. Beckett, objectively dramatizing himself, admitted “it was in poetry that he confronted himself most intimately, even if this confrontation was in conflict with his instinct to protect himself by way of ventriloquism, disguise or deviousness.”
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