Six diary notebooks kept by Samuel Beckett during his 1936-7 trip through Nazi Germany were discovered in 1989. Samuel Beckett's German Diaries 1936-1937 is the first study to explore the relevance of these diaries to Beckett's development as a writer.
Using the diaries as the central point of focus, Nixon draws on unpublished manuscripts, notebooks, correspondence, reading notes from the 1930s to reflect on both Beckett's creative evolution prior to 1936 and the direction his writing took after his return to Dublin in April 1937. As well as gaining an insight into Beckett's reading of classical German literature, Nixon shows how the pared-down style of writing, the self-examination and the importance of the visual arts that govern Beckett's post-war works traces back to the pages of these notebooks.
By illuminating how Beckett's writing and aesthetics underwent a far-reaching change during the 1930s, Nixon's study is crucial to our understanding of the emergence of Beckett as a radical writer in the post-war years.
One of the great strengths of Nixon's book is his recourse to manuscript materials in the navigation of densely theoretical problems; the use of historicist methods in tackling questions of form and genre proves a formidable critical combination. -- The Times Literary Supplement "This is the book we had been waiting for, as it dispels the myths surrounding Beckett's German Diaries. With extreme attention to detail, with unrivalled care for context and with penetrating judgment, Mark Nixon gives us a rationale for Beckett's apparently absurd tour of Nazi Germany. Nixon explains why the talking cure of psychoanalysis in London had to be replaced by a Romantic walking cure that passed through the ruins of a culture threatened with extinction. The doomed and melancholy Winterreise was to provide a foundation for the subsequent work and pave the way for a postwar aesthetic of loss and survival." -- Jean-Michel Rabate, Vartan Gregorian Professor in the Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania, USA "The six months that Samuel Beckett spent in Germany in 1936-7 were a critical period in his intellectual, creative and emotional development. The diaries that he kept during this trip not only offer unique and invaluable insight into his views on the many works of art that he saw as he travelled through the country, but, as Mark Nixon reveals in this outstanding work of literary scholarship, also gesture towards a new kind of writing that would find its full realization only after the Second World War. The importance of Nixon's study lies, however, not only in its detailed analysis of the diaries themselves, but also in its reflections on Beckett's sustained engagement with German literature, culture and politics more generally. For anyone interested in one of the twentieth century's most important writers, Nixon's book is essential reading." -- Shane Weller, Professor of Comparative Literature and Co-Director of the Centre for Modern European Literature, University of Kent, UK Named as 'Book of the Week' -- Readysteadybook.com Beckett's enthusiasm for Flemish painting, engagement with Goethe, exposure to Nazi racial ideology and censorship...the development of his quietism and of his language scepticism, and his related reservations about hermeneutics, are scrupulously elucidated here, and tantalisingly illustrated from the diary itself... We look forward to Nixon further historicising Beckett. -- Andre Furlani Irish Studies Review
Series: Historicizing Modernism
Number Of Pages: 272
Available: 18th December 2014
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc
Dimensions (cm): 23.4 x 15.6 x 1.6
Weight (kg): 0.32