Like the famous headline “Garbo Speaks” this feels almost as exciting, and as special, to me anyway.
Those who know me know how much the works of Samuel Beckett mean to me. His work is a constant inspiration. Granted, it’s like a molehill being inspired by a mountain, but I’m not sure there’s ever been a writer whose work has me in such a consistent state of awe.
Anyone who follows me on Twitter will see a regular stream of Beckett related material tweeted and retweeted, so naturally when I saw a radio documentary on BBC about his work and archive in the University of Reading I liked and retweeted early in the day with the aim of listening to it later that day.
Enjoyable as the documentary is, narrated by Robert McCrum, with contributions from such luminaries as James Knowlson, Billie Whitelaw, Edna O’Brien, Tom Stoppard and Lisa Dwan, among others, the real peak for me was getting to hear a recording of Beckett, not only speaking, but reciting a part of his work Lessness.
As is well known Samuel Beckett was not a writer enamouured with any form of celebrity, and interviews and recordings of him are rare, so hearing him speak was more than a pleasant surprise.
I will confess that hearing him read from his own work, tapping a table with the end of a pencil as he spoke to ensure the listener would find the rhythm in the piece, left me quite emotional. I’ve listened to that part of the documentary again and again since, and it doesn’t lose its power.
I’ve no idea how long such radio documentaries stay up on the BBC website, so all I can do is implore you to listen. The documentary as a whole is fascinating, not only to hear about the Beckett archive, and from those who worked with him and knew him, but to get the rare opportunity to hear him speak (from approximately the 42 minute mark) adds so much more.